Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first presidential debate on Tuesday, said in an interview on Friday that Trump showed no signs of illness at the event.
But he also noted that Trump’s family members present at the debate did not abide by the mask mandates put in place by the Cleveland Clinic.
“The interesting thing was that the Cleveland Clinic said that everybody in the hall with the exception of the president the vice president and myself had to wear a mask,” Wallace said.
Trump’s group wore masks as they entered the hall but took them off when they sat down. According to NBC News reporters who attended the debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic tried to offer some of the group masks but was waived away.
Wallace added that Trump’s positive test will recenter the focus of the election on the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s going to raise questions again about how seriously the president has taken the coronavirus,” Wallace said.
Biden’s debate prep team expected this
As the debate unfolded, two Biden advisers directly involved with his debate prep were asked the same question: Even in your wildest debate prep sessions, did it look like this?
Both answered the same way: yes.
They knew it could get that ugly, and some of their practice sessions mirrored what we saw on stage.
What they wouldn’t say was whether Biden reacted as they hoped he would. One said Biden did, for the most part, respond in the way they practiced — to, as often as possible, turn away from Trump and speak directly into the camera.
Four takeaways from the first Trump-Biden debate
The first debate between Trump and Biden was a slugfest full of interruptions led by the president, with phases of substantive discussion and meaningful moments.
The showdown came as Biden led Trump by 8.1 points in the NBC News National Polling Average.
It was unclear that Trump made up ground in an evening during which he put his brash and petulant style on full display, seemingly to appear dominant and make Biden look weak. Trump’s approach to date has hemorrhaged support among seniors, suburban women and white college graduates, and those constituencies are likely to decide the election.
Here are four takeaways from the evening.
Fact-check: Did Trump’s trade deals shrink trade deficits with China and Mexico?
Biden, in an attempt to hit Trump on trade, said the president had negotiated new trade deals that made the country’s trade deficit with various countries worse.
That is not true.
“He’s done very little. His trade deals are the same way. He talks about these great trade deals. He talks about the art of the deal. China’s perfected the art of the steal. We have a higher deficit with China now than we did before. We have the highest trade deficit with Mexico,” Biden said
In 2016, Trump ran in part on a message that was aggressively critical of the free trade deals the U.S. had entered in the past. As president, he negotiated a new free trade deal with Mexico and Canada and, following a trade war, a preliminary “phase one” deal with China.
According to government data, the trade deficit — simply put, the net difference in the monetary value of a country’s exports and imports with another country — with China has actually fallen considerably in the years since Trump took office.
According to government data, the U.S.’s trade deficit with Mexico has risen and fallen during the Trump administration.
Fact-check: Biden says ‘Green New Deal is not my plan.’ His plan borrows heavily from it.
Biden tried to put distance between the Green New Deal — an ambitious and comprehensive environmental justice policy plan supported by progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — and his own plans to combat climate change and environmental racism and to push clean energy sources and environmental justice.
“That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan,” Biden said.
While Biden doesn’t explicitly support the Green New Deal, his own plans borrow very heavily from it — making his aggressive denials ring false.
Over the summer, Biden released a $2 trillion plan that emphasized building new energy-efficient infrastructure projects and cutting fossil fuel emissions.
Under his plan, Biden would, if elected, increase clean energy use in various areas (including transportation, electricity and buildings) and have the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. The plan would also create 10 million clean energy jobs, according to his campaign website, with a focus on renewable energy, small nuclear reactors and grid energy storage, among other initiatives.
Biden’s plans adopt many of the same pillars of the Green New Deal. One of his campaign documents even says, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” In addition, his release of the plans was celebrated by many of the same groups that had touted the Green New Deal.
Biden’s plans would, however, omit some of the Green New Deal’s more controversial elements, such as “Medicare for All,” a federal jobs guarantee and a strict zero carbon emissions mandate.
Biden reacts to Proud Boys remark: ‘This is Donald Trump’s America’
Twitter users have some ideas for who could moderate the next debate
The view from Trumpworld tonight
Unsurprisingly, Team Trump is casting the evening as a success for the president and seeking to sow confusion about his “stand back and stand by” comment. It’s also enthusiastic about doing more debates and leaning heavily into criticism of those suggesting there shouldn’t be any more.
Of the Proud Boys non-denunciation, allies are trying to create confusion: Donald Trump Jr. appeared on CBS and tried to claim that the president said “stand down.” When corrected, Trump Jr. claimed that it might have been a “misspeak” and said, “He’s talking about having them stand down.” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh also tried to say it was “stand down.”
Another campaign aide was pleased that the Trump tax investigation story wasn’t prominently featured. Some Trump allies are also playing up how Biden didn’t name a law enforcement group that supports him, as well as his court-packing non-answer and his response on the coronavirus and the economy, and they’re defending the president’s behavior as simply a way of defending himself. And there’s plenty of blame-the-ref talk, too, slamming Chris Wallace.
Still, a campaign adviser noted that no one really knows how this is going to play out with voters yet, acknowledging that it’s going to take a day or so to see how it shakes out across America.
Fact-check: Biden says 1 in 1,000 Black Americans have been killed by coronavirus
Biden claimed earlier in the evening that “1 in 1,000 African Americans” have “been killed because of the coronavirus” and that “if he [Trump] doesn’t do something quickly, by the end of the year, 1 in 500 will have been killed.”
There is no question that Black Americans have been more severely affected by Covid-19 than whites — even the administration’s public health agency agrees that Black Americans are disproportionately affected. A number of analyses and studies show that people of color in America have been hit harder by the coronavirus and are more likely to know someone who has died from it.
Biden appears to be referring a recent study from APM Research Lab found that the Covid-19 death rate for Blacks is 1 in 1,020 (97.9 deaths per 100,000). The report notes that “if they had died of COVID-19 at the same actual rate as White Americans, about 20,800 Black, 10,900 Latino, 700 Indigenous, and 80 Pacific Islander Americans would still be alive.”
But the study doesn’t address how the disparity in death rates will change by the end of the year. NBC News has reached out to the Biden campaign for additional information.