Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

This debate was like the country: Everybody’s talking. Nobody’s listening. Nothing is learned. It’s a mess.

  • We were told President Trump would be savage. Turned out, that was a gross understatement. Even the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, got bulldozed.

Why it matters: Honestly, who the hell knows?

  • It was a hot mess of name-calling and rude interruptions, wildly out of control and incoherent.

Between the lines: The debate was, at times, totally incomprehensible.

  • Trump ignored the rules and the debate went off the rails.
  • At literally no point was there an agreed-upon baseline of facts upon which to debate policy.
  • Just a series of claims, lies, denials, and — from Trump — attacks on Biden’s son, Hunter.

The two broke into open insults. Trump: "Don't ever use the word 'smart' with me. ... There's nothing smart about you, Joe."

  • Biden: "The fact is this man doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ... This guy is something. ... He's Putin's puppy."

From the beginning, the two talked over each other, with Trump at times ignoring Biden and speaking directly to the camera, commentating on the debate. A real issue — the leftward tug of today's Democratic Party on Biden, a career-long centrist — quickly degenerated:

  • Trump: "Your party wants to go socialist medicine and socialist health care. And they’re going to dominate you — Joe, you know that."
  • Biden: "I am the Democratic Party right now."
  • Trump: "Not according to Harris" — the president using just the last name of Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate.

While Biden was talking, Trump took over the moderator's duty and started asking — and even answering questions:

  • "Are you going to pack the court? ... Who's on your list [for Supreme Court], Joe? ... He's gonna pack the court and he's not gonna give a list."

Biden blurted: "Will you shut up, man? … This is so unpresidential."

  • Biden, making a talk-talk motion: "Keep yappin', man."

What to watch: Advisers to Trump and Biden each said their candidates remain committed to appearing in the remaining debates.

Go deeper ... Pundits react to a chaotic debate: “What a dark event we just witnessed”

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker library

Biden pledges effort to reunite separated immigrant children with their families

In a new ad, Joe Biden pledges to sign an executive order to form a task force dedicated to finding the parents of 545 children separated from their families at the southern border.

Why it matters: The Biden campaign is focusing on Latino voters just days before the election. The campaign had previously launched an ad focused on the family separations at the border called "Números."

Oct 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's China plan: Bring allies

Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden is planning to confront China across the globe, embracing some of President Trump's goals but rejecting his means.

The big picture: By starting a trade war with China, Trump has fundamentally altered the U.S.- China relationship — and forced both Republicans and Democrats to accept a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.