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Presidential debate: Key quotes from the first Biden-Trump showdown

While the tumultuous first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden was scarred by incessant interruptions -- mostly by Mr Trump -- both candidates managed to deliver several key quotes that gave viewers some semblance of where they stand on the issues of the day.

The coronavirus is still raging, the economy is still in recession, and demonstrations against racial justice are still leading to tense confrontations between white supremacist groups and left-wing anarchists that have distracted from the largely peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Make no mistake: Mr Biden unleashed his fair share of personal zingers against Mr Trump in frustration over the endless personal taunts, attacks, and interruptions from the president.

There will be plenty more where that came from, as the candidates are slated for two more debates before Election Day on 3 November.

From good, to bad, to ugly, here are the key quotes from the first one:


Mr Trump once again touted his administration's decision to restrict travel from China, which officials have falsely called a wholesale travel "ban."

Trump: "You didn't think we should've closed our country [to China] because you thought it was terrible. ... We've done a great job. But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we've done. You don't have it in your blood."

Mr Biden hit Mr Trump for saying this summer "it is what it is" regarding the American death toll from Covid-19, which has surpassed 200,000 this month.

Biden: "It is what it is because you are who you are. That's why it is. The president has no plan."

Black lives

When asked to make their pitches to black voters, Mr Biden pulled out astonishing statistics about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected black communities.

Biden: "You talk about helping African Americans -- 1 in 1,000 African Americans has been killed because of the coronavirus. ... And if he doesn't do something quickly, by the end of the year, 1 in 500 will have been killed. 1 in 500 African Americans. ... This man is the savior of African Americans? This man cares at all? This man's done virtually nothing. Look, the fact is, you have to look at what he talks about. You have to look at what he did, and what he did has been disastrous for the African American community."

Mr Trump focused on Mr Biden's support for the 1994 crime bill that led to increased incarceration rates among black men.

Trump: "You have treated the black community about as bad as anybody in this country."

Law enforcement

Mr Trump taunted Mr Biden for not receiving endorsements from law enforcement groups, even though hundreds of current and former law enforcement officials have backed the former vice president.

Trump: "Name one law enforcement group that has come out and supported you. One. Think. We have time."

He later challenged Mr Biden to say the words "law and order."

Trump: "The top 10 cities and just about the top 40 cities are run by Democrats in many cases, radical left, and they've got you wrapped around their finger, Joe, to a point where you don't want to say anything about law and order. And I'll tell you what the people of this country want and demand law and order, and you're afraid to even say it."

Mr Biden accepted the challenge, and appeared to stumble into a succinct mantra for his campaign message on the issue.

Biden: "Law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly."


Mr Trump repeatedly interrupted his Democratic opponent, which clearly got under his skin.

Biden: "Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential. ... Keep yapping, man."

The former vice president even resorted to name-calling to deal with the taunts.

Biden: "Folks, do you have any idea what this clown is doing?"

When the president squabbled with debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News about the interruptions, arguing Mr Biden had also interrupted him at times, Mr Wallace put his thumb on the scale.

Wallace: "Frankly, you've been doing more interrupting."

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