Chaotic. Explosive. Dirty. None of these words would sufficiently describe the first of three U.S. presidential debates that just took place between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday night. Toward the beginning of the debate, S&P 500 futures rallied with investors betting on Trump’s performance and ultimately turned negative as Wall Street was unsure that a decision would be made on election night, with Trump signaling a potential appeal to the Supreme Court to decide the outcome. Here are the highlights of the debate.
Within minutes of the start of the debate, Biden announced, “The fact is everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie, I’m not here to call out his lies, everybody knows he’s a liar” to which Trump responded, “Joe, you’re the liar.” Trump went on to claim that drug prices would be coming down 80%-90% and added, “You could have done it during your 47 years in government but you didn’t do it.”
Biden surprised many by distancing himself from progressives, publicly rejecting both Bernie Sanders’s health care plans and the "Green New Deal.” Trump called him out for it saying, “You just lost the left.” Biden shot back saying, “Folks do you have any idea what this clown is doing,” referring to the president.
Trump confronted Biden over “packing the court” or adding justices to the Supreme Court, something congressional Democrats have threatened Trump with doing. Biden side-stepped the question and didn’t address what he would do, adding “will you shut-up man” to Trump’s insinuation that he would appoint “radical left” justices.
Biden continued the insults, calling Trump a “fool” for the way he handled the coronavirus, blaming him for downplaying the role of masks and social distancing. Trump, in turn, blamed Anthony Fauci, the head of the COVID-19 task-force.
Trump also denied the reports that he only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, saying he “paid millions of dollars.” Biden asked to see his tax returns and added the term “inshallah” meaning “God-willing” when Trump said they would be disclosed when they were “done” referring to the audits he claims he is under by the Internal Revenue Service.
On taxes, Trump warned that companies would leave the U.S. if Biden rolled back his tax cuts. The rest of the debate was a war of words between the two candidates. Trump accused Biden’s son of being dishonorably discharged for cocaine use and later for accepting millions of dollars from the wife of the mayor of Moscow and from Ukraine, which both accusations Biden denied.
Online sentiment following the debates was of disgust at how distastefully the two candidates conducted themselves as well as criticism of the moderator who was unable to keep the two in check throughout the discussion.
With millions of Americans having already cast their ballots and with millions more doing so now, how much these debates will ultimately impact the outcome is uncertain, but for now, markets are betting on an inconclusive result on Election Day.
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