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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1:36 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Republicans Santorum and Jennings: Trump performed poorly at debate

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Republicans Rick Santorum and Scott Jennings agreed that President Trump's antics took the conversation away from core GOP issues during tonight's debate and at times were offensive.

"If I was a Republican elected official, if I was someone running for office right now, I'd be pretty mad at him... He indulged himself," Santorum said.

Santorum added, that while he believes that Trump has a winning message and policy, and had an overall edge over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during the debate, Trump's behavior overshadowed that.

"We can't win with a center-right campaign if we have someone who is as caustic as what the President is in this debate... Donald Trump's personality ran wild tonight," he said.

Jennings told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Trump's strategy of being on the offense turned into "just being offensive."

Jennings also slammed the President for not condemning white supremacists.

"He's going to have to speak for himself on this. He's going to have to clean this up. He has to clear it up. It's the wrong answer. It's always been the wrong answer. There is a clear right answer to these questions which is, 'Anyone that is committing violence, left, right, white, black, up, down, if you're in a city and you're committing violence and you're doing it in the name of white supremacy... you're all the same, you're hurting America. So, go home and stop it.' It's always been the right answer. It's always been that clear and the fact that he can't look into the camera and say it is a problem," Jennings said.

12:08 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Fact check: Biden claims US trade deficits with China and Mexico increased under Trump

From CNN's Katie Lobosco

Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the United States currently has a higher trade deficit with both China and Mexico than it has had before.  

12:04 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Biden campaign expresses intent to participate in final two debates despite chaos

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

The Biden campaign broke its single hour fundraising record during the debate, raising $3.8 million between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., the campaign’s Kate Bedingfield announced on a post-debate press call. 

Asked if they still believe it is worth debating President Trump given the chaos of tonight’s debate, the campaign expressed its intent for Biden to continue participating. 

“We are going to the debates, yes,” Bedingfield said, committing to the final two presidential debates. 

“Joe Biden's gonna show up,” said Bedingfield. “He's gonna continue speaking directly to the American people. The next debate is a town hall format where real voters are going to have the chance to engage the candidate. Biden obviously relishes any opportunity to talk directly to real voters, that’s something that he prioritizes doing on the campaign trail.” 

She said that there will be “ongoing discussions with the commission" about "formats and rules," adding, "we think the opportunity for Biden's address the American people directly as is powerful." She did didn't provide any changes they are considering following tonight's debate. 

Bedingfield argued that the debate did Trump a “disservice” and casted him as “weak.” She said she thinks the President came across as “somebody who believes that he is losing this race. I think that was readily apparent written all over his face.” 

Asked if they'd had a chance to ask Biden how he felt and if he had expressed regret about any of the lines he threw at the President, Bedingfield replied, "He expressed regret that the President of the United States chooses to conduct himself this way on the national stage and on the international stage."   

12:02 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Here's what undecided voters thought of tonight

This is what undecided voters said about tonight's first presidential debate:

11:58 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

CNN Poll: 6 in 10 say Biden won the debate

From CNN's Jennifer Agiesta

Six in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in tonight’s debate, just 28% say President Donald Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS. 

In interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would. 

The post-debate result is about the same as the outcome of a post-debate poll in 2016 after the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. In that poll, 62% thought Clinton won the debate, 27% said Trump did. 

About two-thirds said Biden’s answers were more truthful than Trump’s (65% Biden to 29% Trump), and his attacks on the President were more frequently seen as fair. Overall, 69% called Biden’s attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump’s attacks were fair. 

The survey is designed to be representative of those registered voters who watched tonight’s debate; it does not represent the views of all Americans. The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole, 35% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.

The CNN post-debate poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone and includes interviews with 568 registered voters who watched the Sept. 29 debate. Results among debate-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 6.3 percentage points. Respondents were originally interviewed September 22-27 either by telephone or online, and indicated they planned to watch the debate and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over. Respondents initially reached online are members of the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative probability-based panel.

11:53 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Kamala Harris: Trump is "dog whistling through a bull horn" 

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, greets diners at Trophy Brewing and Pizza during a campaign visit in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Monday, September 28.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, greets diners at Trophy Brewing and Pizza during a campaign visit in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Monday, September 28. Gerry Broome/AP

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris blasted President Trump for not condemning white supremacists during tonight's debate.

"Dog whistling through a bull horn is what he's doing," Harris told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Harris went on to say that the President has created policies that would end training against racial bias and contrasted the stark difference between Biden and Trump.

"On the one hand, Donald Trump continuously, throughout his campaign for president, throughout his presidency, spending full-time trying to sow hate and division, trying to get the American people to turn on each other.
On the other hand, a Joe Biden who speaks with a calm voice, respecting the dignity of all people, recognizing the kind of division that has taken place in our country because of Donald Trump and there with a genuine, genuine goal of unifying our country once, God-willing, he wins this election," the California senator said.

1:20 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Fact Check: Biden claims eliminating Affordable Care Act would take away health insurance for 20 million people

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump. Morry Gash/Pool/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden turned a question about the Supreme Court into a defense of the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted while he was in office. 

“He’s in the Supreme Court right now, trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which will strip 20 million people from having insurance,” Biden said of President Trump’s support of a case coming up before the justices that could overturn the landmark health reform law. 

Correction: An earlier version of this graphic incorrectly stated that Biden’s claim was misleading. The claim is true. Health care experts say this figure is roughly accurate. It is an estimate from the Obama administration as to how many people gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.


11:57 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Kamala Harris: Biden will debate again

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris batted down speculation that Joe Biden might decline to participate in future presidential debates, after President Trump derailed tonight's exchange with insults and interruptions.

"Joe Biden is never going to refuse to talk to the American people and have any opportunity that he can to talk directly to American families and speak about the issues, and speak the truth and address the facts of where we are now," she told CNN's Jake Tapper, when he asked if Biden would debate again. 

Currently, Trump and Biden are slated to face off twice more before the election, once in Miami and once in Nashville.

When pressed by Tapper, Harris said she believed Americans benefited from the contrast clearly visible in the candidates' behavior on stage.

"Joe was trying to have a mature conversation," she said.

Harris continued: "Then on the other hand you had a Donald Trump who spent full time interrupting, bullying the moderator and lying to the American people."

"I do believe that the American people benefited from a clear contrast of what they've got right now but also what they they could get and what is possible," she added.

Watch the interview:

2:02 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Fact check: Trump claimed “military people” died because of Biden's Senate record on healthcare

From CNN's Curt Devine

During a discussion on health care and insurance, President Trump claimed 308,000 “military people” died because Biden “couldn’t provide them proper health care.”