Who won the presidential debate?

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·3 min read
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Donald Trump y el candidato presidencial demócrata Joe Biden debatieron el martes en Ohio. (Getty Images)
Donald Trump y el candidato presidencial demócrata Joe Biden debatieron el martes en Ohio. (Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden have gone head-to-head in Cleveland, Ohio in the first of three televised debates ahead of the most contentious election in modern US history. But who won? Here, The Independent's US team give their instant reactions:

John Bennett, Washington Bureau Chief

Donald Trump likely amazed his conservative base, but few others. I had Joe Biden on my scorecard by a comfortable margin. He looked and sounded more presidential, while the incumbent bickered with his foe and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. Mr Trump even refused when pinned down to condemn white supremacist groups, especially the Proud Boys. The president refused, merely saying to the Proud boys: "Stand back and stand by."

Mr Biden repeatedly told the sitting president of the United States to "shut up" and "be quiet," calling him a "clown" on national television. Mr Trump yelled over the former VP all night, growing red-faced early on. He uttered false statements and offered very little in terms of a second-term vision. The former vice president appeared to do everything he intended to as he talked healthcare and coronavirus, trying to target white suburban women who supported Mr Trump in 2016 but broke for Democratic congressional candidates two years later. Winner: Biden.

Griffin Connolly, US Political Correspondent

The only person who won any sort of debate on Tuesday was Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker who publicly urged Joe Biden not to "legitimize" Donald Trump by engaging in a debate with him.

"Why bother? He doesn't tell the truth," Ms Pelosi said on Friday.

He apparently doesn't let anyone else talk either – not Mr Biden, not even the debate moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.

"Mr President, let him answer," Mr Wallace exclaimed. "Mr President, please stop."

At one point, Mr Trump and Mr Wallace feuded over the degree to which Mr Trump had interrupted Mr Biden throughout the evening.

"Frankly, you've been doing more interrupting," the Fox News host said, attempting to steer away from the squabble.

If one candidate can't even get a word in without being repeatedly, incessantly interrupted, what are we even doing here?

Lucy Anna Gray, Audience Editor

Joe Biden did exactly what he needed to. If he had acted like the obstinate, furious, erratic Donald Trump we saw tonight he would not have gained anyone's respect – that is not the politics people need right now. Although not a perfect performance, Biden got in just enough points to show himself to be the more mature and level-headed candidate. The winner tonight was clear.

Richard Hall, Senior US Correspondent

Tonight's debate diminished the United States. For decades, even in the midst of the most vitriolic and bitter election campaigns, presidential debates have been a chance for voters to hear candidates questioned on policy and challenged on their ideas. This was not that.

Donald Trump interrupted, shouted and lied his way through this debate. The moderator, Chris Wallace, lost control of the president early on and never got it back.

Answers on vital issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to a devastating economic crisis, were not heard. If there were any undecided voters out there before this evening, they would not have been helped by tonight's display.

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