Trump tries to disorient Biden in chaotic and sour first debate

By Lucia Leal

Cleveland, United States, Sep 29 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States and Republican candidate for re-election, Donald Trump, tried Tuesday to disorient his rival in the November elections, Democrat Joe Biden, with constant interruptions in a chaotic and sour debate that reinforced the uncertainty about what will happen following the elections.

Trump and Biden met for the first time in Cleveland, in the key state of Ohio, where they argued for more than 90 minutes without interruption on some of the issues that most concern voters, but all attempts to delve into those issues were frustrated by interruptions or personal attacks.

“It is difficult to be able to pronounce a single word with this clown,” Biden went on to say at one point in the debate, although later he corrected himself: “Excuse me, this person.”

Indeed, Trump did not stop interrupting his opponent throughout the exchange, to the point that the moderator, journalist Chris Wallace, had to remind the president at least twice that his campaign had promised to respect the time allotted to each candidate to answer the questions.

Biden mocked Trump for “babbling” while he spoke and at one point blurted out a “can you shut up, man?” but he managed to complete several of the arguments he had prepared and tried to address the American voters directly by staring at the camera.

“Under this president, we have become weaker, poorer, sicker, more vulnerable and more divided,” the former US vice president said.

Trump branded Biden at the beginning of the debate as a “socialist” and “controlled” by the left of his party, and did not take long to take the debate to the personal level, repeating his unproven accusation that the son of his rival, Hunter, engaged in “corruption” by working for a gas company in Ukraine while his father was vice president.

And Biden directed even more insults than he received, calling the president a “liar,” “racist,” and “having no idea what he is talking about,” as well as blurting out: “Get out of your (White House) bunker and your sand trap on the golf course, and do what needs to be done to save lives (from the pandemic).”

The American president was more focused on reacting to what Biden was saying than trying to send clear messages to voters, and emphasized his favorite campaign slogans: his defense of all things law and order, and his insistence that the November elections will be “rigged.”

“It is a fraud, and it is a shame,” Trump stressed, insisting on his argument that voting by mail favors electoral fraud, something that multiple studies have shown is not true.

Trump said that due to the delays stemming from the pandemic and the increase in voting by mail, the result of the elections could take “months” to be known, but he refused to answer with a yes to the question of whether he would commit to appease his followers in the event that the winner is not known on Nov. 3.

“What I urge my followers is to go to the polling places and observe everything very carefully, because that is what they have to do,” the president concluded.

Meanwhile, Biden said he would call for calm until the winner of the elections is known, and said his rival “is simply afraid to count the votes.”

Trump influenced his recurring suggestion that he could not accept the result of the elections if he is not declared the winner, and repeated his expectation that the issue ends in the Supreme Court, whose Republican majority could be reinforced if the Senate approves a new judge nominated by him before the elections.

The president also refused to directly answer the question of whether he was willing to condemn the actions of white supremacists and their militias in the country by saying that “Almost everything I see (concerning riots) comes from the left.”

Biden said Trump “constantly adds fuel to the fire,” and that if he avoids clearly reprimanding those groups it is because it is convenient for him “to generate a racist hatred, a racial division” in the country.

What Trump did clarify is that he does believe human activity contributes “to some extent” to climate change; while his rival promised that, if he wins, he will return the US to the Paris Agreement on climate and threaten Brazil with “significant economic consequences” if it does not stop “mutilating the Amazon rainforest.”

The turbulent night in Cleveland left a bad taste in the mouth of many voters and commentators, who lamented the lack of substantive debate on the issues that matter to Americans.

“This will be considered the worst presidential debate in history and questions the viability of the next two debates” that remain before the elections, the debate director at the University of Michigan, Aaron Kall told EFE.

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