Trump, Biden meet in bitter first debate

Frontrunner Joe Biden and a politically wounded Donald Trump took the stage in Cleveland for their first televised debate Tuesday, watched by a deeply divided nation 35 days ahead of the most tense US election in recent memory.

There was no handshake as the two men took the stage and while this was due to Covid-19 restrictions, the absence of the traditional greeting symbolized the bitterness engulfing the country in the final countdown to November 3.

From the opening exchanges over healthcare, where Trump accused Biden of being a “socialist,” the tension was palpable, interrupting each other.

But before they even appeared for the first of three 90-minute TV showdowns, barbs were flying.

Biden, seeking to eat into Trump’s crucial support among blue collar voters, capitalized on bombshell revelations that the billionaire Trump managed to avoid paying almost any federal income taxes for years.

And Trump, facing the threat of being made a one-term president, pushed a conspiracy theory suggesting his challenger needs performance enhancing drugs and might wear an earpiece to get answers during the debate. (AFP | Saul Loeb with Sebastian Smith in Washington)

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