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The First Stand-Off of the 2020 Presidential Race

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

by Diana Gilday

(Image via ABC News)

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

That was the response of President Donald Trump when asked by moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacy during the first presidential debate. After dancing around the question, Wallace asked again and Trump asked who he should be addressing. Former Vice President Joe Biden said that he should address the Proud Boys.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what: Somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left," said the President.

The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, a Canadian-British right-wing activist. According to BBC News, “Their platform, such as it is, includes Trumpian ideas ("glorify the entrepreneur", "close the border") libertarianism ("give everyone a gun", "end welfare") and traditional gender roles ("venerate the housewife").”

After hearing the “call” from the President, the Proud Boys on social media blew up in a frenzy. According to the New York Times, on the social media app Telegram, a channel dedicated to the Proud Boys said that they saw the President's comments as an endorsement of their tactics. Another Proud Boys group on the app said that they were already seeing a spike in new recruits.

Image from Twitter of Proud Boy groups using the Presidents words as their new logo (Image via Daily Mail)

Trump calling for something to be done about ANTIFA and the left contradicts the FBI’s assessment of who is the biggest domestic threat to the country.

FBI director Christopher Wray said on Sept. 17, “Within the domestic terrorism bucket, the category as a whole, racially motivated violent extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group. And within the racially motivated violent extremist bucket, people subscribing to some kind of white supremacist-type ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that."

While race relations were a major topic at the debate, another was COVID-19 and how to help the nation recover.

Biden claimed that Trump has no plans in combatting the virus, while Trump was claiming that Biden’s plan was to force the nation to shut down again. According to the New York Times live fact check however, Biden has no plan of shutting down the nation again and will instead listen to scientists.

The conversation about COVID also led to discussing campaigning. Trump, since June 20, has been holding large rallies outdoors where there is little social distancing or mask wearing. Biden on the other hand has been doing smaller events for safety reasons, he claims. Trump on the other hand thinks that Biden isn’t holding large rallies for a different reason.

“People want to hear what I have to say,” said Trump. “We’ve had no negative effect and we’ve had 35, 40,000 people… if you (Biden) could get the crowds, you would do the same thing but you can’t.”

Another hot topic of the evening was the Supreme Court. With President Trump announcing his pick of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 25, the question was should he be allowed to have this pick.

Biden said that since the election is already in progress, the American people deserve a say in the Supreme Court, so the pick should happen after Nov. 3. Trump on the other hand, believes since he won the election in 2016, he has every right to put her on now.

The topic of the Supreme Court sparked Wallace to ask the former Vice President, if Barrett gets confirmed, will he support adding more justices and court packing. Biden refused to answer this question.

The integrity of the election was also called into question, with Trump repeatedly saying “It’s a rigged election,” due to the mail in ballots. Due to this, Wallace asked the men if they would go along with the results of the election.

“If it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome,” said Biden while Trump refused to utter these words.

(Image via ABC News)

One of the most poignant moments of the debate was when Biden got fed up with Trump speaking over him and just went, “Would you shut up man?”

Trump a few minutes later got his own jab in saying, “Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” claiming that Biden didn’t even know where he went to college.

In general, the debate was a plethora of personal attacks, the two men speaking over each other and stretching the truth. Jake Tapper from CNN said, “That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck. That was the worst debate I have ever seen.”



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