CLEVELAND — Marked by angry interruptions and bitter accusations, the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden erupted in contentious exchanges Tuesday night over the coronavirus pandemic, city violence, job losses and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation’s health care.
In what was the most chaotic presidential debate in recent years, somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign, the two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”
“The fact is that everything he’s said so far is simply a lie,” Biden said. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”
Trump and Biden arrived in Cleveland hoping the debate would energize their bases of support, even as they competed for the slim slice of undecided voters who could decide the election. It has been generations since two men asked to lead a nation facing such tumult, with Americans both fearful and impatient about the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 of their fellow citizens and cost millions of jobs.
Over and over, Trump tried to control the conversation, interrupting Biden and repeatedly talking over the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News. The president tried to deflect tough lines of questioning—whether on his taxes or the pandemic—to deliver broadsides against Biden.
The president drew a lecture from Wallace, who pleaded with both men to stop interrupting. Biden tried to push back against Trump, sometimes looking right at the camera to directly address viewers rather than the president and snapping, “It’s hard to get a word in with this clown.”
The vitriol exploded into the open when Biden attacked Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying that the president “waited and waited” to act when the virus reached America’s shores and “still doesn’t have a plan.” Biden told Trump to “get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap” and go in his golf cart to the Oval Office to come up with a bipartisan plan to save people.
Trump snarled a response, declaring that “I’ll tell you Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood.”
“I know how to do the job,” was the solemn response from Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president.
The pandemic’s effects were in plain sight, with the candidates’ lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped. The men did not shake hands and, while neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings.
Trump struggled to define his ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act on health care in the debate’s early moments and defended his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, declaring that “I was not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”
“We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate. We have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee, respected by all.”
Trump criticized Biden over the former vice president’s refusal to comment on whether he would try to expand the Supreme Court in retaliation if Barrett is confirmed to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As the conversation moved to race, Biden accused Trump of walking away from the American promise of equity for all and making a race-based appeal.
“This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” Biden said.
Recent months have seen major protests after the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. And Biden said there is systemic racist injustice in this country and while the vast majority of police officers are “decent, honorable men and women” there are “bad apples” and people have to be held accountable.
Trump in turn claimed that Biden’s work on a federal crime bill treated the African American population “about as bad as anybody in this country.” The president pivoted to his hardline focus on those protesting racial injustice and accused Biden of being afraid to use the words “law and order,” out of fear of alienating the left.
“Violence is never appropriate,” Biden said. “Peaceful protest is.”
BELOIT — A peaceful protest march from Beloit to Janesville is scheduled for Saturday as marchers speak out regarding the shooting death of Breonna Taylor involving Louisville police.
The march, organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) will start at 11 a.m. in Riverside Park and end at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville, according to SURJ organizer Yusuf Adama. Protestors will head along Highway 51 to Janesville and then proceed to the courthouse, Adama said, adding that participants will walk on the shoulder of the roadway and minimize the number of times they cross the street.
“We are in contact with the (Rock County) Sheriff’s Department right now about assistance to make sure this stays as safe as possible with the march being across city lines,” Adama said.
Adama said he felt the event would be a “show of strength” and be a call back to past protest marches in the country during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
“The physical presence and movement of people that want something changed has always struck a cord with me,” Adama said. “We need to be respected because holding politicians accountable is easier than walking dozens of miles, and if we’re willing to do one then you know we’re willing to do the other.”
On Sept. 23, a grand jury charged one of the three officers involved in Taylor’s death with wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into another home with people inside. Taylor, 26, was killed when police opened fire in the home. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the other two officers were not indicted in the case, saying the officers were justified in firing their weapons because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had fired a shot at police.
No homicide charges have been filed in the case.
“This year has been insane, but I still did not expect the conclusion of this terrible situation to be the houses, the physical properties, that were hit with gunfire being perceived as more worthy of punishment for being hit than Breonna Taylor was. Qualified immunity and no knock raids need to end,” Adama said.
The planned event comes in the latest peaceful protests hosted by SURJ following the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the Kenosha police non-fatal shooting of Jacob Blake.
BELOIT — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and gatherings in Region One, that includes Winnebago County, on Tuesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) signaled a “resurgence” of the virus in the state.
Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Assumption School in Beloit has switched to all online learning for two weeks after a student was identified with COVID-19.
In Winnebago County, Illinois, restrictions on in-person service at businesses, bars and restaurants will start on Oct. 3 due to an average test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days.
The restrictions on bars and restaurants include no indoor service; all outdoor service to close at 11 p.m.; and reservations are required. Meetings, social events, gatherings are limited to 25 guests or 25% overall room capacity.
The IDPH will track the positivity rate in Region One to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place. If the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, then Regions 1 will return to Phase 4 mitigations under the Restore Illinois Plan.
On Tuesday, the health department reported 82 cases and no additional deaths, bringing the countywide total to 6,017 cases and 153 deaths. The county has a recovery rate of 96.4% and a seven-day average test positivity rate of 8.9%.
Boone County reported 1,136 cases and 23 deaths; DeKalb County reported 1,604 cases and 38 deaths; McHenry County reported 4,625 cases and 118 deaths; Ogle County reported 732 cases and six deaths; and Stephenson County reported 536 cases and six deaths, per data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
Statewide, Illinois reported 1,362 new cases and 23 additional virus-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 291,001 and 8,637 deaths. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Sept. 22—Sept. 28 is 3.6%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 45,624 specimens for a total of 5,566,276. As of last night, 1,535 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 363 patients were in the ICU and 151 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The state has a recovery rate of 96%.
A full list of mitigation measures pertaining to some businesses and industries may be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website at www.dceocovid19resources.com/restore-illinois.
Wisconsin reported a 22% COVID-19 test positivity rate on Tuesday as Rock County reported 28 new cases, according to data published by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).
In Beloit, Our Lady Of Assumption Catholic School announced Tuesday that one student tested positive for COVID-19 after acquiring the virus outside of school, according to Principal Trevor Seivert.
Seivert said the student may have attended school while being asymptomatic, with the school switching to online learning for the next two weeks.
“This is what we have been planning for, so our students, parents and teachers are fully prepared to pivot to e-learning,” Seivert said. “During this time we ask all parents to monitor their children for symptoms and seek medical care if they appear to be sick.”
Rock County reports a total of 2,601 cases and 32 deaths as 36,248 negative tests have been reported. A total of 1,947 cases have recovered and the Rock County Public Health Department estimates there are a total of 622 active cases in the county as of Tuesday.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Rock County increased by four patients to 18 people hospitalized for treatment of the virus. Of the 157 tests processed on Tuesday in Rock County, 18% of tests were positive. Statewide, the seven-day test positivity rate average is 19.5%
Dane County reported 9,857 cases and 42 deaths; Green County reported 536 cases and three deaths; and Walworth County reported 2,618 cases and 35 deaths, DHS data from Tuesday shows.
Wisconsin reported 2,367 new cases and 17 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 119,955 cases and 1,300 deaths as an estimated 20,252 cases remain active. A total of 7,209 people have been hospitalized due to the virus as 98,385 people (82%) have recovered from COVID-19.