Front-runner Joe Biden and a politically wounded Donald Trump took the stage in Cleveland on Tuesday for their first televised debate haunted by a deeply divided nation 35 days before the most strained US election in recent years.
There was no handshake when the two men took the stage, and although this was due to the limitations of Covid-19, the lack of the traditional greeting symbolized the bitterness that engulfed the country on the final countdown to November 3rd.
After the opening healthcare exchange in which Trump accused Biden of being a “socialist,” the tension was palpable and mutually interrupted.
But before they even showed up for the first of three 90-minute TV showdowns, barbs flew.
Trying to use Trump’s crucial support among workers’ voters, Biden took advantage of the bombshell discoveries that billionaire Trump had managed to pay almost no federal income taxes for years.
And Trump, at risk of becoming a president for a term, pushed for a conspiracy theory that his challenger would need performance-enhancing drugs and possibly wear an earbud to get answers during the debate.
Covid and taxes
Biden, who had an impressive lead in both national and swing-state polls, wanted to increase public dissatisfaction with Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which killed more than 200,000 Americans.
The Democrat was also expected to expose Trump’s tax avoidance at the New York Times, arguing that this shows that the billionaire’s real estate mogul is a fake in claiming to stand up for what he “forgot men and women.” Women “calls.
“That choice is Scranton vs. Park Avenue,” tweeted 77-year-old Biden shortly before the debate, referring to his die-hard youth home in Pennsylvania and Trump’s dazzling background in Manhattan.
Trump, who broke the president’s longstanding transparency by refusing to publish his tax returns, reportedly used loopholes in his first year of presidency to pay just $ 750 in federal tax. Hours before the debate, Biden published his own tax returns.
Trump, meanwhile, drew on his glaring narrative that the Democratic challenger is senile and needs drug testing.
And his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh reinforced a new arc on social media that Biden suspected of trying to cheat with an earbud.
But just before Biden entered the debate, he responded humorously and tweeted: “It’s debate night, so I have my earpiece and performance improver ready.”
Below was a photo of standard headphones and a tub of Jeni’s ice cream – “salted peanut butter with chocolate stains”.
Landing in Cleveland prior to the debate, a senior Air Force One official told reporters that 74-year-old Trump was “ready”.
The official said Trump would bring former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – now a controversial attorney for the president – and mixed martial arts fighter Colby Covington as guests.
Giuliani, who has made shadowy efforts on Trump’s behalf to tarnish Biden’s son’s activities in Ukraine, was clear about what his client should be doing.
“He doesn’t have to hold back,” Giuliani was quoted by Politico as saying. “I think Biden is a bad guy not to worry about, you know, if you’re too careful with him.”
That would surely lead to Trump trying to corner Biden over his son Hunter’s lucrative job with a Ukrainian energy company while Biden was Vice President under Barack Obama.
While the deal raises ethical questions, there is no evidence of actual wrongdoing by the Bidens – and Trump’s attempts to prove otherwise resulted in him being indicted by Congress for abuse of office last year.
Supreme Court trump card
Trump also went to Cleveland with a silver bullet – his appointment as Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace late-liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court.
If Barrett is swiftly affirmed, as the Republican-led Senate expects, Trump will have the Supreme Court firmly tilted to the right for years to come.
Democrats cry badly over the hasty timing, but Trump expects the power play to energize the Conservatives.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)