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first presidential debate

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President Donald Trump and Joe Biden have fiercely clashed in the first of the three White House debates.

The Republican president frequently interrupted, prompting the Democratic candidate to tell him to “shut up” as the two fought over the pandemic, healthcare and the economy.

Donald Trump was challenged over white supremacist support and refused to condemn a specific far-right group.

Opinion polls suggest Joe Biden has a steady single-digit lead over President Trump.

However, with 35 days until Election Day, surveys from several important states show a closer contest.

Polls also suggest one in ten Americans have yet to make up their mind how to vote. But analysts said the September 29 debate – the first of three – probably would not make much difference.

Overall, the 90-minute debate in Cleveland, Ohio, was light on serious policy discussion. Both candidates talked over each other but President Trump cut in some 73 times, according to a count by CBS News.

The tenor became clear early on as the two candidates sparred over healthcare. Hectoring from Donald Trump saw Joe Biden call the president a “clown”.

As they moved on to the Supreme Court, the rancor continued, with Joe Biden refusing to answer when asked if he would try to expand the number of judges.

“Will you shut up, man?” Joe Biden snapped at President Trump, later adding: “Keep yapping, man.”

President Trump responded: “The people understand, Joe. Forty-seven years [in politics], you’ve done nothing. They understand.”

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In one of the most talked about exchanges of the night, Donald Trump was asked by the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, if he was prepared to condemn white supremacists.

President Trump initially said he would but when asked to denounce the far-right Proud Boys group by name, he sidestepped.

He said: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

The Proud Boys, an anti-immigrant, all-male group, took to social media to celebrate.

“Standing down and standing by sir,” it posted on Telegram.

Antifa, short for “anti-fascist”, is a loose affiliation of far-left activists that often clash with the far right at street protests.

Joe Biden said Donald Trump had “panicked” over the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

“A lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker,” he said.

President Trump objected to Joe Biden using the word “smart”.

“You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class,” he said.

“Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word.”

Local rules required everyone in the room to wear masks but of the president’s family members present, only First Lady Melania Trump donned a face covering during the debate.

Due to the pandemic, the forum at Case Western Reserve University had a small, socially distanced audience and the traditional opening handshake was skipped.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has criticized Lester Holt, the moderator in the first presidential debate, for being tougher on him than on Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump also complained about his microphone crackling and being at a lower level than Hillary Clinton’s.

The two candidates clashed over jobs, temperament and tax in a debate watched by up to 100 million viewers.

Opinion polls give Hillary Clinton a slight edge, with a majority of voters declaring her the winner of the debate.

Although Donald Trump told reporters immediately after the debate that Lester Holt had done a good job, he accused him of a left-leaning performance the next morning.

“He didn’t ask her about the emails, he didn’t ask her about the scandals, he didn’t ask her about the Benghazi deal. He didn’t ask her about a lot of things he should have asked her about. Why? I don’t know,” he said, speaking to Fox and Friends.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump said Lester Holt had been much tougher on him: “You look at it, you watch the last four questions, he hit me on birther [Donald Trump’s past allegation that President Barack Obama was not born in the US], he hit me on a housing deal from many years ago, that I settled on with no recourse and no guilt… that’s a beauty to be asked, a 40-year-old lawsuit.”

The Republican also said his microphone was “terrible” and crackled, and that his volume was lower than Hillary Clinton’s microphone. He blamed it for what some listeners thought were sniffles by Donald Trump during the debate.

Asked to rate Hillary Clinton’s performance, Donald Trump said he would give her a C-plus, but he declined to grade himself.

“I think I really did well when they asked normal questions,” he said, but added he naturally struggled when asked “unanswerable” ones.

On what he might do differently: “I may hit her harder in certain ways. You know, I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. So I may hit her harder in certain ways.”

Hours before the debate, polls suggested the candidates were locked in a dead heat, adding to the tension between the rivals on stage throughout the debate.

“I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened,” Hillary Clinton quipped when prompted to respond to one of Donald Trump’s attacks.

“Why not?” Donald Trump interrupted.

“Yeah, why not,” Hillary Clinton answered.

“You know, just join the debate by saying more crazy things.”

Donald Trump was later thrown on the defensive by Lester Holt for not disclosing his tax returns.

He claimed he was under a “routine audit”.

However, Donald Trump promised he would release them if Hillary Clinton released 33,000 emails that were deleted during an investigation into her private email set-up while secretary of state.

A CNN/ORC poll taken after the first presidential debate found that 62% of voters who had watched the head-to-head thought that Hillary Clinton came out on top, with just 27% giving it to Donald Trump.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

This is based on interviews with 521 registered voters chosen as part of a random national sample. However, only 26% identified themselves as Republicans while 41% identified themselves as Democrats.

An informal CNBC poll on its website found that 61% of people thought that Donald Trump won while 39% went for Hillary Clinton, but as CNBC itself points out, the poll is not scientific – anyone, including people outside the United States, appears to be able to vote.

A post-debate survey by Public Policy Polling of 1,002 debate-watchers found that 51% of national voters thought Hillary Clinton had won, with 40% choosing Donald Trump and 9% undecided.

Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate in Denver by a whopping 52-point margin according to Gallup.

The result is the most resounding margin since the polling giant began tracking debates 20 years ago.

In results published today, three times more people thought Mitt Romney did a better job than Barack Obama in last week’s so-called Duel in Denver presidential debate, according to the polling giants.

The poll about the Wednesday night’s debate in Denver, watched by 67 million people, was conducted on Thursday and Friday. Of those who watched, 72% thought Mitt Romney did a better job compared to 20% for Barack Obama.

Even among Democrats, 49% thought Mitt Romney was the winner with only 39% of Barack Obama’s own party stating that he was victorious.

The previous largest margin was 42 points for Bill Clinton over President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 town hall debate in which Bush famously looked at his watch and Clinton proved masterful in expressing empathy for ordinary voters.

At the same time, Gallup detected a five-point national poll swing from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, putting the two candidates on level pegging at 47 percentage points each over the three days after the debate and halting the movements towards Obama since the Democratic convention.

Meanwhile, the respected Pew Research Center reported the most dramatic shift in a national poll during the entire general election campaign, with Mitt Romney’s fortunes improving in almost every respect. The center reported also pulling even with Barack Obama on 46%.

His personal image has improved with favorable rating hitting 50% registered voters for the first time in a Pew survey and up five points since September. At the same, Barack Obama’s personal favorability has dropped six points to 49%.

Pew found that Mitt Romney made substantial gains over the past month among women, whites and those younger than 50. He even drew level among women, where Barack Obama has held a clear advantage for months and by 18 points a month ago.

The debate survey is a welcome turnaround for Mitt Romney from the Gallup poll taken after the Republican convention that found his speech was the worst received of all major party nominees stretching back to Bob Dole, the GOP candidate in 1996. Some 37% of people found Mitt Romney speech “Ok”, “poor” or “terrible”.

Pew registered a 46% margin of victory in the debate for Mitt Romney with 66% of registered voters saying he did the better job in Denver and 20% saying Obama prevailed.

Immediately after the debate, a snap CNN poll found that 67% believed Mitt Romney won compared to 25% who said Barack Obama was the victory. Another instant poll by CBS gave Mitt Romney 46%, 22% for Barack Obama and 32% a tie.


Mitt Romney was the clear winner of the first 2012 presidential debate held in Denver.

He had obviously practiced so hard and so long that he was nearly hoarse.

Mitt Romney looked Barack Obama in the eyes as he interrupted with animation, overriding the moderator, insisting on a comeback. He didn’t seem rude. He did seem in command and to be enjoying the scrap.

President Barack Obama on the other hand looked as though he’d much rather be out celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. He started out looking very nervous, swallowing hard, not the confident performer we are used to seeing.

Barack Obama warmed up and got into his stride but that meant he ended up giving overlong, mini-lectures straight to camera rather than engaging, arguing. He seemed unwilling to actually enter a debate with his opponent, and missed a few obvious openings when he could have attacked Mitt Romney.

Two-thirds of people who watched the first presidential debate think that Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the showdown, according to a nationwide poll conducted Wednesday night.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Mitt Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

More than six in ten said that president did worse than expected, with one in five saying that Obama performed better than expected. Compare that to the 82% who said that Mitt Romney performed better than expected. Only one in ten felt that the former Massachusetts governor performed worse than expected.

“This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate and by definition cannot be an indication of how the entire American public will react to Wednesday’s debate in the coming days,” cautions Keating Holland.

The sample of debate-watchers in the poll was 37% Democratic and 33% Republican.

“That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about four points more Democratic and about eight points more Republican than an average CNN poll of all Americans, for a small advantage for the Republicans in the sample of debate-watchers,” adds Keating Holland.

The poll suggests that the debate didn’t change opinions of the president. Forty-nine percent of debate watchers said before the debate that they had a favorable opinion of Barack Obama, and that number didn’t change following the debate.

It was pretty much a similar story for Mitt Romney, whose favorable rating among debate watchers edged up just two points, from 54% before the debate to 56% after the debate.

The economy dominated the first debate and according to the poll, and by a 55%-43% margin, debate watchers said that Mitt Romney rather than Barack Obama would better handle the economy. On the issue of taxes, which kicked off the debate, Mitt Romney had a 53%-44% edge over Barack Obama. And by a 52%-47% margin, debate watchers said Mitt Romney would better handle health care, and he had the edge on the budget deficit by a 57%-41% margin.

Debate watchers thought Mitt Romney was more aggressive. Fifty-three percent said Mitt Romney spent more time attacking his opponent. Only three in ten thought Barack Obama spent more time taking it to Mitt Romney. By a 58%-37% margin, debate watchers thought Mitt Romney appeared to be the stronger leader.

“Romney’s only Achilles heel may be the perception that he spent more time attacking his opponent than Obama, which may explain why two-thirds of debate-watchers said that Romney did the best job but only 46% said that he was more likeable than Obama,” says Keating Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 430 adult Americans who watched the debate questioned by telephone. All interviews were conducted after the end of the debate. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.5%.

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