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Six key takeaways from the presidential debate

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The presidential debate was, in the words of CNN’s Jake Tapper, “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck”.

The presidential debate was, in the words of CNN's Jake Tapper, "a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck".

The debate was low on substance, high on tension, and marked by constant interruptions, personal attacks and insults.

Neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden came across well in the debate.

Here are the six key takeaways from the debate.

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Biden tells Trump to 'shut up'

There's always cross-talk in presidential debates, but today's event felt filled to the brim with it.

Both Mr Trump and Mr Biden were guilty of it, but the president was the worst culprit, especially at the start.

It was within the first half hour that Mr Biden became exasperated.

"Will you shut up, man?" Mr Biden said.

"I'm not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he's a liar."

The shouting became so heated that moderator Chris Wallace had to raise his own voice in an effort to restore order.

Presidential debate descends into slanging match

"Gentlemen! I hate to raise my voice but why shouldn't I be different than the two of you?" Wallace said.

Soon after, Mr Trump mocked Mr Biden's intellect.

"He was responding to Mr Biden's statement that more people would die of coronavirus unless the president "gets a lot smarter".

"Did you use the word 'smart'? You graduated either the lowest or the next lowest in your class, don't ever use the word 'smart' with me," Mr Trump said.

"Oh, give me a break," Mr Biden replied.

Joe Biden hit back at Donald Trump's interruptions by telling him to 'shut up'.

Biden talks tough on coronavirus

Mr Biden accused Mr Trump of panicking at the start of the pandemic.

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"The president has no plan. He hasn't laid out anything," he said.

"He knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was."

Mr Biden mocked Mr Trump's claims that a vaccine for coronavirus could be available within weeks.

"This is the same man who told you by Easter this would be gone away," Mr Biden said.

"By the warm weather it would be gone. It's miraculous, like a miracle.

"Maybe you could inject some bleach in your arm."

Biden on COVID-19: 'The president has no plan'

Mr Biden was referencing a press conference in which Mr Trump suggested bleach could function as a treatment for COVID-19.

Mr Trump claimed he was speaking "sarcastically" when he said that.

Mr Trump said millions of people would have died of coronavirus if Mr Biden was president.

Mr Trump said the pandemic was "China's fault".

"When you talk about numbers, you don't know how many people died in China," Mr Trump said.

"You don't know how many people died in Russia. You don't know how many people died in India."

Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the first presidential debate.

Mr Trump claimed to be "weeks away from a vaccine".

He accused the "fake news" of giving him bad press.

Trump takes aim at Biden's son

Mr Trump specifically targeted Mr Biden's son Hunter more than once during the debate.

Mr Trump accused Mr Biden's son Hunter of crooked deals in a ugly personal blow.

"The Mayor of Moscow's wife gave your son $3.5 million," Mr Trump said.

"What did he do to deserve it?"

Mr Biden said that claim was "totally discredited".

Donald Trump hits out at Joe Biden's son

"It's hard to get any word in with this clown," Mr Biden said.

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Later, Mr Biden was speaking about his other son Beau, who served in Iraq before dying of an aggressive brain cancer.

"I don't know Beau. I know Hunter. Hunter got thrown out of the military," he said.

"He was thrown out, dishonourably discharged."

Mr Biden said that charge was not true.

Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

Mr Trump was asked pointedly by Wallace whether he condemned white supremacists, but he declined.

"I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing," Mr Trump said.

"I tell you what, somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem."

Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

He also gave an ominous shout-out to the Proud Boys, a group US intelligence sources views as a far-right extremist group.

"Proud Boys, stand back, stand by," Mr Trump said.

Trump warns of rigged election

Mr Trump declared the election was "rigged", and urged his supporters to watch people vote at the ballot box.

"I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen," Mr Trump said.

"If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that.

"That means you have a fraudulent election."

Mr Biden said he will urge his supporters to stay calm and he will pledge not to declare victory until the result is independently verified.

Chris Wallace struggled to maintain order during the debate.

"Once the ballots are all counted, that'll be the end of it," Mr Biden said.

"If it's me, that's fine. If it's not me, I'll support it."

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Mr Biden said Mr Trump was railing against absentee ballots in spite of the fact he did it himself.

"This is all about trying to dissuade people from voting because he's trying to scare people into thinking it won't be legitimate," he said.

"Show up and vote."

"He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election."

There are two more presidential debates scheduled ahead of Election Day on November 3.

Who won the debate?

It's fair to say that neither candidate came across well in the debate. Declaring a winner would be a fool's errand.

But given Joe Biden is clearly ahead in the polls, a stalemate in the debate is a positive sign for him.

Especially since Donald Trump made little effort to reach out to moderate voters, who represent the middle ground in the US electorate and will decide the election.

Mr Trump has only a few weeks to make up substantial ground with the American voters, so unless he is able to change a lot of minds, he is set for a loss.

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Source: 9News

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