First US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden: What they said

US President Trump (right) repeatedly interrupted or sought to talk over Democratic candidate Joe Biden during the debate. PHOTOS: AFP, EPA-EFE
President Trump (left) repeatedly interrupted or sought to talk over Democratic candidate Joe Biden during the debate. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former vice-president Joe Biden, met in Cleveland on Tuesday night (Sept 29) for the first of three debates ahead of the Nov 3 presidential election, when Mr Trump is seeking a second term in office.

The debate was moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

Here are some of the quotes making news at the debate:


Mr Trump, asked by moderator Chris Wallace about whether US appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett should be nominated to the Supreme Court before the election: "We won the (2016) election. Elections have consequences.

"We have the Senate and we have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all.
"... I think that she (Barrett) will be outstanding. She will be as good as anybody who has ever served on that court. We won the election and therefore we had the right to choose her."

Mr Biden said: "We should wait, we should wait and see what the outcome of this election is."

Mr Tump added: "As far as a say is concerned, the American people have already had their say. ... I'm not elected for (just) 3-1/2 years."

Responding, Mr Biden said: "He's elected until the next election. ... The election's already started."


Mr Biden: "You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap and... the golf course and go in the Oval Office and (put) together Democrats and Republicans, and fund what needs to be done now to save lives."

Mr Trump: "You didn't think we should have closed our country (to China) because you thought it was terrible.

"We've done a great job. But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we've done. You don't have it in your blood."

On Mr Biden's proposed approach to developing coronavirus vaccines, Mr Trump said: "People like this would rather make it political than save lives."

Mr Biden: "Guess what, a lot of people died, and a lot more going to die unless he gets a lot smarter a lot quicker."

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Mr Trump: "There's nothing smart about you, Joe."

On Mr Trump's mask policy, Mr Biden said: "He's a fool on this."

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Told by Mr Trump that he has adopted former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders' "socialised medicine" proposals, Mr Biden said: "Everybody here knows he's a liar... You picked the wrong guy on the wrong night at the wrong time.

"Folks, do you have any idea what this clown's doing? I tell you what, he is not for anybody needing healthcare."

After Mr Trump explained his health proposal, Mr Biden said: "He has no plan for healthcare... The fact is, this man has no idea what he's talking about."

At another point, while being interrupted by Mr Trump, Mr Biden said: "Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential... Keep yapping, man."

Wallace to Mr Trump: "I think the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I'm appealing to you, sir, to do that."

Referring to Mr Biden, Mr Trump said: "And him, too."

Wallace: "Well, frankly, you've been doing more interrupting."


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Mr Biden: "This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division."

Citing Mr Biden's support for the 1994 crime Bill, Mr Trump said: "You've treated the black community about as bad as anybody in this country."

Mr Biden: "Yes, there is a systemic injustice in this country in education and work and in law enforcement, and the way in which it is enforced."


Mr Trump: "The top 10 cities and just about the top 40 cities are run by Democrats in many cases, radical left, and they have got you wrapped around their finger, Joe, to a point where you don't want to say anything about law and order. And I'll tell you what the people of this country want and demand: law and order, and you're afraid to even say it."

Mr Biden said Mr Trump had done nothing to calm down the protests: "He just pours gasoline on the fire."

Responding to Mr Trump attacking him on the suburbs, Mr Biden said: "He wouldn't know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn. I know suburbs."

Mr Trump: "Name one law enforcement group that has come out and supported you. One. Think. We have time."

Mr Biden: "Under this President, we've become weaker, sicker, more divided and more violent."


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Mr Wallace: "Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence or the number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we've seen in Portland?"

Mr Trump: "I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right. ... I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace."

Mr Wallace: "Then do it, sir."

Mr Biden: "Do it, do it. Say it."

Mr Trump: "You want to call them. What do you want to call them? Give me a name."

Mr Biden, referring to a right-wing group: "Proud Boys."

Mr Trump: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."


Mr Trump: "I believe that we have to do everything we can to have immaculate air, immaculate water, and do whatever else we can that's good."

Mr Biden: "The first thing I will do, I will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord."


Mr Biden encouraged mail-in voting by saying Mr Trump does it, too. "He sits behind the Resolute Desk (in the White House) and sends his ballot to Florida."

Mr Biden: "He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of that election. ... If I win, that will be accepted. If I lose, that will be accepted. "If we get the votes, he's going to go. He can't stay in power."

Mr Trump: "Don't tell me about a free transition. This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen. This is not going to end well."

Mr Biden: "You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote. If you're able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you're able to vote in person, vote in person - whatever way is the best way for you. Because he cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election."

Asked by Mr Wallace if he would urge his supporters to stay calm and pledge not to declare victory until the election is certified, Mr Trump said: "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully."

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Mr Trump: "If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with it. They cheat."
Mr Biden: "The fact is I will accept it and he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted. That'll be the end of it."

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