US NEWS

US elections 2020: What did moderator Chris Wallace and Trump argue about?

Last night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Ohio was hard work for moderator Chris Wallace with Trump constantly interrupting his rival.

US elections 2020: What did moderator Chris Wallace and Trump argue about?
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

Last night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Ohio was hard work at times for moderator Chris Wallace who had the task of maintaining order when it descended into a shambolic slanging match with the U.S. president constantly interrupting his rival. “Gentlemen, you realize that you’re both speaking at the same time,” Wallace said while trying to put questions to the two candidates. Several times during the 90-minute debate, Biden tried to make a point but a hostile Trump repeatedly talked over him, making it difficult to understand what either man was saying.

Constant interruption and butting in

Wallace was visibly frustrated and so was Biden, who at one point retorted, “Will you shut up, man”. Both men exchanged barbs – Trump calling out his rival, “There is nothing smart about you, Joe. 47 years, you’ve done nothing” and later, getting a taste of his own medicine with Biden firing back, “You’re the worst president America has ever had!”

When Wallace asked Trump to let his rival speak without interrupting him, the president replied that Biden was the one who was talking over him. "Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace told him. Tensions rose later when the moderator interrupted Trump as he was trying to respond to claims by his opponent that he had “poured gasoline on the fire” instead uniting the country in the Covid-19 pandemic. “"You know, if you wanna switch seats, we could do that,” an exasperated Wallace said.

Trump gives sarcastic reply

Wallace and Trump clashed several times over the night, at one point, the moderator tried to make his position clear. “Mr. President, I am the moderator of this debate and I would like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer. In the course of these four years, you have never come up with a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare and, just this last Thursday, you signed a largely symbolic executive order to protect people with pre-existing conditions, five days before this debate. So my question sir, is what is the Trump healthcare plan?” A question which Trump clearly didn’t like, he sarcastically sneered in response, “First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him. That’s ok, I’m not surprised” – which at least raised a smile from Biden.

The 72-year-old Fox News anchor also struggled to keep Trump to stick to the time constraints. "Wait a minute. Mr. President, your campaign agreed both sides would get two-minute answers uninterrupted. Well, your side agreed to it. Why don't you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule, OK, sir?" To which Biden exclaimed, “He never keeps his word…” Then when Trump tried to reply, he was cut short by Wallace, “No, no, no. I’m not asking. That was a rhetorical question." With Trump in belligerent mood, Biden calmer and doing most of his talking directly to the camera, it was a tiring experience for viewers and undoubtedly for Wallace. It’s a taste of what’s to come for C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully who will moderate the second presidential debate between Trump and Biden in Miami on 15 October.