Skyler Leathrum, Correspondent
On Sept. 29, incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in a heated presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, featuring dozens of interruptions that came mostly from Trump. The debate was moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
The debate was separated into six segments, covering a range of topics including the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court, current racial tensions and several other hot button topics currently affecting Americans.
Wallace asked both candidates about the current Supreme Court vacancy prompted by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump has nominated Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ginsburg.
“She will be as good as any justice to serve on that court,” Trump said of Barrett. “We have the Senate and we have the White House and we have a fantastic candidate.”
Biden wielded the same position on the matter that GOP senators held in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court following the death of Antonin Scalia prior to the 2016 election.
“The American people have the right to have a say in the Supreme Court justices,” said Biden, explaining that he feels a new justice should be chosen by the winner of the upcoming election.
During the economic segment, the recent report on Donald Trump’s tax statements were mentioned. The New York Times report revealed that Donald Trump reported years of losses and paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017.
President Trump said these statements did not show the full truth and that he has “paid millions in dollars of taxes,” claiming that Biden “passed the tax bill that gave us these credits.”
The candidates also discussed the pandemic and the economy. Trump pointed to economic recovery in several U.S. states, and that his administration has helped lay out plans for reopening. Though the plans may have helped stimulate local economies, as Biden pointed out, early reopening could have prompted an increase in cases.
Asked about current racial tension and violence in the U.S., Biden said he would continue training for racial sensitivity that Trump ended recently for federal jobs. Trump said that the training was teaching employees “to hate America.”
Biden responded, saying, “It’s about equity and equality and upholding our constitution” and that the training aims to show people how their actions affect others.
“We need to retrain the police and we need to make them help the people,” said Biden, echoing calls from groups like Black Lives Matter to reform policing.
Asked exactly what he believed about climate change science, he brought up the current issue of the California forest fires, saying, “We need forest management.” He further said that he believes “to an extent” that people have an influence on climate change.
Biden was asked about his plans for renewable energy and if plans to shift away from traditional energy sources would hurt our economy.
“I helped lower the cost of renewable energy,” said Biden. “There are so many things we can do to create jobs through renewable energy.”
Biden went on to discuss his plan to create jobs in renewable energy, reduce the amount of greenhouse gas production by business and support for his effort to adopt renewable energy on a national level.
During the final segment, Wallace asked about Trump’s prior statements on voting by mail.
“They have mailmen selling the ballots and dumping them in rivers,” said Trump, continuing claims that mail-in ballots cause voter fraud.
Wallace asked Biden if he was concerned about the Supreme Court settling the election in the case that its validity is disputed.
“I am concerned about any court settling this election,” he said.
Wallace ended the debate by asking if both candidates will not declare victory until the election is independently verified, and whether they would urge their supporters not to cause civil unrest in the event of their loss.
Trump avoided the question and encouraged his supporters to show up to polls to “watch” people vote. However, Biden said directly, “I will urge my voters not to cause civil unrest” and that he will accept whatever the outcome of the election is.
The vice presidential debate between incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris will be held on Oct. 7, followed by two more presidential debates on Oct. 15 and on Oct. 22.