Candidates participate in recent Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates
By Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
As it gets closer to election day, President Donald Trump and presidential nominee Joe Biden have engaged in debates on mask policies, racism, and police brutality, often bringing up the other’s personal life in an attempt to slight their opponent. On Sept. 29, they went head-to-head in the First Presidential Debate of 2020, discussing everything from campaign rallies and voting fraud to who has done better at reducing crime. With President Trump not following many of the previously agreed upon rules, Biden missing clear opportunities to expand on key issues, and the moderator letting it get out of hand, many say that this debate was the worst one yet.
One of the biggest issues of the night was when Trump declined to denounce white supremacy when he was specifically asked to comment on the current situations of violence seen in Kenosha and Portland. His answer specifically singled out the group, Proud Boys, a New York extremist group founded amid the 2016 Presidential Election under a “general hate” ideology.
Trump commented, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what: Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left. Because this is not a right-wing problem–this is a left-wing problem.” This statement has since landed the President in hot water and has become somewhat of a new logo for the Proud Boys group.
Another key issue of the night were the recurring challenges that Biden failed to address. Many watchers noted that he could have said more in the debate and it resulted in a series of missed opportunities for him. Overall, viewers thought that Biden appeared frazzled, even telling Trump to “shut up” at one point and referred to him as a “clown” during multiple instances. When the topic of climate change rolled around, however, Biden picked up a bit of steam. In an effort to prevent hurricane damage, he detailed his proposal to provide tax incentives to people who weatherize their homes. Biden also commented that Trump’s response to hurricanes is to “drop a nuclear weapon on them.”
The Vice-Presidential debate, held on Oct. 7, was less intense than the preceding presidential debate. Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence debated more in the form of a civil disagreement than a heated argument. Key topics of the night included health care, jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy.
Although not many voters solely base their voting decision on the outcome of the Vice-Presidential debate, this year might be different. With the large age gap between the two Vice Presidents, and the President’s recent contraction of coronavirus, voters may be more attuned to the Vice-Presidential Debate this year. Although it could not have been much help that both candidates ignored a key question addressing Biden’s age and the President’s recent illness of “What would you do if the President became incapacitated?”
One of the main highlights for Harris included her now famous words in response to Vice President Pence taking away from her time, continuing with, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking.” Pence countered when Harris announced her tentative plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic, commenting that it too closely resembled plans of action the current administration have tried to put into action. Pence stated “it looks a bit like plagiarism” in response.
With the recent news of President Trump contracting COVID-19, and many White House and campaign staff releasing updated news of their own cases, many wonder if future debates will indeed happen. After President Trump’s diagnosis, it was proposed that the next debate be done virtually, but Trump quickly refused. Another Presidential Debate is planned to take place on Oct. 22.