CLEVELAND (NewsNation Now) — The first debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, wrapped up in Ohio Tuesday night.
The debate offered a platform for Trump and Biden to outline their different visions for a country facing multiple crises, including racial justice protests and a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.
The health emergency upended the usual trappings of a presidential campaign, lending heightened importance to the debate. The pandemic’s force was tangible as the candidates’ podiums were spaced far apart and the traditional opening handshake scrapped.
The debate was moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Wallace moderated a presidential debate in 2016, favoring direct questions to get the candidates talking. He said before the 2016 debate that he did not believe it is his job “to be a truth squad,” and he largely stayed away from interjecting to fact-check the candidates.
The format for Tuesday’s debate consisted of six 15-minute segments, scheduled to focus on the following topics, selected by Wallace:
- The Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
- Climate Change (this was not on the original list of segments)
Cleveland prepares for debate
While Cleveland Police, the lead agency when it comes to securing the site, isn’t saying much about its operation, NewsNation has been learning a lot from NewsNation affiliate WJW-TV about the violent protests this city went through in May.
The local law enforcement community is determined to avoid a repeat.
Law enforcement are expected to be on the ground, in the air, on bikes and in riot gear, with the Ohio National Guard backing them up.
Police and Secret Service have the area around the Cleveland Clinic locked down.
Adjustments to Tuesday night’s security plan include having county judges standing by in the case of mass arrests and ready to rule, if needed, on where and how people can protest.
Several groups are outside the convention, including at least two groups of Republicans in town to a oppose the president.
“He tries to look good, but he doesn’t really care about anybody,” said George Zadigian.
Backers of Biden and Trump said they’re frustrated with the state of play in our politics.
“They’re willing to destroy the country to get Trump,” said supporter Bob Kunst. “What is this madness?”
The vice presidential debate will follow from Salt Lake City on Oct. 7. The remaining presidential forums will be held on Oct. 15 in Miami and Oct. 22 in Nashville.
Several high-profile debates in past elections that were thought to be game-changing moments at the time ultimately had little lasting effect. But some debates have mattered: most famously, a turning point in the 1960 race was when John F. Kennedy was perceived — at least by TV viewers — as outdueling Richard Nixon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.