Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

US presidential debate: Biden and Trump clash on coronavirus and healthcare

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden began the first presidential debate with heated exchanges over coronavirus and health care.

The two men frequently interrupted each other with angry interjections, with Mr Biden eventually snapping at his opponent: “Will you shut up, man?”

As the discussion about the Supreme Court quickly turned to coronavirus, Mr Trump claimed, without evidence, two million people would have died if his opponent were president.

Live stream and updates from the first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News pleaded with Mr Trump, stating that COVID-19 would be discussed later in the debate.

He then asked Mr Trump about whether he had a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and the president said: “First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s OK. I’m not surprised.”

The president said Mr Biden had adopted former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders’ “socialised medicine”
proposals.

And after he explained his health proposal, Mr Biden said: “He has no plan for healthcare… The fact is this man has no idea what he’s talking about.”

As the conversation moved to race, Mr Biden accused the president of walking away from the American promise of equity for all and making a race-based appeal.

“This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” he said.

Recent months have seen major protests after the deaths of black people at the hands of police.

And the former vice president said there is systemic racist injustice in the US while the vast majority of police officers are “decent, honourable men and women” there are “bad apples” and people have to be held accountable.

Mr Trump in turn claimed that his opponents work on a federal crime bill treated the African American population “about as bad as anybody in this country”.

The president pivoted to his hardline focus on those protesting racial injustice and accused Mr Biden of being afraid to use the words “law and order” out of fear of alienating the left.

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