TV debate Trump vs Biden: How did it go?

Republican US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden engaged in their first TV debate Tuesday night on Fox News. Commentators describe their impressions of the two candidates.

Open/close all quotes (HR) /

The President should have stayed home

Trump made a complete fool of himself in the TV debate, says:

“The campaign has shown that Trump doesn't even have himself, much less the state, under control. It was painful to see the President of the US make a fool of himself as a bully and barbarian with the whole world watching. But that is the image of America today - the voters elected precisely this bully. Trump did not do himself any favours by presenting himself like this in the debate. ... If he thinks his behaviour reversed the trend in his favour, he has seriously miscalculated. It would have been wiser not to show up for the debate at all.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Silence would have been gold for Biden

Biden lost a lot of points because of his reaction to Trump's behaviour, columnist Aristos Michailidis suspects in Phileleftheros:

“Trump didn't disappoint me because he simply no longer can. ... I was however very disappointed by Biden. In the face of his opponent's bullying, he lost his stance of a serious, civilised, moderate and cool-headed politician, which this large country needs so badly right now. ... Biden reacted quite abruptly to Trump's blows, which were to be expected; Trump interrupted him 73 times. ... If the Democratic candidate had taken just a single step back and had been demonstratively silent, I believe he would have won a lot of points. Surely many more than by shouting 'Will you shut up, man' at Trump, thereby losing control.”

Kaleva (FI) /

Dialogues with their own voters

This debate had no added value for undecided voters, Kaleva summarises:

“Both candidates mostly addressed their own supporters even though it would have been important to win over undecided voters. Most voters have already made up their minds, but not all of them. That is why Trump gave such a stormy performance, to make Biden appear old and weak. ... But Biden showed presidential resilience in this most recent debate when he simply smiled at Trump's attacks. Confronted with the flood of words, he didn't even have the chance to say anything rash.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

A civil war can no longer be ruled out

Berliner Zeitung is horrified that Trump did not distance himself from the neo-fascist militia 'Proud Boys':

“'Stand back and stand by.' But what should these armed neo-Nazis stand by for if not battles in the streets of American cities, which Trump apparently considers possible or even desirable, following an unclear outcome of the election? Nobody can assume that the Democrats would accept Trump declaring himself the winner on election night even though millions of vote-by-mail ballots have not yet been counted. ... If armed right-wing militias take to the streets in this situation, the comparably equipped radical Left won't stay at home. The first US Civil War took place 155 years ago. A second one can no longer be ruled out.”

Politiken (DK) /

Biden remains calm

Politiken's verdict is that Joe Biden was the voice of reason in this encounter:

“The Democratic presidential candidate did not go into the personal attacks and remained calm in the face of Trump's repeated broadsides against his son. And in the heat of the moment he even succeeded in providing a little bit of substance, referring to the massive economic inequality, the neglected struggle against climate change and the racial conflicts that are currently tearing the US apart. The most important thing however was Biden's message at the end, calling on people to 'vote, vote, vote'. Americans should at least be able to agree on that.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

It's impossible to debate with Trump

By no means was this duel a real debate, El Periódico de Catalunya writes dismissively:

“It was one of the most embarrassing moments in the recent history of the US. It is difficult to identify a winner because all US citizens were the losers here. It was a meeting between a brute and a decent person. This realization may have been the Democratic candidate's only success; he could hardly finish an argument without being attacked. It is impossible to debate with a pathologically rude person whose goal it is to transform the debate into a brawl. Impossible to talk with a person who doesn't let one speak and who twists the facts in order to say he has 'done a great job'.”

HuffPost Italia (IT) /

A verbal brawl

Voters got absolutely nothing out of this duel, complains deputy editor Carlo Renda in HuffPost Italia:

“Donald Trump and Joe Biden immediately launch into a fiery, vitriolic 90-minute duel that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News has difficulty keeping under control. The two candidates for the White House interrupt each other, talk over each other, insult each other, resorting several times to below-the-belt comments, including personal attacks. ... The personal confrontation completely obscures the substance of the debate, a politically depressing spectacle, a verbal brawl. ... The TV duel has added nothing new to the campaign; it's hard to imagine how it should convince the undecided.”