It was even more toxic than expected: Donald Trump and Joe Biden received a violent exchange of blows in the TV duel. How the candidates were doing and what was important: the lightning analysis.

Five weeks before the US presidential election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden met for the first time in a television duel. The opponents fought in Cleveland, Ohio, on a violent and personal argument. They also exchanged verbal abuse.

The main findings in lightning analysis:

This is how the debate went

After a few minutes things got chaotic, mainly thanks to the president. Donald Trump quickly and extensively began to interrupt opponent Biden and presenter Chris Wallace. Wallace struggled to lead the debate. Only after less than an hour did he warn Trump more clearly to abide by the rules. Differences in content also became apparent in the debate, for example in economic and climate policy, but personal attacks and wild talk dominated. It took less than fifteen minutes for Joe Biden to lose his temper for the first time: he said to the president, “Shut up, man?”

This is how Trump did

From the start, his goal was to disrupt and interrupt. In fact, he occasionally confused both Biden and presenter Wallace. He shot himself into Biden’s character and person. Even when Biden spoke about his son Beau, who had died of cancer, Trump provoked him with questions about his other son Hunter, whom he accused of unfair business. Beforehand, Trump was expected to provoke Biden with questions about his son. But even political supporters later stated that Trump had overshot the mark. Consultant Chris Christie called the performance “too hot”.

Time and again Trump pushed Biden into the corner of left-wing Democrats and their plans to cut money from the police. Biden distanced himself again and again. “An avalanche of lies,” the CNN Factchecker called Trump’s actions.

This is how Biden acted

Joe Biden tried to defend himself against Trump’s maneuver with a dual strategy. But he always ran into limits. On the one hand, Biden smiled conspicuously and meaningfully several times when Trump made unfounded claims or attacked him directly. He wanted to state clearly that he does not want to lower himself to Trump’s level. “I’m not here to point out his lies,” he said at the outset. “Everyone knows he’s a liar.”

At the same time, Biden repeatedly attacked the US president directly and violently. “He’s the racist,” he accused Trump. And: “He is Putin’s pup.” Biden’s most obvious attack will be remembered: “You are the worst president America has ever had.” Biden tried to describe Trump substantively. But in the riot, he was only able to bring up a few substantial points. “He has no plan,” he said of Trump. Except for a few keywords, he couldn’t explain his. Big blunders and dropouts that his advisers feared did not happen to Biden.

The most important moment

Finally, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump and Biden two crucial questions: Do you want to tell your supporters to stay calm regardless of the election outcome? And don’t you want to declare yourself the winner early?

Observers fear that post-election demonstrations could turn violent – and that Trump could claim victory on election night before counting the votes in the ballot by mail, which could change things again for Biden.

Biden answered the question succinctly with: Yes. Trump emphatically does not, on the contrary: he has raised concerns about electoral fraud. He calls on his followers to keep a close eye on the counting of votes. Militant supporters of Trump, some of whom already patrol armed cities, should see this as their support.


Trump, who is clearly behind Biden in the polls, shouldn’t be able to make up for any ground with this wild appearance. Biden, on the other hand, clearly struggled to argue with the uncontrollable president. He got tangled up several times, which should cannibalize the other side. Even if both worked very differently and Trump more strongly ignored the rules, no one should feel like a clear winner.

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