Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The incendiary topics Joe Biden and Donald Trump will discuss during tonight’s presidential debate

Published Sep 29th, 2020 8:10PM EDT
Presidentail Debate 2020
Image: Al Drago - Pool via CNP/MEGA

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • The first presidential debate of 2020 is scheduled for Tuesday, at 9:00 p.m. ET in Ohio.
  • President Trump will face off against Joe Biden in a debate moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
  • The 90-minute face-off will consist of six 15-minute segments dedicated to six major topics, including the coronavirus health crisis, the economy, race and violence, and the Supreme Court.

The first 90-minute confrontation between President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled for 9:00 PM EST on Tuesday, with five weeks to go until Election Day. Fox News’ Chris Wallace will moderate the first presidential debate, whose rules have already been laid out days in advance of the event.

Wallace has selected the topics for the discussion that will take place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio and the list includes some of the most pressing matters affecting the US.

Trump and Biden have been sparring for months from a distance, with each of them taking indirect hits at their opponent. The 2020 presidential race has been an unusual one, taking a backseat to the massive ongoing health crisis. The novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted every aspect of life, including the election. Social distancing measures impact the rallies, a staple for Trump’s previous election run, as gatherings of crowds indoors are not allowed or advised at this time.

COVID-19 is unsurprisingly one of the main topics of the first presidential debate, as the pandemic had dominated the news cycle for months. Biden has often criticized Trump’s management of the crisis, with the president often downplaying the effects of the illness. Recent revelations from Bob Woodward’s newest book on Trump showed the president played down the virus intentionally. Trump told Woodward he did it willingly, to avoid a panic.

The economy is inevitably a hot debate topic during any election, especially a presidential one. But this year, the economy is directly tied to the health crisis. Millions of people lost their jobs in the first month of the pandemic, as many states imposed lockdowns to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Both candidates will likely present their vision to hasten the recovery of the economy for the months to come, as the world prepares to enter in the second year of the pandemic.

Trump vs Biden
Joe Biden speaking at the DNC. Image source: Democratic National Convention via CNP/MEGA

The wave of protests against police brutality and the violence associated with some of them will be another important topic of the evening. The George Floyd murder in late May sparked nationwide protests over racism and police brutality, and the events that followed further fueled demonstrations, like the shooting of Jacob Blake and the Breonna Taylor verdict. Trump continued to support a tough answer to violence, refusing to call for police reform, as Biden and many of his opponents did.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a few weeks ago turned the Supreme Court nomination into another significant battle between Republicans and Democrats. Trump has already appointed two justices in nearly four years, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The president announced a few days ago his nomination for Ginsburg’s vacancy, Amy Coney Barrett, just as Republicans scrambled to defend the appointment of a Supreme Court judge in a presidential election year. The GOP blocked President Obama’s Merrick Garland nomination in 2016, arguing that the next president should nominate a replacement for Antonin Scalia.

The Supreme Court battle is of significant importance for Trump, who questioned this year’s election process for months, claiming that voting by mail would favor fraud. Trump said recently that the Supreme Court would need a full roster to rule on any election-related issues. The integrity of the election is also one of the major topics of tonight’s presidential debate.

The records of Trump and Biden is the sixth confirmed topic of the debate, which will tie directly into some of the previous ones. Trump’s first term performance will come under fire, including the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and the widespread protests of 2020. The New York Times’ bombshell report about Trump’s taxes could also fall under this topic. Over on the other side, Biden might have to defend against corruption allegations that have targeted his son, as well as his overall health and state of mind. Trump has often criticized Biden’s acumen while praising his own wits.

Per the rules of the debate, other topics might make it in, pending new developments. The format will include six 15-minute segments dedicated to the significant topics, without commercial interruption.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.