The first electoral debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden turned into a chaotic and virulent spectacle, shocking in the most powerful country in the world. It sparked from the first moment in which the two men fighting for the White House set foot on that stage in Cleveland (Ohio). A Trump in his most aggressive version, insubordinate to speaking turns and the rules of decorum, launched himself in a whirlwind against a Biden who tried to play the presidential role, but also went down to the mud to stop the president. He called him a "liar", called him a "clown" and told him to shut up.
This debate will not go down in history as one of those that ended up determining the fate of a candidate, but as a sign of the climate of hostility that the country is going through five weeks after its appointment with the polls. Biden spoke more to the camera than to Trump, trying to appeal to voters. Trump hit the contrary to the taste of his bases. If this head-to-head serves as a taste of the strategy for November 3, it is clear that the president is still relying on the 2016 tactic to win, or perhaps incapable of any other.
About the pandemic, about the wave of protests against racism, the economy, health or the very integrity of the elections. There was no matter in which the discussion did not end in flames, that did not give rise to some thick word. Before minute five, Trump had already called Biden a "socialist." By the time he turned 10, he had already referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" and had confronted the moderator, Chris Wallace, a star of the conservative Fox network, who was trying to keep him within the limits of his exposure time. At another point, discussing the coronavirus, the Republican insulted Biden: “Did you say the smart word? Don't use that word on me ", he pointed out, and finished:" Joe, there's nothing smart about you. "
They were fought on the Case Western Reserve university campus, in strange conditions, like everything that is happening in this campaign marked by the pandemic. As a precaution against the risk of contagion, there were no handshakes or hardly any public, although there were concentrations of protest against the president in the street. It was difficult to predict what could come out of this first duel. A veteran politician, with half a century of experience behind him, faced a showman first class, unpredictable and contrary to the rules of decorum. Seeing both for the first time live and direct, the box of thunder was opened.
Biden, 77, is not adept at debates, as was proven during the Democratic primary, and Trump, 74, finds his natural habitat in confrontation and television cameras. The Republican's rants, that same electricity that he is capable of maintaining during his hour-and-a-half rallies, contrasted tonight with the brittle voice of the Democratic candidate, always less energetic, but who endured the guy and even stopped the president's feet in several occasions.
He looked like that skinny student who one day draws strength from within and stands up to the high school bully: "Are you going to shut up, man?"; "There is no one who says a word with this clown, sorry, with this person," he said in one of the interruptions. "Everyone knows that he is a liar," he replied when Trump accused him of wanting to eliminate the private health insurance system, something that, in effect, is false.
The candidate who struggles to stay in office is usually the one who receives the attacks in a debate and focuses on polishing his management, but the Trump era has also liquidated this convention. The New York tycoon, haunted by criticism for his management of the health crisis, went on the attack and accused the Democrat of wanting to carry out an electoral program to the liking of leftist senator Bernie Sanders, a former primary candidate, and of "the radical left." of your party. "The thing is, I beat Bernie Sanders," Biden replied, then added, in one of those phrases that will be remembered tonight: "The Democratic Party is me."
The Obama-era vice president generally tried to keep cool in the face of Trump's cuts and provocations, to which he often reacted by laughing derisively.
The United States came face to face agitated: on Sunday, The New York Times had published explosive and highly coveted information, the tax data of the Republican of more than 20 years, which paints the portrait of a businessman who bills money in spades, but suffers losses and barely pays taxes thanks to fiscal pirouettes.
The express polls carried out by the CNN and CBS networks, as soon as the debate ended, granted Biden the victory, but it is not clear what that translates into. Only 3% of voters say that "probably" the debate would help them decide the vote, according to a recent survey by Monmouth University. And there is only 5% undecided, according to the same university. That handful of ballots, however, can be decisive in the hinge and key territories, such as Ohio itself, where the event was held. For those who sat in front of the television to make a decision, there were no surprises: each candidate made his own.
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