Washington, USA | Xinhua | U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, clashed fiercely on Tuesday night during their first debate in the 2020 presidential race in Cleveland, Ohio.
Moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace opened the debate by asking Trump to explain his nomination of conservative federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court at a time only weeks before the November election despite strong pushback from Democrats.
“I will tell you very simply, we won the election. Elections have consequences,” Trump said. “We have the Senate, we have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all top top academic good in every way, good in every way.”
Biden, for his part, said that he believes Barrett “seems like a very fine person” but argued that “the election has already started,” referring to early voting in some states.
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“Tens of thousands of people have already voted. The thing that should happen is, we should wait,” the former U.S. vice president said. “We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is.”
Biden also sought to tie the nomination to Trump’s years-long efforts to repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, a comprehensive health care reform law enacted by then-President Barack Obama in 2010.
“The president has made it clear he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” the Democrat said. “He’s been running on that, he ran on that, and he’s been governing on that.”
Trump has long criticized health care costs and coverage under Obamacare and has vowed to repeal and replace it since his 2016 campaign. Supporters of Obamacare have pointed to Barrett’s past criticism of Supreme Court ruling in 2012 upholding the law and argued that the conservative’s presence at the high court could put it at risk.
“It’s a disaster. It’s too expensive. Premiums are too high. That it doesn’t work. We do want to get rid of it,” Trump said, while touting his own health care proposals, which Biden called “wishful thinking.”
The candidates went on to share their views on the COVID-19 pandemic, economy, protests and violence in U.S. cities, integrity of the election, and their records, amid chaotic exchanges at times that forced the moderator to intervene.
“Gentlemen! I hate to raise my voice,” Wallace said at one time. “I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions.