Biden and Trump Will Debate Six Main Issues. Here’s Where They Stand.
The long-anticipated first debate will cover issues like the coronavirus, social unrest and the Supreme Court, offering each candidate the chance to defend his record and attack his opponent’s.
By Thomas Kaplan and Michael D. Shear
WASHINGTON — President Trump is promising to keep America great. Joseph R. Biden Jr. wants to restore the soul of America.
But there is much more to discuss beyond those two slogans.
The long-anticipated first debate between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden on Tuesday night is expected to put a spotlight on pressing issues like the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 200,000 people in the United States, and the fight over the Supreme Court vacancy, whose outcome could affect American society for decades to come.
The debate will include six 15-minute segments on different topics selected by the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Here’s a look at where Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden stand on those six issues.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was exceptional, saying he acted early to impose travel restrictions from China; worked with states to acquire equipment like ventilators; and pushed for the development of treatments and vaccines.
The record, however, reveals that the president consistently played down the threat from the virus in the early days when it could have been contained, and ignored or resisted advice from his top health officials. The United States failed to provide enough testing to know how the virus was spreading, and Mr. Trump clashed with governors over the need for protective equipment.
There is also mounting evidence of the ways in which Mr. Trump and the White House put immense political pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies to accept Mr. Trump’s demands that the country reopen more quickly than they thought was safe.
And the president’s demands for a vaccine that could be announced before the election have left the public health community wary of the effectiveness and safety of a vaccine when one is ready.
For many months, Mr. Biden has put a major focus on the virus, condemning Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and making that a central argument as he asks voters to deny the president a second term.
That is almost certain to be a major focus of Mr. Biden’s in the debate, too. He has promised a starkly different approach to combating the virus, stressing the importance of deferring to scientific experts, and he has called for a national mask mandate, which Mr. Trump does not support. He has taken care to model good behavior in his campaign, wearing a mask himself and refraining from holding rallies.
Until the pandemic, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest arguments for re-election was the powerful performance of the economy, which had achieved low unemployment, strong growth and a soaring stock market.
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