Chat transcript: Breaking down the first presidential debate

Sep 30, 2020

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We're moving our weekly chat up a day to discuss Tuesday's debate. 

Aaron Blake's takeaways are here. One of them was: That was awful. It seems everyone who watched thought so. But did we learn anything? Will it change anything? Even if the answer was no, the awfulness is worth dissecting, so let's do it. Looking forward to your questions. 

Any chance that Mike Pence withdraws from a campaign that refuses to denounce white supremacy? Or is he completely on board with Trump and everything he says?

We've been watching congressional Republican reactions today to the president not clearly denouncing white supremacy. Some are calling on him to clarify. But top House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy tried to argue that Trump actually did say he would denounce them (future tense), so therefore he denounced them. He didn't. 

I don't think this is a new issue for the Republican Party under Trump. It's similar to in 2017 when he said there were very fine people on both sides of the deadly white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, and the GOP largely stayed with him then, too. 

Thanks for hosting these chats. Chris Wallace was in an almost impossible position. He had a president who refused to abide by the rules and wouldn't listen to Wallace when told that he was talking out of order. The one place that Wallace can fairly be criticized are a couple of different questions where he prefaced his question to Trump by saying "You're going to like this....." He may not have intended to, but he gave the impression that he was pulling for Trump. What did you think of Wallace's performance? 

I agree with just about everything you said. There's only so much you can do unless you can cut off someone's microphone, which isn't going to happen. But I was also struck by the times in which he seemed too try to placate Trump by saying Trump would be "happy" about his next question. It was awkward. That said, Wallace's body of work speaks for itself, including his interview of Trump two months ago. It's a very difficult job and 99% of people would fail at it. It was a bad debate, but the rules restricted just how much Wallace could have prevented it.

Why didn't they mute his mic when he kept interrupting?

It's not allowed for by the rules, which remain very old-fashioned. The only recourse is pointing out that the rules were being broken -- which Wallace did at two points -- and voters actually caring about a president blatantly violating the rules over and over again.

Sorry I'm out of the loop on this. Where do they fall on the spectrum between making racist statements and encouraging/carrying out violent actions?

The Proud Boys have been involved in both in the past. The Post was in Portland this past wknd covering the latest Proud Boys rally and touched on that a bit. Here it is.

How many people turned off the debate before it ended? I couldn't watch more than 10 minutes; I don't think I was alone in this reaction.

I'm interested to see if ratings capture that. We know that going into this debate, nearly three-quarters of voters said they were planning on watching. 

But you're not alone, based on my text messages and social media feed, and just the general reaction the next day, in deciding this was unwatchable. Large chunks of it were unwatchable. 

Viewership for last night's debate was down from 2016, per the early Nielsen ratings, but these numbers will be revised as viewership from other time zones comes in.

differently than Chris Wallace did? I'm sure my old high school debate coach wouldn't have been pleased to see the conventions of orderly debate misused as they were last night.

Again, he was largely restricted by the rules. You could argue that he was set up to fail. But it's clear that the debate rules as they exist don't really work in the Trump era. I'm not saying they might not work in future presidential debates, but not allowing fact-checking, etc., totally plays into one candidate's hands.

Suggestions for making sure future debates actually demonstrate policy and leadership differences?

Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan had some thoughts on this earlier today. It seems clear that the format needs to change or needs to be tweaked, but how to do that is less clear. Some have suggested giving the moderator a "mute button," but that would likely allow the candidates to deflect criticism by putting even more blame on the moderator. It is also possible that in this current political environment, no political debate will be a substantive conversation about policy. Voters have generally found past presidential debates to be useful, but I am more skeptical that voters will find last night's debate useful given the chaos and interruptions.

It is impossible for ANYONE to control Trump. Wallace should set the ground rules -- if either side interrupts during the other candidates time, that time will automatically be added to the other candidate. And if that person interrupts during the added time, that time be be added again. Wallace can turn off the mic should Trump continue. No exceptions.

I'm going to answer one "cut off the mic" question and see what my other colleagues have to say.

There are no serious talks right now to change the debate format that I know of, neither from the Commission of Presidential Debates (I asked them) nor the moderators nor campaigns. That could change. But one thing to know is the next presidential debate Oct. 12 is a town hall where candidates will answer questions from voters, which might promote them to be on better behavior? 

I'm skeptical any rules changes will stop the interrupting. The president was so willing to break the rules for his own political benefit. 

UPDATE: This did change. After the live chat finished, the Commission on Presidential Debates said it was reviewing  unspecified "additional structure ... to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues." 

I'm a Democrat who completely supports President Trump's ability to nominate and try to confirm a Supreme Court justice in a Presidential Election year. He is the President for all four years of his term. But I will never forgive Senator McConnell for taking that ability away from President Obama with judge Merrick Garland. He didn't even get hearings or a vote. Are there other Democrats out there who will vote FOR a qualified nominee just because it is the right thing to do as RBG was confirmed overwhelmingly? Or will they all just vote against Judge Amy Coney Barrett because of what Senator McConnell did to Judge Garland?

There is no question that a president has the authority to do it. And I truly sympathize with the argument that you don't stop being president in the final year of your term (which is one-fourth of your presidency). But the GOP didn't explain its Garland blockade by saying "We have the power and can do whatever we want"; they cited a supposed "Biden Rule" that such nominations weren't to be considered in a presidential year.

As for whether Democrats will support her? If she's going to be confirmed, I wouldn't be surprised to see Manchin on-board. He voted for both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. But among the current Democratic senators, he was the only one to vote for either. Beyond that, maybe Doug Jones if he has a chance to win and views it as a vote he needs to take? But he voted against Kavanaugh. Maybe he could justify voting for Barrett by citing the questions about Kavanaugh's past don't apply to Barrett.

UPDATE: As J.M. points out, Manchin has said he wouldn't vote for Barrett if the vote is held before the election. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't in a lame duck.

Would it be possible for the next debate to have the moderator able to mute microphones when one candidate talks over the other? I left this 'debate' after 5 minutes [and I hear many others did too] because of the constant interruptions and talking over. If it happens again, I won't watch again....and the candidates should know that.

This was a pretty popular request on social media from viewers. Perhaps the best way to hear the person the moderator is questioning is literally silencing the person he or she is not speaking to. I imagine that the other networks that will host debates are going to consider this option. 

In no way did that debate improve Trump's chances of winning the election. Sure, maybe he fired up his anti-government base. But that's not what he needs to do right now if he is still trying to win the election: He needs to expand the number of people voting for him. I hate to say this, but based on his words and actions (telling the Proud Boys to "stand by"), it looks for all the world to me like Trump is expecting to lose and then to mount a right-wing insurrection, ultimately relying on his Republican buddies and/or the Supreme Court to keep in the White House. At which point, if Trump loses the popular vote and the Electoral College but remains in the White House, there would be a LIBERAL-led insurrection. Tell me I'm wrong.

I agree that Trump was the one who needed something from the debate, much more so than Biden. But I'm not sure the only way to do that is expanding his base; you could also argue that trying to drag down Biden was the goal, in that it could make both of them unappealing to the political middle -- much like in 2016.

I don't think that happened, but it seemed to be the goal. Expanding his base clearly wasn't, but he's never shown a desire or willingness to attempt that.

In a Biden Administration, will term limits ever be addressed? I believe term limits could help stem some of the money that flows from Lobbyists to elected government officials. The President is limited to 2 terms. Why not the Senate and House of Representatives as well?

Unlikely. It is unlikely that members of Congress, some of whom have been in office for decades, would vote for such a proposal. There are also sitting members of Congress who previously pledged to serve only one or two terms who are still in office many terms later. Some would also push back on the suggestion that term limits are needed or would change much. And others argue there are term limits in the system: it's called elections.

Was this format different than in the past? It felt more freewheeling and freeform, and could have used more structure. Granted, I think Trump was a big part of the problem there as well.

I think you are correct. The president seemed to pushback on or fully reject every system that has been established to maintain order in debates. Doing that gave the impression to some people that things were far less organized than they actually were. But the reality is that it can be difficult to maintain rules in a situation like a presidential debate when there isn't full buy-in from all parties. 

Why not have the candidate's microphone automatically cut off at the end of each allotted speaking time? That way, at least any attempted interruption of the other candidate won't be amplified.

An interesting idea -- literally not allowing mics to work outside of their 2 minute allotments. That eliminates arguments about it being invoked unfairly.

But it would REALLY take away from the actual debating. The thing is, we need the candidates to interact and even sometimes interrupt! Just not like they did Tuesday night.

I didn't watch the debate because I read body language and vocal tones very well. For that reason, I knew it would be upsetting. But, I'd like to follow it from beginning to end, even observing the body language. How do I call up a captioned replay? I'll turn the sound off. Thanks and regards.

I believe C-SPAN might be able to help you out on that. They generally have captions available.

Maybe next time I'll try watching with the sound off too. :)

When the number of SCOTUS justices varied in the past, what were the mechanisms and rationales for raising and lowering the headcount?


As I wrote in a court-packing explainerIn the Civil War era, the court expanded and shrank like an accordion. In 1863, the Republican Congress expanded the court to 10 justices to give President Abraham Lincoln an extra appointment. A few years after, Congress reduced the court to seven justices to prevent President Andrew Johnson from making any appointments, and then expanded it to nine in 1869 to give President Ulysses S. Grant vacancies. It has stayed at nine ever since.

Why are Presidential candidates’ ability to pass basic security clearances not required before being allowed to run for the highest office in the nation?

Because it creates a barrier to the office that could theoretically be abused by unelected officials. The argument is that the American people can decide for themselves whether that kind of thing is important to them.

Maybe we just need to outsource the questioning to Brits and Australians. Swann and the Aussie woman interviewing Sarah Huckabee about her new "book" weren't so easily flustered. I know a debate is different from an interview but Wallace could hardly have been surprised by Trump's clown show.

Some of the best debates I've ever watched have been the British PM debates. No audience, sharp moderator, informative. Just as long as it's not Piers Morgan.

I see no purpose in having another debate like this. Can Biden refuse to participate without seeming cowardly?

It would certainly look bad after agreeing to them -- and after Harris said last night that Biden would continue to participate.

Early in the debate, while talking about health care, President Trump said "I have a plan." Biden opted to engage him with argument. I believe he said something like "He doesn't have a plan." In real time, my thought for a response from VP Biden was: "Chris, how much time do we have in this segment? I will cede my time to let President Trump to explain his plan and if it's good, I'll endorse it." My question is two fold, does that answer suck? If not, why wasn't Biden prepped for that response?

This response may have worked, but it is worth remembering that Trump likely would have returned to his past rhetoric on health care without getting into the specifics. Biden clearly missed some opportunities to capitalize on some of Trump's comments last night, but the debate was plagued by so much chaos, I'm not convinced a Biden response like that would have made a difference in the end.

There's been a lot of chatter that if the Dems take the Senate, they'll end the filibuster. Don't they realize this will come back to bite them if the Republicans ever get back in power, the same way Harry Reid's ending the 60-vote rule on federal judiciary appointments in 2013 led to the Republicans ending the 60-vote rule on Supreme Court appointment debates? Or is the short-term win more important than the long game of preserving democracy?

That's the gamble Democrats have to navigate right now. Anything they do to lower or completely take away the minority party's ability to stop legislation will do exactly that, no matter who's in the minority party.

In the past few months, Senate Democrats have used the filibuster to stop a Republican police reform bill and a Republican coronavirus relief package they called "emaciated."

Here I looked at some of the possible governing changes, from court packing to ending the filibuster to making DC a state to Supreme Court term limits that some Democrats are talking about, and rank their likelihood.

In the words of Philip Bump, Trump's debate strategy was to "tweet out loud for 90 minutes". Do you think this agitation strategy was effective in disrupting Biden's messaging?

While I'd never recommend citing Philip, I think he's on to something. It certainly prevented Biden from driving much of a message, but Biden wasn't the one who needed to win people over. He just needs continued stasis. And Trump's tweeting hasn't exactly set him up on a path for success thus far.

To whom does trump owe $421 billion debt? If he owes it to a foreign entity isn’t that a national security risk? No matter who he owes it to, isn’t he a national security risk now? If he was in any office other than president, would he even be granted national security clearance?

This is literally the argument that the president's critics are making with the hope that voters concerned about national security back Joe Biden. Without knowing who President Trump owes money, questions about how he his going about making foreign policy decisions remain unanswered -- and that is deeply concerning for those who have questions about transparency.

Has anyone put out a list of all the lies/facts from the debate or is that still in progress?

The Post fact checked the entire debate here.

In 2020, isn't the answer usually "More Zoom!" Hold the debate by Zoom, and the moderator can switch on Camera A for two minutes, then Camera B for two minutes. Put a timer on it, visible to all. No interrupting, nobody running long. (I'm halfway serious.)

Intriguing solution and so 2020! Counterpoint:  Is the moderator saying over and over again "sir, you're on mute!" likely to any more productive? 

Any idea how the next moderator will handle the second debate in light of the acrimony and obfuscation in the first one?

They need to do something, but the Commission on Presidential Debates is averse to change. And changing the rules now would be perceived as trying to benefit one candidate after the process has already begun and the rules have been agreed-upon.

So the Tennessee Titans players and staff who recently contracted COVID-19 now know who to blame.

As an LSU fan, my response after our first game is: Sir, you really shouldn't have. 

While I also agree this debate was an absolute travesty, I think Biden handled it about as well as he possibly could. His strategy of addressing the cameras instead of his opponent at key junctures in particular stood out to me as an inspired move. Do you agree with that point?

He was more focused on that at the start -- to the point where it was clear his goal was to avoid engaging Trump's badgering. But you can only do that so long without being totally steamrolled. I doubt Biden did much to hurt himself last night.

but let's get this out of the way: What are the chances a Continuing Resolution is not approved by midnight tonight?

It's just one vote shy of going to the president's desk, and the Senate is expected to vote later today on that. Trump has threatened to veto spending bills that are literally on the way to his desk, but I see no appetite for anyone to shut down the government right now. There's just too much else going on.

Now if you asked me what are the odds for a coronavirus relief package? Unless there's some sort of breakthrough deal today, very very very low.

If Hunter Biden is fair game for Trump, how about Biden telling the American people that the Trump kids aren't necessarily the Brady Bunch either? Didn't one of them run a fake charity and Ivanka has had all kinds of ethical issues, and her husband is a slumlord. What am I missing here?

This is the response many viewers thought Biden would have to Trump's comments attacking the vice president's son. The controversies about the business ethics of several of the president's kids have gotten significant media attention -- even within the past week. But Biden stayed away from mentioning them. Perhaps it was because he believes that kids are off limits. Or maybe he just simply forgot or did not know just how questionable the ethics of the Trump children are. But it will be interesting to see how he responds to these attacks -- which Trump is bound to repeat -- at the next debate. 

Are the adult children of candidates fair game? Trump went after Hunter Biden.

To the extent voters are willing to abide it!

A few things:

1. The campaign against Hunter Biden is arguably applicable, in that he allegedly benefited from his father's position as VP.

2. That wasn't Trump's initial argument, though. His argument was that Biden intervened in Ukraine to benefit his son, which even the GOP Senate report acknowledges there's no proof of.

3. To the extent this doesn't connect to Joe Biden's actual actions, it's certainly less applicable to his candidacy.

4. Trump's attempt to transition from Joe Biden talking about his dead son, Beau, to bringing up Hunter was one of the uglier moments of the night.

Do you really believe McConnell wouldn't have ended the filibuster for judicial nominations in 2017 if Harry Reid hadn't acted previously on lower court nominees? If you do, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Whether McConnell would have acted in 2017 or not had Reid not acted in 2013 is really speculation, but I'd encourage you to watch The Fix's recent deep dive on how the judicial nominating process has become increasingly partisan over the past three decades.

There is also an argument that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a strategic error by using the filibuster against Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for a vacancy that would not have shifted the liberal/conservative balance on the court, and instead that Schumer should have waited until the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

I don’t think Trump will debate again. Think town hall style benefits Biden not Trump. Any thoughts?

Our Washington Post reporting is that the Biden campaign feels stronger about having a town hall debate, which will be the next one in Miami in October. And that makes sense As I said earlier in this chat, the presence of voters could put Trump especially on better behavior. Biden also feels like he is stronger when connecting with voters, and he generally is. You saw him look into the camera last night a couple times and say things like: I'm not here to talk about Trump's family or mine, I'm here to talk about yours. 

Why is Trump so eager for a vaccine to be produced before the election? He has nothing to do with putting out a vaccine, and even if one was produced before Nov. 3 almost no one would have access to it for a while. Do you think any undecided voter or Biden supporter would be swayed to vote for Trump because a vaccine is produced before the election?

It's been a puzzling question to me, too. Much like I don't understand Trump's short-term worry about the economy vs. killing off the virus (which mattered much more for the longer-term state of the economy), I think he's oversimplifying things by believing an earlier vaccine will make a big difference for him.

Will evangelical Christians realize the Court will soon have enough conservative Justices that all their issues will win; therefore, they do not have to accept all of Trump's misdeeds any longer, thus saving democracy and the country? from Bob Williams of Asheboro, N. C.

I'm not convinced that many of Trump's evangelical supporters view his questionable actions and words as misdeeds. So many of the behaviors and comments that Trump critics assume that his religious supporters would interpret as inappropriate are in fact, quite acceptable and perhaps even encouraged among his most faithful supporters.

Would Biden be well-served by refusing to participate in a “debate” as had been suggested by Pelosi and a number of pundits. What’s the value of such mudfests to a candidate already in the lead?

You're right that Pelosi has encouraged Biden not to debate. This morning on MSNBC she wagged an "I told you so" finger. 

But put yourself in the perspective of the Biden campaign. They're seeing polls tighten in some swing states (though he's still in the lead most of the ones that matter), and how could they not miss an opportunity to try to talk to millions of voters -- and attack Trump in front of those same voters? 

Aaron - in your Five Key Takeaways article, I was surprised that Trump not condemning white supremacy and his Proud Boys comment didn't make your list since that was a top talking point for most outlets afterwards. Why didn't you include it?

It's in there -- a later addition as it came late in the debate.

Hello and thank you for doing this! I personally and the rest of my family felt that we couldn't understand any of the information said by Biden because Trump was nonstop interrupting him and being disrespectful. Do you know where I can find the transcripts to read, and how we can make the next debate not a mess?

You can find a full transcript here. The Commission on Presidential Debates posts transcripts of past debates here. The next presidential debate is a town hall format, so some of the chaos may decrease.

Trump lies virtually every time his lips move. He is always lying about Democrats, CV19 response, economy. He has dangerous methods of steering interviews the way he wants and telling people to be quiet. I want everything he says fact checked. There will be NO truth spoken by him unless he is. He'll use his Con methods to keep Joe Biden looking weak, and this could cause a re-election of the Trump, which we cannot let happen!!!

One of the biggest challenges with debating Trump, according to many of the politicians who have debated him, is that you could end up spending most, if not, all of your time simply correcting all of his statements that are factually incorrect. And this keeps his opponents from getting out their own agendas and messaging, which is not how any candidate wants to spend a debate.

Maybe the president thinks it will demonstrate that he took the virus seriously, has taken many steps to fight it, etc. He certainly won't take any steps that he's previously rejected, like encouraging a second relief bill or promoting mask usage or increasing PPE production using the Defense Production Act. This way he gets to claim credit for actions that didn't cost him anything.

There might be something to that. But doing more to encourage masks is also something he could do at relatively little cost, but that would help reopen the economy, and he's still declining to do it. I think what's become clear over time is that he likes the perception of a quick fix rather than more intermittent mitigation or doing anything that reinforces the scale of the problem. But why not do both? The verdict was always going to be where things stood in October and November, not momentary downturns in the economy or a rising number of cases in March.

At least this is likely to be more civil, even if there are prickly moments. Any predictions on how this encounter between the epitome of white male conservatism and a biracial strong woman plays out on stage?

Well we've seen how Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is a pretty strong debater. Sometimes, especially in committee hearing questioning she's become known for, she starts down a path that she never finishes. So I'll watch for that. But she's also fearless in debates. (See: Attacking Biden on busing.)

Vice President Pence, as The Fix's Aaron Blake has pointed out, generally has run positive campaigns and tries not to go on the attack -- like in his last debate four years ago. So, it could be a study in contrasts. 

We really shouldn't spend another minute, much less an hour, discussing that worthless debate. Where do things stand on the major Senate races? Dems look good in AZ, CO, ME, and NC. Iowa seems to be trending Dem as well. Ossoff got a couple good polls in Georgia recently. Warnock vaulted to top of the jungle primary, but it seems headed for a runoff. Bullock, though, seems to have stalled out in Montana. I don't know what to make of South Carolina, Kansas, Alaska, or Texas, though.

Here are my latest rankings of how competitive things are across the Senate map.

I think generally that's right. It still feels like where it's been the past few weeks or even months: That Democrats have expanded the map to some pretty conservative states (South Carolina in particular looks to be close. So could Kansas.) But they still need to unseat about four Republicans to get the majority, and it's possible they fall about one seat short. Or things go to a runoff in January in either of these two Georgia Senate races, and Democrats don't have as much luck in Georgia in runoffs.  

How is it fair that the party in power makes significant changes to policy while receiving only a minority of votes? Isn’t this indicating a need to abolish the electoral college?

This is perhaps one of the most common questions to arise after the 2016 election. Interestingly enough, minority rule existed in many states before then. But it has become more noticeable as more people reflect on the 2000 election and express their fears about the current race and how minority rule could become the new normal. Trump is on track to lose the popular vote (again). If he does, yet wins the presidency, we should expect calls to get rid of the Electoral College to reach new heights. 

What must be done to make sure that this issue if given airtime?

You know, it wasn't one of the six pre-stated topics that Chris Wallace chose and announced. And he got some criticism for that. 

So I personally was surprised to hear Wallace ask specifically about the wildfires and each candidate's climate policy in the latter half of the debate. I imagine it will get more attention in the other debates, too. This is polling higher and higher for voters as an issue they are concerned about. 

Who holdsTrump's outstanding loans? What happens if he defaults?

We don't know who his loans are due to -- they are related to his golf courses that are losing money. And if he defaults, well it depends on how much money he has. He has said rather than be underleveraged, he's overleveraged. But that's not the case the New York Times reporting makes. They argue his business model has been built on reporting massive losses and getting tax breaks as a result. It's possible his golf courses could start closing as a result. 

Are there any consideration from either campaigns or media outlet to cancel future debates?


There's a valid debate to be had about the value of these debates. But one messy debate does not make the organizers (there's an entire nonpartisan commission with decades of expertise dedicated to putting these on) any less likely to cancel them. 

That was a spectacularly bad showing for Joe. He lost for everything but his defense of his son’s. How can he recover, if it’s possible?

I don't know if I agree with that assessment, that his debate performance calls into question his political future. Compared to Trump, he seemed to be to be the winner. But I agree with The Post's Dan Balz, who argues Biden missed opportunities --even in the rare times Trump was silent -- to make the case for his presidency. He had some strong answers on coronavirus and race ,but he also at one point made it sound like he was defending the Green New Deal from Trump, even though he's trying to run away from that liberal climate plan. 

The transcript clearly shows the President denouncing (or showing openness to denouncing) White Supremacism, as he has done on at least 20 previous occasions. However when Joe Biden, with Wallace’s assistance, asserted the “Fine People” line, there was no push back. How can the media regain trust from such obvious bias?

The main problem with this and most anti-media questions is that it assumes that the American people are at worst ignorant and at best, incapable of trusting their own ears. Trump's answer is being interpreted as pro-white supremacy not because the media said so. But because Americans -- including the Proud Boys -- heard it with their own ears. 

It is literally untrue that he "refused" to denounce white supremacy groups. When asked if he would, the first thing out of Trump's mouth was, "Sure, I would be willing to do that." How is that a refusal?

Trump did not explicitly denounce white supremacy. (Also, it's remarkable this is even a necessary debate question.)

He used the subjunctive tense to indicate he might do it under certain situations. ("Sure I'm willing to do that.") But when pressed to actually do it, he didn't. He said this: "I would say -- I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing."

I was surprised that Biden didn’t hit back on attacks on Hunter with the Chinese patents issued to Ivanka while the US was attempting to negotiate trade deals with China. (Not to mention the shady double dealing revealed by Trump’s tax returns).

Yeah he specifically chose not to, instead saying there were things he could say about the Trump children but that he'd rather focus on the average American family's struggles.

It was a tactic on his part to sound like the more relatable candidate. Sounds like some of you would have preferred he respond to an attack with an attack. 

why didn't Biden keep calling him a liar..... on the caravans, the virus, his fake wealth, his refusal to appear with Muller.....and so many other statements?

I count at least 6 instances in which Biden called Trump a "liar" who said he was speaking "lies."

...a moderator to succeed in controlling a Trump-Biden debate?

I do not know if anyone could be successful in that situation. 

We're out of time for this week, so I'll hit our own mute button. Thanks for the great questions. We'll see you back here next week — the usual noon on Thursday — which will be the day after the vice presidential debate. You can find the link to our chat here. 

In This Chat
Amber Phillips
Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan.
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hill newspaper.
Eugene Scott
Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was recently a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics. And prior to joining the Post, he was a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics.
JM Rieger
JM Rieger is the video editor for The Fix, covering national politics. He joined The Washington Post in 2018. Previously, Rieger worked as a video producer covering national politics for HuffPost. He began his career as a video editor covering Congress for Roll Call.
Natalie Jennings
Natalie Jennings is editor of The Fix. She has been at The Washington Post since 2010 and was previously a senior producer for Post Video.
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