CLEVELAND, Ohio -- On Tuesday, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took a socially-distanced stage at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace, the 90-minute long debate was separated into six segments, the records of each candidate, the Supreme Court, coronavirus, economy, race & violence and election integrity.
To adhere to guidelines developed by the CDC, President Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden were placed at podiums six feet apart and did not shake hands at the beginning of the debate. Audience capacity was limited to 100 people all of which were screened for coronavirus symptoms before entering.
However, President Trump’s positive coronavirus test result has experts wondering if enough was done. According to Time Magazine, debate attendees were asked to wear masks but not everyone complied. First Lady Melania Trump, who later tested positive for COVID-19, removed her mask after entering the debate hall.
Tuesday’s presidential debate has been deemed by many commentators as one of the most explosive and chaotic in American history. Moderator Chris Wallace, throughout the 90-minute debate attempted to maintain order. Multiple times throughout the night Wallace urged President Trump to allow Former Vice President Joe Biden the two minutes allotted for each candidate’s answers.
Wallace at one night brought the debate to a complete halt stating, “the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions.” In an interview a Fox News peer, Bill Hemmer, Wallace claimed “the president bears the primary responsibility for what happened.” Wallace added, “It was frustrating for me because I tried hard to prepare for a serious debate, much more frustrating and more importantly for the American people because they didn't get the debate they wanted that they deserved.”
The most pogiant part of the debate however was when the candidates were questioned on race relations in the United States. Wallace asked President Trump to condemn white supremacy and far-right militia groups. President Trump asserted, “Proud Boys stand back and stand by.” Trump went on to divert the topic to the left-leaning Antifa. He said, “Somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing.”
Rhode Island College Communication Professor Dr. Valerie Endress takes students to New Hampshire every presidential cycle and runs the RIC branch of the American Democracy Project. Dr. Endress responded to the debate stating, “It was so far off the rails it was difficult to talk about in some ways. It was full of interruptions, it was full of incivility, it was full of insults.”
Dr. Endress said that she fears that debates like this would stir the younger generation away from voting. She said, “The real fear to me is not that people are angry or they are mad, it's that they are so cynical about this that they don't go out to vote.”
Following Tuesday’s debate, the commission on presidential debates announced that they would consider implementing news rules such as muting mics, for the remaining debates. President Trump said that he would not adhere to the new debates. He tweeted, “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time.” However, the President’s COVID-19 case could result in cancellation or postponement of one or more of the remaining debates.
Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to take the debate stage at the University of Utah this Wednesday at 9 p.m.