At 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, September 29, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will share the debate stage. With Trump repeatedly accusing Biden of being on drugs and Biden expected to take the president to task for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far cost the United States 205,000 lives, voters can expect a tense evening.
Chris Wallace, of Fox News, will moderate the contest for the second time. In 2016, he attempted to wrangle Trump and Hillary Clinton in one of the most vitriolic debates of the election. Tuesday’s event could even surpass that debate in terms of pure venom.
Here’s what to expect:
The 90-Minute Debate Will Cover 6 Topics, With Race, the Supreme Court & Coronavirus Likely to Spark the Most Action
The Commission on Presidential Debates last week released the list of topics that Tuesday night’s debate will cover, as selected by Wallace. There are six that the candidates will tackle in 90-minutes:
The Trump and Biden Records
The Supreme Court
Race and Violence in our Cities
The Integrity of the Election
Trump and Biden will first contrast their records as president and vice president. Trump and his allies have repeatedly attacked Biden and claimed in ads that his 47 years in government have been a “failure.”
Biden has publicly blamed much of the 205,000-strong U.S. coronavirus death toll on Trump’s management of the crisis, and it appears to have been working. Biden is leading Trump by between two and nine points in three national polls released Tuesday. He is likely to continue to hit Trump hard on the pandemic.
The rift over systemic racism and police killings of Black Americans only widened last week as well, with a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to pursue murder or manslaughter charges against the police officers involved in Breonna Taylor‘s March shooting. Voters can expect plenty of debate on the topic.
Trump has used demeaning language, including the word “terrorists” to refer to protesters and does not believe systemic racism is a problem in this country, Al Jazeera reported. Biden, meanwhile, has said that systemic racism extends beyond law enforcement in American society and that he would push for nationwide police reform if elected, CBS reported.
And with Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, already facing Democratic opposition over her nomination mid-election, as well as her ability to judge impartially and views on abortion, the direction of the Supreme Court should generate some fireworks.
Biden’s Camp Will Fact-Check Trump Live With a Dedicated Twitter Account
The Biden campaign has started a separate Twitter account called Truth dedicated to fact-checking Trump live during the debate.
“With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey,” the account’s bio reads, adding that it is a joint project of the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee war room.
The Washington Post noted that Trump has so far made 20,000 false or misleading statements in his presidency, per their fact-checking team, and that the debate may deliver a “blizzard of falsehoods.”
“The American people deserve to remember what it’s like to have a president who tells the truth again,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates told the Post.
The Trump War Room account, which has been active since March 2019, also tweeted that the Trump team will be posting “all the facts about Joe Biden’s lies.”
Trump Has Baselessly Accused Biden of Taking Drugs Before Debates, But It’s Unlikely There Will End Up Being Drug Tests
Joe Biden was asked whether he will take a drug test before the debate.
"No, I have no comment," he said. pic.twitter.com/jHX5qfESR2
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 27, 2020
It appears that the candidates will not be taking a drug test prior to the debate, despite Trump’s repeated demands for one and accusations that Biden takes performance enhancing drugs. Trump supporting doctor and Fox News guest Marc Siegel specifically suggested that Biden may be on the ADHD drug Adderall last week.
“They give him a big, fat shot in the a**,” Trump told his supporters at a recent rally as he said he would insist on the drug test. Trump’s claims that Biden uses drugs come from the former vice president’s perceived uneven performance at debates during the Democratic Primary.
Biden has laughed off the suggestion and called Trump a “fool” for the comments. The campaign on Sunday told Politico, “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have at it. We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who p***ed away the chance to protect the lives of 200,000 Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”
Many Twitter users, including comedian and former The Apprentice staffer Noel Casler, have suggested that it is Trump who uses the ADHD drug. “Trump literally had chunks of it flying out of his nose, but the [mainstream media] had given him a pass, Casler tweeted on Tuesday.
Expect Trump to Repeatedly Bring Up Accusations of Corruption Against Biden’s Son Hunter
Trump is likely to attack Biden’s son Hunter over allegations of corruption related to Hunter’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while his father was dealing with U.S.-Ukraine foreign policy.
A Republican-led Senate committee last week issued a report on the Bidens and Ukraine, which found no wrongdoing by the former vice president, The New York Times reported.
The report did indicate that Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma made things “awkward” for Obama administration officials pushing anticorruption policies in Ukraine and claimed that the younger Biden received millions of dollars from “foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.” You can read the full report here.
Expect Biden to Hit Trump Over the Recent New York Times Report on His Income Tax Returns; Biden Released His on Tuesday
Biden will almost certainly go after Trump over the revelations in ongoing New York Times reporting on his tax returns, which the paper obtained through anonymous sources. The report indicated that Trump owes hundreds of millions in loans, has operated many of his businesses at a loss for years and only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2017. Further, Trump paid zero dollars in taxes for years before that, according to the Times report.
Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, both released their tax returns on Tuesday morning, The Hill reported.
How much more did you pay in taxes than President Trump?
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 28, 2020
The Biden campaign has been having fun with the report on Trump’s tax returns and taking advantage of the outrage Democrats have expressed. This week, the campaign adding a “Trump tax calculator” to its website and even solicited $7.50, $75 or $750 donations.
Trump has called the Times story “fake” and alleged that the returns were provided to the paper “illegally.”
Tuesday night’s debate starts at 9 p.m. Eastern. Here is a guide to how to watch.