First 2020 presidential debate

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Kyle Blaine and Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 9:24 AM ET, Wed September 30, 2020
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10:03 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Trump again mocks Biden for wearing a mask

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

President Donald Trump holds a face mask as he speaks during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump holds a face mask as he speaks during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

More than 200,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 and President Trump is still casting doubt about the effectiveness of wearing a mask – and mocking Democratic nominee Joe Biden for doing so himself.

“I don't wear a mask like (Biden), every time you see him, he's got a mask,” Trump said. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from it, and he shows up with the biggest mask I've seen.”

Biden, when asked about the use of masks, again referenced the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director’s beseeching of Americans to put them on – and reiterated how many lives could be saved in the coming months if people took his advice.

Trump jumped in to argue to that health officials have said “the opposite” – a false claim that he’s repeated when questioned on the matter.

“No serious person has said the opposite,” Biden shot back.

Trump again interrupted to say that Dr. Anthony Fauci had said precisely that, before noting, almost in passing, that Fauci had changed his position from the very early days of the pandemic.

Watch exchange:

9:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Trump on a coronavirus vaccine: "It is a very political thing"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio.
President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio. Patrick Semansky/AP

When the notion of politicizing a coronavirus vaccine arose, President Trump made no attempt to tamp down the notion he’s rushing companies to develop one before November’s election.

“I disagree with both of them,” Trump said when questioned about statements made by health experts in his administration — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — suggesting it might be next year before a vaccine is widely available.

Trump said he’s talking to drugmakers himself about developing a vaccine and said they can “go faster than that by a lot” — even though the major drugmakers have all pledged to not make a vaccine available until it meets all safety and efficacy standards.

And he fully embraced the idea that developing a vaccine would be influenced by politics.

“It is a very political thing,” he said.

It was an example of Trump making little attempt to rebut the very thing he was being accused of — making a vaccine a central element of his presidential campaign.

Watch the moment here:

9:52 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Here's who has talked the most so far

After the first half hour of a contentious debate, former vice president Joe Biden is leading slightly in speaking time with more than 13 minutes.

9:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Biden to the American people: "Do you believe for a moment" what Trump has said on coronavirus?

From CNN's Dan Merica

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Tuesday at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Tuesday at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. Julio Cortez/AP

Joe Biden turned directly to the camera tonight and asked the American people whether they trust President Trump about coronavirus, noting that the President told journalist Bob Woodward in February that he downplayed the virus.

“Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you, in light of all the lies, he’s told you about the whole issue relating to Covid,” Biden said, looking straight into the camera. “He still hasn’t even acknowledged that he knew this was happening, knew how dangerous it was going to be back in February, and he didn’t even tell you.”

Biden continued: “He’s on record as saying it. He panicked or he just looked at the stock market, one of the two, because guess what, a lot of people die and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker.”

Trump took issue with the former vice president questioning his intelligence, attacking Biden for graduating from University of Delaware and said he “graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class.”

“Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” Trump said.

The moment highlighted a key difference in the election: Biden has made the virus the most pressing issue of his campaign, while Trump has tried to downplay it on the campaign trail.

Watch the moment:

9:43 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Wallace to Trump: "You're debating him, not me"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.
President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump got into a tense exchange with moderator Chris Wallace at the top of tonight's debate as Wallace attempted to ask the President about his health care plan.

Wallace: If I may ask my question sir. Over the last four years you have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, but you have never, in these four years come up with a plan, a comprehensive plan, to replace Obamacare...
Trump: Yes, I have.
Wallace: To replace Obamacare...
Trump: Of course I have. I got rid of the individual mandate.
Wallace: When I finish, I'll give you an opportunity to...
Trump: Excuse me, I got rid of the individual mandate...
Wallace: That is not a comprehensive plan...
Trump: It's absolutely a big thing...
Wallace: You're debating him, not me. Let me ask my question.

Finally, after a few more interruptions, Wallace was able to ask his question: "What is the Trump health care plan?"

To which Trump responded, "Well first of all, I guess I'm debating you, not him, but that's okay I'm not surprised."

Hear the exchange:

9:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Only 20 minutes into the debate, and it's chaos

From CNN's Eric Bradner

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The debate devolved into chaos in the first 20 minutes, as President Trump repeatedly talked over former Vice President Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Trump persistently interrupted nearly every Biden answer on the Supreme Court and the candidates' health care plans, as well as Biden's rebuttals to Trump.

The interruptions turned the early portions into a free-for-all in which there was little room to explore policy differences.

Exasperated, about 18 minutes in, Biden turned to Trump and said, "Will you shut up, man?"

Trump ignored Biden and continued talking over Wallace. "Keep yapping, man," Biden said."

"The people understand, Joe. For 47 years, you've done nothing," Trump shot back.

See the exchange:

9:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Biden refutes Trump's socialism charge

From CNN's Dan Merica

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden take part in the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden take part in the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Biden moved quickly to rebut the charge of socialism on Tuesday night, responding to an attack from President Trump by saying he defeated people who were closer to socialism during the primary.

“Your party wants to go socialist medicine,” Trump said to Biden.

“The party is me, right now,” Biden retorted. ���I am the Democratic Party.”

Trump, during the opening segment of the debate, accused Biden of wanting to end private insurance. Biden said that was “simply” not true.

“What I proposed is that we expand Obamacare, and we increase it,” Biden sad.

“One of the big debates we had with 23 of my colleagues trying to win the nomination that I won, were saying that Biden wanted to allow people to have private insurance still. They can, they do. They will under my proposal.”

When Biden said that the Democratic platform is what he says it is, Trump responded, “Not according to Harris,” a reference to the Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Watch the exchange:

9:30 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Biden: Barrett a "fine person," but she would vote to end Obamacare

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29.
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden almost immediately pivoted to the fate of Obamacare when asked about President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and Republicans’ intentions to confirm her before or shortly after Election Day.

After briefly making the case for waiting until after the election is over and giving Americans “a right to have say” in the process, Biden set the stakes as he sees them: “The president has made it clear he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said. “He's been running on that, he ran on that, and he's been governing on that.”

Adding Barrett to the Supreme Court, he added, was his way of delivering on that promise.

Biden was careful to make the distinction between his opposition to potential policy implications of Barrett’s confirmation and his view of her as a jurist and person, saying “she seems like a very fine person.”

But he harkened back there to her writings from before being nominated.

“She thinks the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional,” Biden said, before moving along to what the ACA’s striking down would mean for women’s health care, reminding viewers that popular protections built into the law — like for those with pre-existing conditions — would go out the window. 

See the moment:

9:08 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Trump and Biden face off for the first time

From CNN's Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden begin the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, in Cleveland, Ohio.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden begin the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, in Cleveland, Ohio. Source: Pool

The first 2020 presidential debate has started. The candidates will not have opening statements, and President Trump will receive the first question from the moderator.

Each segment will last about 15 minutes, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond after the moderator, "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, opens each segment with a question. Wallace will then use the rest of the time in the segment to facilitate further discussion on the topic, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

About the presidential race: Trump heads into the night trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls and on defense about his handling of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and led some 30 million people to file unemployment claims.

Trump must deliver a performance that will dramatically alter the race at a time when voters are looking for him to explain the stunning new reporting from The New York Times that he paid no federal income taxes in 10 out of 15 years starting in 2000.