The debate was a bunch of bickering and interrupting. Did you hear any facts? Did you hear any truth? Did you hear any lies? Do you think all Trump supporters are racist? What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the first 2020 debate?
In the first debate of an election marked by a tumultuous summer of protests over racism and police brutality, the presidential candidates debated whether “systemic racism” existed in America.
President Donald Trump, who has centered racist rhetoric and attacks on people of color in both his campaigns, implied that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is racist, referring back to his work on the 1994 federal crime bill. He also characterized anti-racism protests and the Black Lives Matter movement as violent.
Biden focused on calling the problems that Black Americans encounter systemic injustice.
Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated the debate, asked several questions that hewed closely to the right-wing views of the anti-racism demonstrations as violent behavior rather than democratic protest. And he focused extensively on areas of the country where demonstrations have turned violent. At one point, he asked Biden if he had “ever called the Democratic mayor of Portland or governor of Oregon and said, ‘You have to stop this. Bring in the National Guard. Do whatever it takes. Stop the days and months of violence in Portland’.”
Trump repeatedly used the phrase “the China plague,” a racist description of COVID-19 at a time when Asian Americans are dealing with a rise in hate crimes, without being challenged. Wallace ahead of the debate had said he believed a moderator’s role should be to be “as invisible as possible.”
Wallace asked each candidate why Americans should trust them to “deal with the race issues facing this country over the next four years.”
Trump pointed to a speech that Biden gave as a senator in 1993 in support of the crime bill, which as a law resulted in the mass incarceration of Black men in particular. He then immediately pivoted to talk about his own support among “military generals and law enforcement” and said he thinks Democratic mayors of some cities where protests happened should have used the threat of force to end demonstrations.
“He did a crime bill. 1994. Where you called them super-predators, African-Americans. And they have never forgotten it—they’ve never forgotten it, Joe. You did that. And they call you super-predator and I’m letting people out of jail now—you have treated the African-American population, community—you have treated the Black community about as bad as anybody in this country,” Trump said.
In the speech, Biden said there were “predators on our streets” who were “beyond the pale” and could not be rehabilitated by the criminal justice system. He has since tried to distance himself from his involvement in aspects of the 1994 crime bill.
Biden, who won the Democratic primary in large part thanks to the support of older Black voters in the South, pointed to large rallies of white supremacists across the country in places like Charlottesville and to Trump’s comments after those rallies, and added that Trump has done “virtually nothing” for Black Americans.
For weeks, Trump has attacked Biden and warned suburban voters that their communities would be destroyed by plans to build low-income housing in their neighborhoods. The attack most notably surfaced when Trump and the Republican National Committee invited the McCloskeys, a St. Louis couple who were charged with unlawful use of a weapon after they aimed guns at Black Lives Matter Protestors outside their property, to speak at the party’s convention about the threat of the movement. In their speech, they warned Trump supporters that what happened to them could “easily happen” to anyone.
The administration’s plan to direct federal agencies to halt training sessions on racial sensitivity. And he asked if Trump believed that systemic racism existed in America. “I ended it because it’s racist,” Trump responded. “I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane. It was a radical revolution that was taking place.” “They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, that it is a racist place,” he added.
Wallace ended the segment by asking Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and the violence their militias have caused at protests across the country.
Trump, who said he was “willing to do that”, then told white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys to “stand back and standby” before adding that most things he saw were from the “left wing.” “Somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left. It’s not a right wing problem, it’s a left wing problem,” the president added.
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