The first presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden was consumed by cross talk, with the president interrupting Biden so often that the former vice president at one point snapped: “Would you shut up, man?”
In one instance, Trump interrupted Biden more than 10 times during a 3-minute exchange about health care.
Chris Wallace, the debate’s moderator, in a question directed at Biden, noted that Biden would like to add a public option to Obamacare, which Trump and Republicans argue would end private insurance and create a “government takeover of health care,” Wallace said. The men even interrupted Wallace as he attempted to ask the question.
As Biden began to explain how the public component of the program would work, Trump interrupted him to claim Biden “agreed with Bernie Sanders’s far left on the ‘manifesto’ we call it that gives you socialized medicine.”
“The fact of the matter is,” Biden responded, “I beat Bernie Sanders. I beat him by a whole hell of a lot. I’m here standing, facing you, old buddy.”
“Not by much,” the president interjected. “If Pocahontas would have left two days earlier you would have lost every primary on Super Tuesday,” Trump continued, using a sexist and racist slur to refer to Senator Elizabeth Warren. “You got very lucky.”
“I got very lucky. I’m going to get very lucky tonight as well," Biden said.
“With what?” the president interrupted.
It only got worse from there.
The exchange set the tone for the evening, as the candidates continued to talk over each other, and Wallace struggled to regain control, asking both men multiple times to let the other finish without interruption.
Trump continued to interject when Biden tried to answer other questions.
“Would you shut up, man?” Biden asked Trump after the president repeatedly interrupted Biden as he responded to a question about expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court.
“This is so unpresidential,” Biden said, continuing sarcastically, “That was really a productive segment, wasn’t it? Keep yappin', man.”
As Pres. Trump repeatedly interrupts Joe Biden, Biden says, "Will you shut up, man?"— ABC News (@ABC) September 30, 2020
"That was really a productive segment, wasn't it?" Biden says sarcastically. "Keep yappin', man." https://t.co/5Bl4Ob3O2t #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/XvNahLC1Rm
During another exchange, Wallace asked the president to “let [Biden] answer."
“Mr. President, please stop,” Wallace said when Trump started to interject again.
When Wallace told Biden he got the final word in that segment, Biden replied: “Well, it’s hard to get any word in with this clown. Excuse me, this person."
"Mr. President, let him answer!"— ABC News (@ABC) September 30, 2020
"Mr. President, please stop."
Moderator Chris Wallace repeatedly tries to keep Pres. Trump from interrupting Joe Biden.
"It's hard to get any word in with this clown," Biden says, "excuse me, this person." https://t.co/5Bl4Ob3O2t #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/4wjCUTdzns
At one point, Wallace paused the exchange to appeal to both candidates to let each other finish their thoughts.
“I think the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Wallace said.
Amanda Kaufman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.