Opinion: 2020 Presidential Debate

If you watched the entirety of the debate on Tuesday, I would first like to begin by saying that I am so sorry. To put it simply for those who did not get the chance to see it, it was a mess. An incoherent squandering mess, to be more specific.


Annie Mulligan, Local, National, and World News Editor

 All day before the debate, I felt uneasy. I was anxious the entire day, not knowing what to expect from either candidate. That was until they started interrupting each other incessantly rather than answering important questions.  A range of subjects were touched upon within the span of an hour and a half. Those range of subjects being: Supreme Court Justice Nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Coronavirus, the current state of the Economy, Racial and violence issues within our cities, and the integrity of the election. Two of which, I will discuss in length due to their current prevalence. 

Supreme Court Justice Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett 

With the recent and tragic passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many have asked the question, who comes next? In an attempt to beat the clock, the Trump administration is rushing to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice. This is troublesome because of RBG’s dying wish: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” 

With her wish and the question of constitutionality, these two sides clashed immediately. Not only was it because of her wish that the two candidates have such strong opinions of the issue, but it was also because of what happened in 2016. In 2016,  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia passed away in February of the election year. Because of this, the Republican controlled Senate thought it would be inappropriate to hold a vote on the topic. With this action, they set, what most people would believe to be, a precedent. Meaning, that their action to not hold a vote for a Supreme Court Justice should be regarded as customary and tradition if something similar were to occur. So, when Justice Ginsburg passed away, many believed that this “precedent” would be followed. However, given that the President is Republican and that the Senate’s majority is Republican, they jumped at the chance to fill the position. 

President Trump argued that it is his and America’s constitutional duty to appoint someone to the position. He even mentioned how he had plenty of time to get this done, despite the election only being a number of weeks away. While former Vice President Biden’s argument consisted of how the Affordable Care Acta form of government medicare the has been scrutinized by the Trump administrationis on the ballot, as well as abortion. 

The Affordable Care Act

At this point, President Trump refuted the claim that 100 million people have pre-existing conditions. However, his refutation was incorrect. In a 2017  study done by the Department of Health and Human services, they estimated that around 133 million people in America suffer from pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, or cancer. And as the subject changed, so did the claims and insults. President Trump accused Biden of wanting to “socialize medicine.” According to the drafted party platform, no. He wants to expand on Obamacare and make medicine more accessible, not socialize it. 

This then segued into a discussion surrounding COVID-19 and President Trump’s response to the pandemic, which then shifted back to Obamacare. Next, the candidates moved their attention to Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court Case that constitutionally justifies abortion. Since Amy Coney Barrett is a more conservative judge and has openly said that she is against abortion, Vice President Biden argued that this too is on the ballot November 3rd. 

Wallace then shifted back to Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act, questioning President Trump on what is his plan to replace Obamacare if it is overturned in the Supreme Court. President Trump mentioned the individual mandate, a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires people to acquire health insurance or pay a fine, and how he eliminated this because it was the “worst part of Obamacare.”. Similar to before, President Trump began to debate Wallace again. After a few moments of combative discourse, Wallace asked his question. Here is the healthcare exchange between Wallace and President Trump’s response: 

Wallace: “You, in the course of these four years, have never come up with a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare, and just this last Thursday you signed a largely symbolic Executive Order to protect people with pre-existing conditions five days before this debate. So my question, sir, is what is the Trump healthcare plan?”

President Trump: “Well, first of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s okay. I’m not surprised. Let me just tell you something. There’s nothing symbolic. I’m cutting drug prices. I’m going with Favored Nations, which no President has the courage to do because you’re going against big pharma. Drug prices will be coming down 80 or 90%. You could have done it during your 47 year period in government, but you didn’t do it. Nobody’s done it. So we’re cutting healthcare.” 

Wallace: “What about pre-existing conditions?”

President Trump: “All of the things that we’ve done.”

Vice President Biden: “He has not done healthcare.”

President Trump: “I’ll give you an example. Insulin, it was destroying families, destroying people, the cost. I’m getting it for so cheap it’s like water, you want to know the truth. So cheap. Take a look at all of the drugs that we’re doing. Prescription drug prices, we’re going to allow our Governors now to go to other countries to buy drugs because when they paid just a tiny fraction of what we do.”

Packing the Court?

This led to a debate regarding how Bernie Sanders is allegedly controlling the party along with the more far-left wing of the Democratic Party. Obviously, at this point the topic of Amy Coney Barrett was far gone, but Wallace, under fire by both candidates, was able to somehow shift the subject back with a question. Wallace asked Vice President Biden on his alleged plans to “pack the court.” Packing the court would add more Supreme Court Justices to the court, reclaiming the majority for the Democrats, if Vice President Biden is elected President. Because this question was very much controversial, Vice President Biden redirected it to the importance of voting, encouraging the people at home to get out and vote. Even after President Trump questioned him multiple times, there was no response, and Wallace swiftly moved onto the second segment of the debate. 


The first part of this discussion is what most Americans have been hearing from both sides. President Trump talked about how if former Vice President Biden were President two million people would be dead instead of 200,000 people. President Trump began by claiming Democratic governors said he did a “phenomenal job,” blaming the press for negative news coverage, and discussing how Vice President Biden did an awful job with the H1-N1 Swine flu. Vice President Biden argued how his own CDC director said we could lose as much as 200,000 more people by the end of the year, how President Trump downplayed the virus, and how a mask could help to reduce the numbers of deaths. 

Wallace then shifted the discussion of COVID to a soon predicted vaccine coming out. However, “soon” is subjective. Soon for the CDC is the summer, for President Trump, it’s before November 1st. President Trump claimed that the military would administer up to 200,000 vaccinations a day to people. Vice President Biden then responded by going over President Trump’s track history with COVID, saying how President Trump said this would be gone by Easter, then by summer. Vice President Biden then said that he heard we would not be able to distribute a vaccine until the middle of next year. To which President Trump responded, “You’ll have a vaccine sooner than that.” 


“Did you use the word smart?”

After a few more moments of questions, it opened up to open discussion, where the most memorable part of the debate happened. Vice President Biden questioned the people at home, asking them if they truly believed if he was telling the truth about the virus? He went on saying, “A lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets smarter, a lot quicker” 

This is when the President interjected, saying, “Did you use the word smart? So you said you went to Delaware State, but you forgot the name of your college. You didn’t go to Delaware State. You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word.” 

An obviously annoyed Vice President Biden responded, “Oh, give me a break.” 

President Trump responded, attacking Vice President Biden’s career in Congress, saying, “Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe. 47 years, you’ve done nothing.” 

Wallace Steps In

Wallace let them go on for a few moments, probably annoyed that the debate was so uncivilized and trivial, interjecting to move on before it would have gotten out of hand. Wallace asked Vice President Biden why he was more reluctant to opening up the economy and schools. Vice President Biden then argued that schools need proper measures to reopen, such as PPE in classrooms and funding to get more supplies to protect students and staff against a raging virus. Before he could finish his line of reasoning, President Trump interrupted, telling Biden to tell that to Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Vice President Biden retaliated, questioning why the Republicans won’t meet in the Senate and taking a shot at President Trump’s notoriety for playing golf quite often. This obviously led to a moment of trivial discourse between the two candidates, achieving nothing but childish bickering, despite the American people wanting an answer to these questions.

Wallace then fought his way into the discussion, trying to get the candidates back on track. A hot button issue, recently, is how President Trump continues to hold huge maskless rallies in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed over 200,000 American lives. Because of this, Wallace questioned Trump as to why he was holding these rallies and his stance on masks. President Trump responded, “No, I think masks are okay. You have to understand, if you look… I mean, I have a mask right here. I put a mask on when I think I need it. Tonight, as an example, everybody’s had a test and you’ve had social distancing and all of the things that you have to, but I wear masks…I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen. ” Trump tested positive for Coronavirus later that week. 

Despite the question being about masks, Vice President Biden attacked, what seems like President Trump’s strong point, the economy. Claiming the only way to reopen businesses is to provide stimulus. Being cut off by Wallace, he redirected Biden back to the subject at hand: masks. Vice President Biden reiterated the point of how wearing a mask would cut predicted deaths in half. To which President Trump interrupted claiming scientists have said the opposite, implying that wearing a mask would do nothing. Upset at this claim, Vice President Biden remarked that no serious person has said that. With questions concerning the rallies, both sides reiterated previous points made. Trump noting, “It’s not that big of a deal” and Biden replying that “it’s irresponsible and could be spreading the virus even more.” 

Given this debate, it will definitely be interesting to see what is going to happen. My best guess is that it will definitely be interesting and worth watching. Make sure you get out there and vote!