It was messy and there was a lot of shouting, but President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday managed during their 90-minute debate to touch on some of the crucial issues facing American voters in November.
The following is a look at the key moments of the debate – the substance, the zingers and the insults:
– Sharp tongues –
Political observers expected the Republican incumbent to come out swinging, but it was the 77-year-old former vice president who ended up landing some of the toughest insults of the night, calling Trump a “clown” and a “liar.”
“Everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie. I’m not here to call out his lies,” Biden roared at one point.
At another moment, amid constant interruptions by the president, which angered even moderator Chris Wallace, Biden retorted, “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown. Excuse me, this person.”
And he said, “Will you shut up, man?” -which immediately was marketed by the Biden campaign on tee-shirts.
The Democratic White House hopeful said Trump was “the worst president that America has ever had.”
But the 74-year-old real estate mogul-turned-president launched a few zingers of his own, berating Biden for criticising his coronavirus response and saying Trump needed to get “a lot smarter” to avert more deaths.
“You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word with me. There’s nothing smart about you, Joe,” Trump fired back.
– What about those taxes? –
After a bombshell report from The New York Times indicating that Trump paid almost no federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017, the issue was bound to come up.
When Wallace asked Trump to directly say whether he had paid more than $750 in income tax in those years, not in any other taxes, he at first deflected and when pressed, said he had paid “millions of dollars.”
“Show us your tax returns,” said Biden, who released his own 2019 return before the debate in Cleveland, showing he and his wife had paid nearly $300,000.
“You’ll get to see it,” Trump replied, without saying when.
– Dragging the kids into it –
Much has been said and written about Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. Trump has repeatedly tried to frame the issue as one showing wrongdoing by the former vice president.
“China ate your lunch, Joe. And no wonder, your son goes in, and he takes out billions of dollars,” Trump said.
Biden turned the tables, suggesting he could “talk all night” about Trump’s family and “ethics.” Trump’s daughter Ivanka works as a senior advisor to her father, and her husband Jared Kushner is a high-profile White House aide.
“My family lost a fortune coming down and helping with government,” Trump said.