Trump, Biden meet in bitter first debate

  • Wednesday 30, September 2020 06:05 AM
  • Trump, Biden meet in bitter first debate
Sharjah24 – AFP: Frontrunner Joe Biden and a politically wounded Donald Trump took the stage in Cleveland for their first televised debate Tuesday, watched by a deeply divided nation 35 days ahead of the most tense US election in recent memory.
There was no handshake as the two men took the stage and while this was due to Covid-19 restrictions, the absence of the traditional greeting symbolized the bitterness engulfing the country in the final countdown to November 3.

From the opening exchanges over healthcare, where Trump accused Biden of being a "socialist," the tension was palpable, interrupting each other.

But before they even appeared for the first of three 90-minute TV showdowns, barbs were flying.

Biden, seeking to eat into Trump's crucial support among blue collar voters, capitalized on bombshell revelations that the billionaire Trump managed to avoid paying almost any federal income taxes for years.

And Trump, facing the threat of being made a one-term president, pushed a conspiracy theory suggesting his challenger needs performance enhancing drugs and might wear an earpiece to get answers during the debate.

- Covid and taxes -
Biden, with an impressive lead both in national and swing state polls, was looking to zoom in on public dissatisfaction with Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

The Democrat was also expected to hammer away at The New York Times expose of Trump's tax avoidance, arguing that this shows the billionaire real estate mogul is a phony when he claims to champion what he calls "the forgotten men and women."

"This election is Scranton vs. Park Avenue," Biden, 77, tweeted just before the debate, referring to his hardscrabble boyhood home in Pennsylvania and Trump's glitzy Manhattan background.

Trump -- who has broken longtime presidential transparency by refusing to publish his tax returns -- reportedly used loopholes to pay just $750 in federal tax during the first year of his presidency. Hours before the debate, Biden published his own tax returns.