With just 35 days until the election, President Trump and Joe Biden took the stage in Cleveland for their first face-off but declined to shake hands due to the coronavirus—one of six topics moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News plans to question the candidates about tonight. The others: the candidates' records, the Supreme Court, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election. Up first was SCOTUS, but within minutes the debate had taken on a life of its own, with Trump sparring with Wallace and Trump, Biden, and Wallace talking over each other in a heated and insult-studded early exchange on health care.
- Wallace began by asking why each candidate's opinion on the timing of filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat is correct. Trump expressed that "we won the election. Elections have consequences." Biden responded that "we should wait and see what the outcome of the election is, because that's the only way the people can express their view." Trump's retort: "I'm not elected for three years, I'm elected for four years."
- Biden brought up Amy Coney Barrett’s past writings on the Affordable Care Act, which opened the door on a discussion of pre-existing conditions. When Wallace pushed Trump about what his healthcare plan is, Trump said, “I guess I’m debating you, not him. But that’s OK, I’m not surprised.”
- Trump then went after Biden on the topic, saying that what he has said about health care would turn off progressives. Biden called him a “liar” and a “clown.” After another interruption, Biden said, "Will you shut up, man?"
- Up next: COVID. Trump vowed a vaccine would be ready "soon" and said he was speaking "sarcastically" when Biden brought up Trump's previous comments about Americans consuming bleach. When asked about masks, Trump said "I think masks are OK. I put a mask on when I think I need it." He then mocked Biden for wearing one all the time. Biden then expressed that experts have said 100,000 lives could be saved by January if mask wearing and social distancing recommendations are adhered to. Trump responded that many health experts have said "the opposite" on the subject of masks. Biden: "No serious person has said the opposite."