First Presidential debate a chaos: Trump says he is ready for second one, but Biden doubts

Amid claims and counter-claims, it is still not clear whether the scheduled second Presidential debate would take place. Even if it happens it is also not clear it would be a smooth one and would not end like the first debate, which was a debacle.

By J.V. Lakshmana Rao

The first US Presidential debate, held between US President Donald Trump of the Republican Party and former US Vice President and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, was chaotic, that was telecast live worldwide from Cleveland (OH) on September 29.
But now doubts have been cast over the holding of the second Presidential debate in Miami on October 15, because Trump was reported positive for Covid-19 on October 2.
Trump, who was immediately admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, was discharged on October 4, after undergoing treatment for three nights.
Now a triumphant Trump has claimed that he is fit and would resume his campaigning and participate in the second Presidential debate. But the Joe Biden team has said that he would not participate in the debate if Trump remains Coronavirus-positive.
The supporters of Biden doubt Trump’s “tall” claims, and say that unless he is “Super Trump,” his recovery from the virus after only a three-night hospitalization can be nothing short of a “miracle.”
Amid claims and counter-claims, it is still not clear whether the scheduled second Presidential debate would take place. Even if it happens it is also not clear it would be a smooth one and would not end like the first debate, which was a debacle.
Those, who watched the first of the scheduled three debates, between Trump and Biden, felt it was disastrous.
The bitterness between them was evident right from the beginning. Biden was already there at the podium when Donald Trump arrived on the stage and took his position. There was no greeting of each other, nor was there a customary handshake or a warm hug between them, though Biden stretched his hands in a gesture, but quickly took back due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The 90-minute debate began right earnest between the two contestants from the time a seasoned moderator Chris Wallace briefed them before the debate, the modalities to be followed, and asked them to go ahead with their pleadings.
Soon, shouting akin to near-cacophony began and, much to the annoyance of Biden, Trump started interrupting at every stage. Irritated by Trump’s frequent interruptions, Biden retaliated angrily.
Even calling Trump a liar, Biden said: “The fact is that everything he (Trump) said so far is simply a lie. I am not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he is a liar.”
As the bitter debate was in progress, an irritated host Fox News’ Chris Wallace, in an effort to cool the debaters down, appealed to them: “Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be any different than the two of you.” But as Trump pointed out his finger towards Biden, Chris Wallace told Trump: “Frankly, you have been doing more interrupting.”
Trump and Biden also clashed over the filling up of Supreme Court vacancy, move for scrapping of Obama Care, the administration’s handling of the Corona Virus, mail-in ballot system, and the debate was marked by frequent interruptions by both the candidates.
The debate being dominated by a clash over the issue of racism, the moderator asked Trump, if he was willing to condemn the white supremacists and militia groups, Trump initially said: “I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing. I am willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
When Trump was asked to clarify his stand, he said he wanted to know the name of the group, Biden intervened and named the group as “Proud Boys” known as far-right outfit that has been designated as hate group. To that Trump pointed out to the left-wing anti-fascist movement called “Antifa” and said it was not a right-wing problem, and it was a left-wing problem, clearly implying that he would not condemn white supremacists.
But Biden accusing Trump of trying to do everything to generate racist divide and hatred, said that this President talked about helping African Americans, yet one in 1000 African Americans was killed because of the Coronavirus. But one in 500 African Americans would be killed by year-end, if Trump did not act immediately and come to their rescue.
In retaliation, Trump attacked Biden for his role in authoring the controversial 1994 crime bill which had allegedly contributed to mass incarcerations. Trump claimed that he was letting people out of jail now and added: “You have treated the black community as bad as anyone in the country. You called them super-predators and you have called them worse than that.”
But Biden, responding to that allegation, said, “I never said it.”
Recalling Trump’s past remark that there were “good people on both sides,” in reply to query what he thought about a women was being killed in a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Biden said, “No President has ever said anything like that,” suggesting that Trump was siding with white supremacists.
Biden said: “It is about equity and equality. It is about decency. It is about the Constitution. And we have never walked away from trying to seek equity for everyone, equality for the whole of America, but we have never accomplished it. Yet, we have never walked away from like he (Trump) has done.”
Chris Wallace referred to a report in the media that Trump had paid only $750 as personal income tax in 2016 and 2017, and asked him when he would make his personal income tax details public, the President said he would eventually release them. “You will get to see them.”
Taking advantage of the situation and, in an attacking mood, Biden said: “Trump does take advantage of the tax code and pays less tax than a school teacher.” But Trump took it lightly and said that all business leaders do the same, unless they are stupid.”
Claiming that he had paid millions of dollars as income tax, he described the media report that he paid just $750 as income tax in the year he was elected the US President as “wrong.”
When Biden insisted on him to show his tax papers, Trump said: “I paid $83 million in one year. I paid $27 million in one year. You will see it as soon as it is finished. You will see it.”
With regard to the election process, Trump has been apprehensive of the fairness of outcome of the mail-in ballot system, which has been found credence by majority of voters because of the Covid-19 pandemic fear. The election process did become as another major issue for the debate particularly for Trump, who would not favor the mail-in ballot system. He said that he would not accept the results of the elections if it went against him when all the ballots were counted. The reason — he doubted that all unsolicited mail-in ballots would be subjected to fraud and the results of the election should be declared on the Election Day – November 3 – itself. In fact, he asked his supporters to go to the polling stations on the day of the election.
At the conclusion of the torrential debate, the moderator asked both the contestants if they would honor the election results, Trump was clear in not giving a guarantee for peaceful transfer of power, should he lose the election. “This is not going to end well,” Trump said.
Trump criticized the US election system pointing out at some stray instances of electoral discrepancies.
In India, the US Presidential debate has found an echo, when an “influential” Opposition party leader raised an issue against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram hit out at Narendra Modi over Donald Trump mentioning India during the Presidential debate.
Chidambaram tweeted: “Mr. Donald Trump clubs India with China and Russia and accused the three countries of hiding the number of Covid deaths. He also accused the three countries for causing the most air pollution. Will Modi hold another ‘Namaste Trump!’ rally to honor his dear friend?”
In a rage of anger during the debate, Donald Trump mentioned India twice while arguing with Biden. As Biden started cornering Trump on the US government’s response towards the Covid-19 pandemic and the US emerging as the worst-affected country in the world, Trump attempted to shift the blame towards China and India.
Trump said: “We don’t know how many people died of Covid-19 in China, Russia, India… because they do not give straight answers; they don’t give real numbers.”
Trump’s memory was very short. He conveniently forgot when he had profusely thanked India for shipping 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to the US for treating Covid-19 in April.
This was India’s biggest export of the drug to any country that followed a request by Trump to Modi to release supplies of hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the respiratory disease.
Similarly like Trump, India’s financial wizard Chidambaram’s memory has also been short after returning from the jail, to fire a salvo of sarcasm against Narendra Modi.
While the first US Presidential debate was a debacle and disastrous, the peoples of the US and the world would wait and watch how the other two forthcoming debates would shape up to influence and impress the voters to elect the next US President.

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