Biden vs. Trump: Lies, slip-ups and the question of who is longest

The first TV debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has taken place. There were no new insights into the politics of the duellists, but there were some notable moments.

“We’re fucking dead”: The mood in Joe Biden’s camp is devastating after the US president put in a miserable performance in the first of two televised debates with Donald Trump. Instead of proving to voters that he can easily handle what is probably the most challenging job in the world for another four years, the 81-year-old has confirmed all concerns about his physical and mental fitness. Biden stumbled several times, lost his train of thought and stared into space with his mouth open.

But Trump did not only cover himself in glory. The challenger seemed focused and agile and was relatively reserved, at least by his standards. This was probably also because he had been accused of being too aggressive after the first debate between the candidates in 2020. Instead, he threw around misleading claims and outright lies and repeatedly avoided direct questions or gave nonsensical answers.

Seven remarkable moments in the TV debate Biden vs. Trump:

  • A sentence that just won’t end

    During his appearance, Biden confuses billionaires with trillionaires and millions with billions, often looks at the ground instead of at the cameras and gets confused – as in this confusing long sentence:

    “We would be able to make sure that all the things that we need to do — childcare, eldercare, making sure that we continue to strengthen our health care system, making sure that we are able to provide every single person… with the right to… for what I’m dealing with with the…, the Covid… sorry, um, with dealing with… everything that we have to deal with…”

    The president pauses for a moment that is painful to watch. Then he looks up and says something incomprehensible about the health care system before CNN anchor Jake Tapper rescues him and says, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

  • A delicate slip of the tongue on a delicate topic

    Abortion is actually a winning issue for the Democrats, as the majority of US citizens, unlike the Republicans, are in favor of the right to abortion. But Biden is unable to score points here either, not least because of another bitter slip of the tongue. Abortions are necessary in some cases, says the President, and continues:

    “There are many young women who are raped by their in-laws, their spouses, brothers and sisters.”

  • 30 to 9 lies for the challenger

    There is no shortage of false claims in the debate, and Trump in particular is living up to his reputation. As expected, the former president insists that he is the real winner of the 2020 election. But that is, as we know, nonsense. Trump spreads a particularly infamous lie in the discussion about abortion rights: he falsely claims that some Democratic-governed states allow the killing of babies after birth. The Republican also distorts the facts on the subject of the economy, announcing that the USA currently has the largest budget deficit of all time and a record trade deficit with China. But they had both during his time in office.

    Biden is also not always very truthful. He gives false figures on unemployment and illegal border crossings and claims that Trump wants to abolish social security – which is not true.

    In the end, however, Trump is way ahead in the lying contest. According to a quick check by CNN, he spread 30 untruths in the debate compared to nine false claims made by Biden.

  • Trump makes a sensational statement

    What one has to do with the other will probably remain his secret, but when asked what measures he would take to combat the harmful effects of global warming, Trump replied that he wants clean water.

    “I want absolutely pristine, clean water. And I want absolutely clean air. And we had it! We had H2O. We had the best numbers ever. And we used all forms of energy, all forms, everything.”

    The US had water when Trump was in office. This statement is finally not a false claim.

  • Emotions are running high

    One of the most heated moments in the debate comes when Biden brings up an incident from 2018. At the time, Trump was president and missed a planned visit to the US military cemetery in Aisne-Marne near Paris during a trip to France. He reportedly told his staff that those buried there were “morons and losers.”

    Biden picks up on this and remembers his son Beau, who served in Iraq and later died of cancer. Beau was not a “moron and a failure”, but rather Trump was the “moron and a failure”. Trump then denies having made derogatory comments about US soldiers.

  • Who has the longest?

    When the moderators bring up the topic of age, Biden and Trump start bickering about who can play golf better. “I just won two club championships, not in the seniors, two regular club championships,” Trump boasts. “To do that, you have to be pretty smart and be able to hit the ball far, and I can do that.” Biden, on the other hand, can’t hit the ball 50 yards, the 78-year-old rants.

    The president counters the attack by claiming that Trump is cheating on his height and weight. Biden then announces that he would love to compete with his predecessor to see who has the longer tee shot. “When I was vice president, I lowered my handicap to 6,” Biden says. “And by the way,” he adds, while Trump laughs, “I’ve already told you that I’d love to play golf with you if you carry your own bag. Do you think you can do that?”

    Trump finally ends the exchange with the remark: “We should not behave like children!”

  • Either victory or fraud

    Once again, Trump does not want to commit himself to whether he will accept the outcome of the election in November. Instead, he says that he will accept the result “if it is a fair and legal and good election” – which probably means “if I win the election.”

Sources: “Mediate”, “Huffington Post”, “Variety”, Reuters, CNN, AFP, DPA