Trump-Biden Final Debate: Coronavirus, Wind And Hitler

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photos by SAUL LOEB and JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden’s final debate on Thursday was a starkly more civil affair than their messy first showdown.

But that did not prevent the pair from clashing on everything from immigration to racism and even Adolf Hitler.

Here is a look some of the key moments of debate:

– Covid: ‘I will end this’ –
With the pandemic at the top of American voters’ minds, Biden pledged to get a handle on the virus that has killed over 220,000 in the US — while charging that “anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths” should not remain president.

“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” warned the former vice president, vowing, “I will end this” — though he didn’t say how.

Trump, just past his own brush with the virus, offered his usual sunny take despite cases surging again.

“It’s going away,” he said.

– ‘Criminal’ separations at US border –
Biden fumed over the report this week that parents could not be located for 545 migrant children separated from their families at the border with Mexico due to US immigration policy.

“Those kids are alone. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to go. It’s criminal,” Biden said, charging that the policy “violates every notion of who we are as a nation”.

Trump retorted that the children were being “so well taken of” while separated from their families.

“They’re in facilities that were so clean,” he said.

 

Trump or Lincoln?

Biden laced into Trump over his attacks on Muslims, insults against Mexico and his failure to condemn far-right extremists at the last debate.

“Come on, this guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn,” Biden growled sarcastically, in a reference to subtle, so-called dog whistle racism.

Trump, for his part, claimed his four years in office have been a time of historic improvement for African Americans.

“I’m the least racist person in this room,” he said.

“Not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done what I have done for the Black community,” Trump added, referencing the US president who moved to abolish slavery in 1863.

‘Innocent baby’

As promised, Trump pressed Biden to explain himself to the American people regarding allegations of corruption tied to his son Hunter in China and Ukraine.

“So don’t give me this stuff about how you are this innocent baby,” Trump charged.

“Take a look at the laptop from hell,” he said — pressing Biden on dubiously-sourced reports that incriminating emails had been found on a device belonging to his son.

“Joe, they are calling you a corrupt politician.”

Biden said he has never taken a “penny” from a foreign source.

Trump, wind expert-in-chief

Trump has always been dubious about human-caused climate change and attacked Biden about his plans to transition the US away from fossil fuels and toward green energy.

“He thinks wind causes cancer, windmills,” Biden said, launching a zinger.

Trump took exception to that allegation, saying “I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds. It’s very intermittent.”

Kim Jong Un and… Hitler

Trump’s bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was targeted by Biden, who accused the president of legitimizing a dictator.

“You know what, North Korea, we’re not in a war. We have a good relationship,” an outraged Trump said.

“Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing,” he said as the moderator tried to cut him off.

Biden slyly retorted that there were some previous examples of America’s friendly ties with certain leaders not working out in the long run.

“I understand we had a good relationship with Hitler before he in fact invaded Europe.”

Trump Insists Pandemic Almost Over, Biden Says He Did ‘Nothing’

(From L) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and wife of former US Vice President Joe Biden Jill Biden gesture after the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

 

President Donald Trump delivered a combative defense on Thursday of his COVID-19 response while election challenger Joe Biden — offering a glaring contrast in style in a rival town hall — accused him of doing “nothing” to end the pandemic.

The dueling appearances, scheduled at the same time on rival television networks, showed Biden giving unflashy, empathetic, often in-depth answers to voters in the audience, while Trump delivered a fiery, sometimes agitated defense of his presidency.

Trump, who trails in the polls ahead of the November 3 election, was especially under pressure about the coronavirus that has killed over 217,000 Americans and inflicted deep economic damage.

“We’re rounding the corner,” Trump insisted with his usual optimism, even as swaths of the United States see sharply rising caseloads.

But pressed by the host of the NBC town hall in Miami, he became quickly frustrated, especially when asked about his previous lukewarm denunciations of extremist rightwing groups in the country.

He notably refused to denounce QAnon, a conspiracy theory movement that claims Trump is waging a secret war against a global liberal cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

“I know nothing about QAnon,” Trump said, and then continued to praise the shadowy group’s position being “very much against pedophilia.”

The president entered calmer waters when fielding a series of more comfortable questions from members of the audience, one of whom sparked applause by telling Trump: “You have a great smile.”

– ‘Grudges don’t work’ –
By contrast, Biden’s appearance on rival network ABC mirrored his steady and generally low-key campaign, with promises of bipartisan healing in divided Washington and aiming steady fire on Trump’s coronavirus record.

“We’re in a situation where we have 210,000 plus people dead and what’s he doing? Nothing. He’s still not wearing masks,” Biden said of Trump at the event in Philadelphia.

His standout comments at a time of profound political conflict in the country were when he vowed to improve the atmosphere, saying “grudges don’t work.”

“We’ve got to change the nature of the way we deal with one another,” Biden said.

“If I’m elected president, the first thing — and not a joke… I’m going to pick up the phone and call them and say, ‘Let’s get together.'”

Biden repeatedly came back to the theme of unity, saying he would be president to all Americans including those who voted against him.

“We’ve got to heal this nation,” he said. “If I’m elected president you’ll not hear me race baiting, you’ll not hear me dividing, I’ll be trying to unify.”

In a gesture to those in the audience, Biden stayed on stage for some 30 minutes after the town hall ended so he could answer more questions.

– No debate –
Originally, both candidates were meant to meet Thursday for what would have been their second of three presidential debates.

The first was a brutal affair in which Trump repeatedly talked over Biden and the Democrat told him to “shut up.”

The follow-up was scrapped after organizers switched to a virtual format, citing Trump’s coronavirus infection, and the president refused to accept the arrangement.

Trump, who says he is clear of Covid-19 and returned to the campaign trail Monday, has rallies booked in battleground states every night this week.

He predicted to supporters in North Carolina earlier Thursday that Biden would be given an easier time on ABC.

“I’m being set up tonight,” he said.

The decision by NBC to accept a Trump appearance at the same time as Biden’s town hall likely meant that few Americans would get to see and contrast both men.

With only 19 days until the election, Trump is now running out of time to overtake Biden.

Even a close ally to Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham, said Thursday Biden may be on his way to victory.

“You all have a good chance of winning the White House,” he told Democratic colleagues at a hearing on Trump’s conservative Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump and Biden hold their final debate October 22, and Biden said that out of “decency” he expects both men will get coronavirus tests beforehand.

– Harris on hold –
Despite Trump’s insistence that the pandemic is in the rear view mirror, it continues to disrupt the election.

Following Trump’s temporary time out recovering, Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris has put her own travel on hold after her communications director and a flight crew member tested positive.

Harris did not need to quarantine, the campaign said, but “out of an abundance of caution” would suspend in-person campaigning until October 19.

Biden has reported multiple negative coronavirus tests since Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis on October 1, the latest on Thursday.

The campaign said that yet another person who tested positive had traveled on Biden’s plane this week but had been so far away that the candidate was in no danger and doctors said “there is no need” for him to quarantine.

 

 

-AFP

Twitter Alters Policy On Hacked Content After Blocked Biden Story

Employees walk past a lighted Twitter log as they leave the company’s headquarters in San Francisco on August 13, 2019. Twitter on August 13 said that by the end of the year users will be able to follow a small number of interests the same way they follow people. The feature will be rolled out internationally as the one-to-many messaging platform makes a priority of being an online venue for conversations rather than a pulpit for one-way broadcasting to the masses.
Glenn CHAPMAN / AFP

 

Twitter has altered its policy on hacked content after its decision to block a news report critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden provoked Republican fury.

The social media behemoth — used by hundreds of millions worldwide — said late Thursday it would in future only block stolen information which was posted directly by hackers, and label any other information of questionable provenance.

Senate Republicans earlier said they would subpoena Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey to testify before two different committees on why the company blocked links to an article in the New York Post alleging corruption by Biden in Ukraine.

Republican senator Ted Cruz called the decision “election interference,” while President Donald Trump — who trails Biden in polls 19 days before the presidential poll — decried the blockage by both Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter’s legal and policy executive Vijaya Gadde tweeted late Thursday that under changes to its two-year-old Hacked Materials Policy, the platform would “no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them.”

She said the social media giant would also label tweets to provide context “instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter.”

Gadde said the firm made the change to address “concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation.”

The furor came as social media companies grapple with questions of bias and misinformation during an election campaign characterized by controversy and divisiveness.

That Trump is a famously prolific and unfiltered user of Twitter — boasting more than 87 million followers — makes things even more complicated for the platform.

The Post’s story purported to expose corrupt dealings by Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine.

The newspaper claimed that the former vice-president, who was in charge of US policy toward Ukraine, took actions to help his son, who in 2014-2017 sat on the board of controversial Ukraine energy company Burisma.

But the outlet’s source for the information raised questions.

It cited records on a drive allegedly copied from a computer said to have been abandoned by Hunter Biden, that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave to the Post.

The report also made claims about Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine which were contrary to the record.

Wary of “fake news” campaigns, both Facebook and Twitter said they took action out of caution over the article and its sourcing.

The Biden campaign rejected the assertions of corruption in the report, but has not denied the veracity of the underlying materials, mostly emails between Hunter Biden and business partners.

 

 

-AFP

Organisers Cancel Second Trump-Biden Debate

FILES) US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden exchange arguments during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.  Jim WATSON / AFP

 

The Commission on Presidential Debates said Friday it has cancelled next week’s showdown between Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden, after the president said he would not participate in a virtual format.

“Each (candidate) now has announced alternate plans for that date,” the commission said in a statement, adding “it is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15.”

The move leaves just one more debate on the schedule — October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee — before the November 3 election.

Debates have been a feature of every US presidential election since 1976, with three debates near the end of a campaign the standard since 2000.

The commission had announced Thursday it was converting the October 15 town hall debate to a virtual affair out of an abundance of caution because Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But the president, who has been eager to return to the campaign trail and hold live events, refused to participate in the virtual format and sought unsuccessfully to return it to an in-person debate.

Biden had said earlier this week he would not debate Trump in person if he still had the virus, and his campaign called Trump’s refusal to adapt to a virtual format “shameful.”

“It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Trump “doesn’t have the guts to answer for his record to voters at the same time as vice president Biden.”

The US president meanwhile plans to hold his first live event at the White House since being diagnosed with Covid-19.

All attendees will be told to wear masks they must bring, and will have to submit to a Covid-19 screening (Saturday) morning. This will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire, according to a source familiar with the preparations.

AFP

Taylor Swift Endorses Joe Biden For President

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 12, 2019, US singer/songwriter Taylor Swift arrives for Billboard’s 2019 Woman of the Year at the Holllywood Palladium in Los Angeles. – Swift delighted fans by announcing on social media that she would release a surprise new album at midnight on July 23, 2020. Swift tweeted that “Folklore,” her eighth studio album, would comprise 16 songs that “I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into.” (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

Pop superstar Taylor Swift on Wednesday threw her support behind Joe Biden for president, telling her 200 million-plus social media orbit that the veteran Democrat will start a “healing process” in America.

The singer-songwriter has lashed out before at President Donald Trump, including in August when she blasted his “ineffective leadership” against the coronavirus pandemic and his efforts to “subvert and destroy” US voting rights.

But her remarks in a magazine article that she posted on Instagram and Twitter was her first formal declaration of support for Biden.

“Everyone deserves a government that takes global health risks seriously and puts the lives of its people first,” Swift — who dropped two number one albums, “Lover” and “Folklore,” over an 11-month period from 2019 to 2020 — said in V Magazine’s “Thought Leaders” issue.

“I will proudly vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in this year’s presidential election,” she added. “Under their leadership, I believe America has a chance to start the healing process it so desperately needs.”

 

WILMINGTON, DE – SEPTEMBER 16: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he leaves the Hotel Dupont after having internal campaign meetings on September 16, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Earlier in the day, Biden participated in a briefing with medical professionals about the coronavirus vaccine. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

The 30-year-old artist quickly received shout outs from Biden and his running mate Harris.

“Taylor — Thanks for your support and for speaking out at this crucial moment in our nation’s history,” Biden tweeted.

Swift made waves in 2018 when she endorsed Democratic candidates in her home state of Tennessee and said the voting record of the Republican US Senate candidate, Marsha Blackburn, “appalls and terrifies me.”

“I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love,” Swift said at the time.

 

 

-AFP

Trump Back In Oval Office, Six Days After Positive Coronavirus Test

A US Marine stands guard outside the West Wing, indicating that US President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office, at the White House in Washington, DC, October 7, 2020. – President Donald Trump has been free of Covid-19 symptoms for 24 hours and has not had a fever in four days, his doctor said October 7, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

US President Donald Trump returned to work in the Oval Office Wednesday, six days after testing COVID-19 positive, the White House said.

Trump spokesman Brian Morgenstern said the president was being briefed on economic stimulus negotiations and the progress of Hurricane Delta towards the US Gulf Coast.

The behavior of the president — who was hospitalized on Friday with Covid-19 and discharged on Monday — is under scrutiny as the number of positive cases continues to rise among people working at the White House.

His exit from the hospital, like much of his handling of the pandemic that has killed over 210,000 people in the US, sparked controversy.

Just after stepping off a helicopter at the White House, he climbed the stairs of his residence and pulled off his face mask.

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” he urged Americans in his homecoming speech, referring to the virus.

By Wednesday, his doctors reported the president had been free of COVID-19 symptoms for 24 hours and has not had a fever in four days.

“The president this morning says ‘I feel great,'” doctor Sean Conley said in a brief update.

Trump has vowed to return to campaigning shortly and to participate in the second presidential debate against opponent Joe Biden in Miami on October 15.

The president is confronted by dire polling numbers ahead of the November 3 election, which comes as the economy struggles to recover from COVID shutdowns that have left countless families and businesses struggling.

 

-AFP

Biden Calls For Unity Against ‘Forces Of Darkness’ Destroying America

emocratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Health officials say 11,000 people have been tested for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

White House hopeful Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that “the forces of darkness” are dividing Americans, saying that as president he would strive to “end the hate and fear” consuming the nation.

In a speech at an outdoor site overlooking the hallowed Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, the Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in November’s election condemned the rise of white nationalism and said the country needed to unite.

“The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down and holding us back,” Biden said in a speech near where president Abraham Lincoln delivered his inspirational Gettysburg Address during a cemetery dedication here in 1863.

“We cannot and will not allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and (abolitionists) Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, to overturn the America that has been a haven and a home for everyone no matter their background,” Biden added.

The 77-year-old former vice president who leads in polling four weeks from election day did not mention Trump’s name, but his remarks served as a clear rebuke of a Republican president whose relentless rhetoric has raised tensions nationwide.

The Democrat’s speech, attended by a small contingent of Biden supporters abiding by social distancing rules, notably came one week after Trump, who has branded himself a “law and order” president, failed to directly condemn white nationalism during their contentious debate in Cleveland.

“I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America. We can have both,” Biden said.

But he stressed that “as president… I will send a clear unequivocal message to the entire nation: There is no place for hate in America. It will be given no license, it will be given no oxygen, it will be given no safe harbour.”

His speech was intended to serve as a call for unity after months of bitter divisions, but he also said he was “concerned” about what he sees today.

“The country is in a dangerous place, our trust in each other is ebbing, hope seems elusive,” and politics is no longer a forum for mediating differences but a battleground for “total, unrelenting partisan warfare,” he said.

The veteran Democrat repeatedly invoked the language of Lincoln in his speech, saying “there’s no more fitting place than here today, in Gettysburg, to talk about the cost of division.”

“Today once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be,” Biden said.

-AFP

Trump ‘Looking Forward’ To Next Presidential Debate

US President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19, in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP).

 

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants the next debate against his Democratic challenger Joe Biden to go ahead despite his bout of coronavirus.

“I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!” Trump tweeted.

The debate, which will be in a town hall format with audience members putting questions to the candidates, has been thrown into doubt after Trump’s hospitalization last Friday with the coronavirus.

He was discharged Monday and declared himself on Tuesday via Twitter to be “FEELING GREAT!”

If Trump’s health does hold up and the debate goes ahead it will mark one of the last set piece events before the November 3 election where Trump has a chance to try and turn around his seeming slide to defeat.

Polls consistently show him behind Biden and their first debate on September 29, which immediately descended into an ugly shouting match, shows no sign of having improved Trump’s standing with voters.

A third and final debate is scheduled for October 22 in Nashville.

On Wednesday, Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence hold their sole debate in Utah.

Pence has tested negative for coronavirus, but given Trump’s illness and a widespread outbreak in the White House, they will be separated by a plexiglass barrier.

AFP

Biden Urges Pressure On Turkey Over Greece Tensions

emocratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Health officials say 11,000 people have been tested for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP.

 

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden called Tuesday for US pressure on Turkey to reduce tensions with Greece, after his previous criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan caused a stir.

The former vice president, who leads President Donald Trump in polls ahead of the November 3 election, applauded efforts by Greece and Turkey to ease friction through talks.

“The Trump administration must press Turkey to refrain from any further provocative actions in the region against Greece, including threats of force, to create the space for diplomacy to succeed,” Biden said in a statement.

Tensions soared between the NATO allies after Turkey in August sent a vessel backed by military frigates to hunt for oil and gas reserves in waters claimed by Greece, which responded with naval exercises.

Turkey recently condemned Biden after he called Erdogan an “autocrat,” saying in a New York Times interview that the United States should “embolden” rivals to defeat him, although “not by a coup.”

Trump has developed a warm relationship with Erdogan, who has been Turkey’s pre-eminent leader since 2003, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week also showed support for Greece on a visit.

In his latest statement, Biden also called on Erdogan to reverse his decision to convert Istanbul’s Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, saying the former cathedral should remain a museum with “equal access for all, including the Orthodox faithful.”

The State Department voiced disappointment after Turkey made the change in July, although the US ambassador visited Hagia Sophia soon afterward.

AFP

Biden Tests Negative For COVID-19, Continues Campaign

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden waves before traveling to Grand Rapids, Michigan, at New Castle County Airport October 2, 2020 in New Castle, Delaware.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden waves before traveling to Grand Rapids, Michigan, at New Castle County Airport October 2, 2020 in New Castle, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Friday he has tested negative for Covid-19, three days after his debate with Donald Trump, who has contracted the illness.

The 77-year-old former vice president opted to maintain a scheduled trip to Michigan, a key battleground state in his campaign to unseat the Republican incumbent.

Biden is currently leading Trump in opinion polls ahead of the November 3 election.

“I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for Covid,” Biden said. “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”

Minutes before, his doctor Kevin O’Connor issued a statement via Biden’s campaign about the negative result.

“Vice President Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for Covid-19 today and Covid-19 was not detected,” O’Connor said.

Trump’s positive diagnosis — announced in the early hours of Friday after one of his senior aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive — has jolted the race for the White House with a month to go.

In Michigan, a Midwestern state Trump won in 2016 when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, Biden was to visit Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, to talk about his economic revitalization plans.

Earlier, he wished his 74-year-old adversary and his wife Melania a swift recovery from Covid-19.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden tweeted.

“We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris put out a similar tweet, saying she and her husband Doug are “keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.”

Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative, his spokesman said Friday.

Biden and Trump met on the debate stage in Ohio on Tuesday.

Everyone in attendance had tested negative before the debate. Trump’s family arrived in masks, but later removed them, moderator Chris Wallace said.

It can take several days for a person infected with Covid-19 to test positive.

 

AFP

Biden Wishes Trump, Melania ‘Swift Recovery’ From COVID-19

(From L) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and wife of former US Vice President Joe Biden Jill Biden gesture after the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday wished President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania a swift recovery from COVID-19.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden said as America and the world digested the bombshell news overnight that Trump has contracted the coronavirus.

 

This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020.
JIM WATSON, SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

“We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” Biden said on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear whether the former vice president had been tested since appearing at Tuesday’s presidential debate with Trump or whether he was taking any additional safety protocols. Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate but stood without masks about 10 feet apart for the 90-minute event.

The 14-year-old son of President Trump and Melania tested negative for the coronavirus after both his parents tested positive.

“Barron has tested negative and all precautions are being taken to ensure he’s kept safe and healthy,” Melania Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

 

 

 

-AFP

Biden Blasts Trump As ‘Embarrassment’ Over Racist Group Row

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photos by SAUL LOEB and JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

Democrat Joe Biden branded election rival Donald Trump a “national embarrassment” on Wednesday for failing to explicitly denounce white supremacist groups, as the president moved to quell the storm sparked by his remarks on the debate stage.

The bitter adversaries returned to the campaign trail one day after their off-the-rails showdown in Cleveland made headlines less for the substance than for its unrestrained chaos.

The toxic shout fest — with Trump constantly interrupting and Biden launching personal attacks — even prompted the overseeing Commission on Presidential Debates to announce it would be imposing new measures to help moderators “maintain order” at the upcoming two debates.

After his assertive performance, Biden launched a whistlestop train tour Wednesday through battleground states Ohio and Pennsylvania where he renewed his criticism of Trump.

“The president of the United States conducted himself the way he did — I think it was a national embarrassment,” Biden said in Alliance, Ohio.

 

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020, shows US President Donald Trump during the first presidential debate with Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photos by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

He fiercely attacked Trump’s failure to make a clear and forceful denunciation of white supremacist groups or the far-right Proud Boys, instead giving a shout-out to the male-only militia group by saying they should “stand back and stand by,” and that the real problem is “far-left” extremists.

“My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is: cease and desist,” Biden said. “That’s not who we are. This is not who we are as Americans.”

Trump, in an apparent attempt to tamp down outrage over his comments, called on the group to “stand down”.

“I don’t know who Proud Boys are but whoever they are they have to stand down,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” he said. “Whoever they are, stand down.”

Trump ‘misspoke’

Biden also knocked Trump for failing to speak directly to the US public about their plight during the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed more than 206,000 Americans.

“Does your president have any idea or understand what you’re going through? Biden asked. “Or does he just ignore you, look down on you, lie to you?”

After the president failed to explicitly condemn white supremacists, Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, said Wednesday that he believes Trump “needs to correct” his comments.

“White supremacy should be denounced at every turn. I think the president misspoke, and he needs to correct it,” Scott told reporters.

“If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak,” Scott added.

 

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate opposite US President Donald Trump at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photos by JIM WATSON / AFP)

Trump spent much of the debate time interrupting Biden, accusing him of being controlled by the “radical left” and trying to get under his skin with comments about his son Hunter’s past business affairs.

The former vice president mostly kept his composure and went toe-to-toe with Trump for the full 90 minutes, attacking his handling of the pandemic, race relations and the economy.

Tuesday’s showdown in Cleveland allowed Biden, 77, to rebuff Republican claims that he doesn’t have the stamina for the White House job.

Trump earlier had insinuated that Biden is too old for the job and his mental faculties have been diminished by age.

An exasperated Biden variously described Trump as a “clown,” a “liar” and “Putin’s puppy” while telling him at one point to “shut up, man.”

Snap polls on the debate performances of the presidential candidates leaned towards Biden, who withstood a barrage of barbs from the 74-year-old Trump while delivering some of his own.

A CBS sampling of 1,039 likely voters who watched the televised debate had Biden edging Trump by 48 percent to 41 percent — a margin similar to that of national polls heading into the November 3 election.

‘Meltdown’

While Biden’s camp was praising their candidate’s performance Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Fox News host Chris Wallace, the moderator, claiming he had joined forces with Biden and ganged up on him.

Biden responded with a tweet depicting Trump as a crying baby.

The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Trump’s debate behavior demonstrated why she had recommended that Biden not debate him at all.

“You saw a political nervous breakdown, a meltdown,” Pelosi said on MSNBC.

Trump “has never respected the dignity of his office and he demonstrated that last night.”

The Cleveland debate was scheduled to be the first of three before the election but the acrimonious debacle led to calls by some commentators for the two others to be cancelled.

In an interview with CNN, Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris suggested it was unlikely that the Democratic nominee would bow out of the next debates.

“Joe Biden’s never going to refuse to talk to the American people,” Harris said.

Trump was to attend a fundraiser Wednesday and address an outdoor campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, a Midwestern state narrowly won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The next debate is scheduled for October 15 in Miami.

 

 

 

-AFP