Everything you need to know from the 2020 presidential debates

Emily Beaman, reporter


Sept. 29, was the first presidential debate of the year between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The debate was moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace, who chose the six main topics of the debate.


For the first topic of the night, the issue of filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court arose. 

President Trump stood by the fact that he has the right to push for his nominee, Amy Coney Barett, to be confirmed. He believes her to be one of the most qualified people for the job and hopes her hearing doesn’t go like Brett Kavanaugh’s. He also said that in a reverse situation, the Democrats would be doing the exact same thing he was.

Biden argued for the seat to remain empty until the results of the presidential election are determined. He said this way, the American people would have more of a say in who is appointed. He also expressed concern for issues that may be brought before the court right before the election in an attempt to push a Republican agenda.

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden go head-to-head in presidential debate, Sept. 29. (Jim Watson)


President Trump continued to push his stance that China is completely at fault for the spread of the virus. He believes his administration has done a “phenomenal job” since the outbreak and said that a vaccine is highly likely to be released by the end of the year.

Biden attacked Trump’s administration for a lack of proper response to the virus because Trump “knew how serious it could become and still didn’t implement proper precautions.” He stressed the misinformation Trump has spread regarding the virus and urges Americans to stay safe.


Trump continued to express his pride in the strength of the American economy, before the pandemic, and it’s recovery growth. He attacked Obama/Biden’s economic recovery, saying it was some of the slowest in history.

Biden said that Obama inherited a recession, and they handed Trump a booming economy, “but he blew it.” Biden believes his economic plan would create more jobs than Trump’s has. He says he would eliminate some of the corporate tax reduction. 

Trump’s Town Hall

Oct. 15, 2020, President Trump participated in a town hall hosted by NBC News and moderated by Savannah Guthrie. 


Turning to cover gray areas from the previous debate, Guthrie brought up Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy.

According to Trump, he’s been denouncing it for years and also denounces Antifa and “the violent, vicious radical left that kill people and are burning down cities”. 


On the topic of a peaceful transfer of power in the case that Biden wins, Trump said he wants a “clean” and “honest election” but cannot ignore the ballots being dumped and thrown away that have his name on it. 

While Guthrie disputed this idea, saying that Trump’s FBI director has said there is no widespread fraud, Trump continued to say he was “not happy” about the “fraudulent and corrupt ballots.”

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate against former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Sept. 29. (Morry Gash-Pool)


The first question from the crowd asked Trump why he only placed a travel ban on China if he knew how dangerous the disease was.

Trump said he was the only one in his administration who wanted to implement the travel ban. He was told by Dr. Fauci that he “saved thousands of lives” by doing this.

He said he knew it was a big threat in January but didn’t want to panic the American people. “There isn’t a middle ground,” he said after Guthrie asked why he had to choose between creating panic or misleading the public.

The President stated that he is and has always been good with masks despite hearing stories of people who wear masks and still get infected.

He said the United States GDP, jobs, housing market, and economy are “phenomenal”. Trump claimed that last year he created the greatest economy in the history of the country and promises to make next year even better.


Trump explained how he plans to get rid of Obamacare entirely and replace it with something “much less expensive and much better.” He also promised to protect people with preexisting conditions. 


President Trump was asked why he hasn’t used his office to make the second stimulus payment an emergency relief package.

Trump said that Nancy Pelosi is the reason he can’t get any of it through. “She couldn’t care less about our workers or our people,” he said. Trump said he and Pelosi are in the middle of negotiations to have a “big and bold” bill pass.

Next, came a question asking how Trump’s lower corporate tax rates are helpful.

The President explained that his lower tax rate has brought more companies into the nation, leading to more jobs being created than ever before. 

Donald Trump and Joe Biden participate in final debate before Presidential Election, Oct. 22. Photo by Chip Somodevilla. (Chip Somodevilla)


An audience member asked if it’s hypocritical of the senate to push Trump’s nominee for SCOTUS when they were against Obama’s nominee four years ago. 

He said that he’s done what every other president has done when a seat in the Supreme Court opens and that it’s within his rights as President to fill the seat. 

Trump claims he never talks to his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barett, about any issue that may arise on the Court. 

Biden’s Town Hall

Joe Biden participated in his own town hall on Oct. 15. Biden’s was hosted by ABC and moderated by George Stephanopoulos.


Biden attacked the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, saying that it’s a president’s responsibility to lead, and Trump had his worries on the stock market rather than American safety. He said he would take measures to contain the pandemic while not ruining the economy by giving guidance and money to schools and businesses to take preventative measures.

On a potential vaccine, Biden said he would take it and encourage the public to as well. Requiring the vaccine under his administration would depend on the nature and distribution of it, but Biden said it’s impossible to enforce it. He urged the crowd and watchers to wear their masks.  


Biden said he wants to eliminate the top 1/10 of the 1% from getting most of the tax cuts and said he won’t tax anybody making under $400,000/year. He said that investing this tax money in certain areas, like infrastructure, would allow employment, GDP, and other areas of the economy to flourish. 


Biden attacked Amy Coney Barett for not responding to questions or having a judicial philosophy in her hearings. He said there are many protections at risk. On packing the court, he said he would release an answer by election day.


Biden said only “a little” credit should be given to the Trump administration  While Trump has done some good, Biden said it’s more important to see the United States is no longer trusted in the world. He said this is due to Trump embracing oil and dictators and leaving agreements with our allies. 


Biden said if he lost he’d go back to being a professor and “focus on what constitutes decency and honor”. He wants to promote togetherness, he said, unlike how Trump wants America to “divide and conquer.” If elected, he promised to be president for not just those who voted for, but against him as well, and will strive to “heal this nation.”


Biden claims he gets tested every day for COVID-19. He’s less concerned with himself and more concerned with the cameramen or secret service. He looks forward to the next debate and is confident that it will be safe.

Final Debates

On October 23, 2020, Donald Trump and Joe Biden took to the debate stage for the last time before Election Day. Here are some of the candidates statements and views from the night.


With Trump, he defended his bank account in China by saying he closed it before he ran for president in 2016, and then attacked Biden and his family for taking money from Russia. Considering North Korea, he boasted about the “very good relationship” he has with Kim Jong Un and promises to keep that relationship steady.

Biden explained his plan to “reign in” China by having more intense summits to discuss measures that need to be taken by both sides. He claimed to never have taken money from Russia and asked Trump about his secret Chinese bank account.

President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden exchange arguments during the first presidential debate, Sept. 29. (Jim Watson )


Trump spoke about his healthcare plan to get rid of Obamacare, but did not explain one he plans to implement in a potential second term. He says he wishes he could be passing more legislation but said Nancy Pelosi “doesn’t want me to approve anything”. He included that he would consider raising minimum wage but allowing it to be optional on a state to state basis. He ended by promoting his immigration policy, saying America currently has “the strongest border we’ve ever had”.

Biden plans on implementing a healthcare like Obamacare but with a public option. He said “healthcare isn’t a privilege, it’s a right” and doesn’t believe Trump’s plan can give the American people an affordable option. He strongly promoted a minimum wage increase to help support those making a living on those jobs. Finally, on immigration, he said in his first 100 days he would have a bill on the Congress floor about speeding up the pathway to citizenship.


Trump began by attacking Biden for the bill he tried to pass through Congress in 1994. Then, he moved on to say that “nobody has done what [he’s] done” while in office for the black community and other minorities. Once again, he promoted his stance that he is the president who has done the most for the black community, with the exception “arguably” of Abraham Lincoln.

Biden said he acknowledged he would never have to teach his daughter what black parents have to teach their children, and attacked Trump for being the first president to “stop moving towards inclusion”. He admitted his past stances on crime bills were a mistake, and advocated to focus on rehabilitation for prisoners.


Trump claimed that the environment under his administration has been the cleanest environment in history. He says Biden’s plan would cost 100 trillion dollars and would be an economic disaster.

Biden said climate change is the next existential threat. He claims his plan would not cost as much as Trump says, although he did not provide an alternative figure. He says his plan is heavily supported and would help the job market. Biden would also rejoin the Paris Accord and focus on moving towards net zero emissions by 2035.


Trump said our country’s success will bring us together. He said he plans on creating a bigger job market, expanding the economy and bringing America to success.

Biden wants to move forward and fix missed opportunities over the last three years to grow the economy, fix racism, and provide clean energy. “What’s on the ballot is the character of the country,” he said. “I’ll make sure you get [good character] because you haven’t been the last four years.”