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Viewers' Guide: Trump, Biden meet in Ohio for 1st debate

President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will meet in their first debate Tuesday in a presidential election year marked by extraordinary turmoil.

Posted: Sep 29, 2020 9:55 AM
Updated: Sep 30, 2020 10:36 AM

President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will meet in their first debate Tuesday in a presidential election year marked by extraordinary turmoil.

With the election 35 days away and early votes already being cast in some states, Biden has kept a lead over the Republican president in most national polls. While debates have not significantly shaken up the election in recent years, Tuesday’s highly anticipated matchup will offer the clearest contrast yet between the two men.

The debate, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time in Cleveland, is the first of three between Trump and Biden.

Here’s what to watch:

SUPREME COURT

A fast-track push by Republicans to fill the Supreme Court seat held by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg is roiling an already deeply divided Washington and will likewise be a flashpoint during the debate. Both Democrats and Republicans believe the confirmation battle might energize their voters and shape a court that could decide major issues such as health care, abortion access and possibly even the outcome of the November election.

Biden has so far not heeded Trump’s call to release a list of potential court nominees, as the president did before naming Amy Coney Barrett as his choice to replace Ginsburg. Biden has focused on how the makeup of the court could threaten President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

CORONAVIRUS

The president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be a central focus. More than 200,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. while everyday life remains jumbled and many schools and businesses are still shuttered. The president has defended his response to the outbreak, frequently pointing to his move to restrict travel from China in February.

But the president and his backers have routinely dismissed experts’ analysis of the seriousness of the outbreak and measures to rein it in. A new book from journalist Bob Woodward revealed the president acknowledged intentionally playing down the seriousness of the virus earlier this year.

Biden and Democrats have keyed in on the president’s coronavirus response throughout the campaign, and the former vice president is expected to keep it front and center Tuesday.

CLASS (AND TAX BILL) CONTRASTS

Biden, who frequently highlights his working-class upbringing, has increasingly cast the election as a campaign “between Scranton and Park Avenue,” referring to his own childhood home in Pennsylvania and Trump’s adult life as a Manhattan businessman.

Biden is likely to turbocharge that argument Tuesday in the wake of a bombshell New York Times report on the president’s shrouded tax history, including that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in many other years.

Biden’s line of attack aims to cut into Trump’s support among white working-class voters, particularly in Rust Belt states that helped him win the presidency in 2016.

TACTICS AND STYLE

Trump, a former reality show star, is at ease on camera and has skipped formal debate preparation. He often leapfrogs to friendlier talking points like the confirmation of judges or “law and order,” favors derisive nicknames and withering attacks, and at times employs a dizzying number of false statements and misrepresentations.

Biden’s performances during the Democratic primary debates were uneven and played a role in his early struggles in polling and primary contests. With decades in politics, he’s also got more experience as a debater than the president. Biden has promised to be a “fact-checker” as he stands side-by-side with Trump but also says he doesn’t want to get sucked into a “brawl.” Look for the Democrat to walk a line between contrasting himself with the president and challenging the man who may continue his campaign attacks on Biden’s mental and physical stamina or his family.

MODERATOR AND FORMAT

The debate will be moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who has a reputation as a straight shooter. Wallace moderated a presidential debate in 2016, favoring direct questions to get the candidates talking. He said before the 2016 debate that he did not believe it is his job “to be a truth squad,” and he largely stayed away from interjecting to fact-check the candidates.

The format for Tuesday’s debate consists of six 15-minute segments, scheduled to focus on the following topics, selected by Wallace: “The Trump and Biden Records,” “The Supreme Court,” ”COVID-19,” “The Economy,” “Race and Violence in our Cities” and “The Integrity of the Election.”

Each candidate will be given two minutes to respond to a question from the moderator opening the segment. Candidates will then be able to respond to each other, and the moderator will use the rest of the 15-minute period to discuss the topic further.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Amid the customs and routines upended by the coronavirus will be the customary display of civility before the debate: Trump and Biden are not expected to shake hands at the opening. They will each be stationed at podiums spaced far apart and are expected to have a limited, socially distanced audience.

HOW TO WATCH

The 90-minute debate will start at 9 p.m. ET and will be aired on major networks and cable news channels including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, Fox News Channel, PBS, NBC, MSNBC and C-SPAN. Most of the networks will offer a way to watch the debate live online, through their apps and accounts on YouTube and other social media channels.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117617

Reported Deaths: 3302
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8011179
DeSoto721079
Harrison539884
Jackson469387
Rankin401686
Madison384394
Lee364082
Forrest309478
Jones296184
Washington260399
Lafayette253143
Lauderdale2499135
Lamar229138
Oktibbeha203755
Bolivar202877
Neshoba1861111
Lowndes181262
Panola170640
Leflore169188
Sunflower164049
Warren156056
Monroe153073
Pontotoc149020
Marshall147330
Lincoln142959
Pike140456
Copiah138736
Scott126229
Coahoma125537
Yazoo122734
Grenada122639
Simpson122349
Union119725
Tate119339
Itawamba115926
Leake115842
Pearl River115060
Holmes114960
Adams109344
Prentiss108320
Wayne102722
Alcorn102112
George101419
Covington98529
Marion95443
Tippah93123
Newton86827
Chickasaw86226
Hancock85928
Tallahatchie84626
Winston84621
Tishomingo82241
Attala80526
Clarke76353
Clay70522
Jasper69217
Walthall64127
Calhoun62713
Noxubee60117
Smith59816
Yalobusha55614
Montgomery55423
Claiborne53916
Tunica53617
Lawrence53414
Perry51223
Carroll49712
Stone48614
Greene47918
Humphreys44916
Amite42713
Quitman4216
Jefferson Davis41711
Webster37813
Benton3608
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32715
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27710
Franklin2483
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 160380

Reported Deaths: 2713
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23573377
Mobile16994316
Tuscaloosa10462140
Montgomery10352198
Madison942298
Shelby750465
Baldwin671269
Lee657165
Calhoun464761
Marshall442651
Etowah434151
Morgan422335
Houston419334
DeKalb349228
Elmore324653
St. Clair304042
Limestone293631
Walker283793
Talladega271437
Cullman255725
Lauderdale233842
Jackson219417
Autauga208231
Franklin206432
Colbert206032
Blount197225
Russell19603
Chilton190432
Dallas188127
Coffee180711
Dale178952
Covington175929
Escambia174931
Chambers136847
Clarke136617
Pike134514
Tallapoosa133987
Marion110331
Barbour10429
Marengo102622
Butler101241
Winston94013
Geneva9217
Lawrence86933
Pickens86918
Bibb85015
Randolph83516
Hale77730
Cherokee75614
Clay75312
Washington75112
Henry7236
Lowndes71628
Monroe65510
Bullock65017
Crenshaw60930
Perry5956
Fayette58913
Cleburne5739
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56513
Macon53920
Lamar5085
Sumter47421
Choctaw39312
Greene34616
Coosa2093
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