Donald Trump, Joe Biden, clash in first of three scheduled debates


Photo credit: (Flickr) DonkeyHotey

Trump and Biden went head-to-head in the first debate on Tuesday night

Ole Olafson and Ivana Venema-Nunez

On Tuesday night, the first presidential debate was held at Case Western Reserve University, a private research college in Cleveland, OH.

There were reportedly around 90 people in attendance, all of whom were tested and found to be negative for coronavirus.  The event was organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, who pledged to follow CDC guidelines and used the Cleveland Clinic as health advisors.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the University of Notre Dame, but was cancelled by the school, citing feasibility issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The debate was moderated by Fox News Sunday anchor, Chris Wallace.  The 90 minute event was divided into six, 15 minute segments.  The Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race issues, why voters should choose you and election integrity were the highlighted topics.

Each participant was given two minutes at the beginning of each segment, which was supposed to be uninterrupted, but many times was not, to answer Wallace’s questions.  The remaining time was used for discussion.  Wallace often introduced other topics and regularly struggled to maintain control over the discussion portion of most of the segments.

According to PolitiFact of The Poynter Institute, both candidates made claims that need fact-checking.

On healthcare, Trump made two misleading statements, according to PolitiFact.  He said, “We guaranteed pre existing conditions” on health care coverage and also claimed that insulin is so cheap, “it’s like water.”

Trump signed an executive order on Sept. 24 that said those with preexisting conditions will be able to get affordable health care coverage, but legal and health policy experts said that the executive order guarantees nothing near the protections the Affordable Care Act had, according to PolitiFact. 

“I’m getting (insulin) so cheap, it’s like water.” was noted as mostly false, according to PolitiFact, since the executive order Trump signed at the end of July affected a select group of health care providers that represent less than 2% of the outlets for insulin and between 2017 and 2018, insulin prices rose for seniors.

“The truth is that patients who need drugs like insulin are having a hard time affording them, particularly for the many who are now uninsured,” said Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Stacie Dusetzina.

Biden made broad statements against Trump that need context such as, “The president has no plan (for the coronavirus pandemic)”, and the suggestion that Trump said injecting “some bleach in your arm and that would take care of (the coronavirus)” were half truths.

The Trump Administration has announced a plan on how it will distribute vaccines. The plan includes the two-dose vaccine free of cost, according to PolitiFact. However, public health experts do criticize Trump and his administration for not having a national testing plan and for not having a plan to combat the pandemic from the beginning.  

The suggestion that Trump said to inject bleach in order to eliminate COVID-19 stemmed from a comment in April that the president has claimed was sarcastic following a briefing about the effectiveness of disinfectants killing the virus on surfaces and in the air.

On Oct. 7, vice president Mike Pence and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris will debate in Salt Lake City, at the University of Utah.  Susan Page, USA Today Washington bureau chief, will moderate the vice-presidential debate.

There are two more presidential debates scheduled.  One on Oct. 15 and another, one week later, on Oct. 22.