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Aside from a bevy of personal attacks, misinformation and chaotic interruption, Trump regularly waded into racist tropes and outright refused to condemn violent right-wing militia groups as moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News sought to ask the candidates about COVID-19, the nation’s summer of racial justice protests and their support for Americans of colour.
Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” again.
The president, long known for using insulting nicknames for his political opponents, questioned Tuesday if Biden would have won the Democratic nomination if Senator Elizabeth Warren hadn’t dropped out.
“If Pocahontas would have left [the race] two days earlier,” Trump said, Biden wouldn’t have been on the debate stage.
He once more refused to condemn right-wing extremist groups.
Wallace asked Trump directly to condemn white supremacists and right-wing militia groups during the debate, but the president repeatedly dodged the invitation, instead lambasting Democrats and social justice protesters.
“I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” Trump said when asked about the protests demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
“Who would you like me to condemn? The Proud Boys?” Trump asked when Wallace pressed the president to condemn such groups. “Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”
The Daily Beast reported that the Proud Boys were already celebrating the name check by the president on social media.
He continued to call COVID-19 the “China plague.”
Trump has regularly sought to distance his response to the COVID-19 crisis and the more than 200,000 people who have died in the U.S. by blaming the pandemic on China.
He did so again during the debate, repeatedly referring to the virus as the “China plague.”
He suggested a Biden presidency would threaten suburbia.
Trump repeated a broad, and false, claim that a Biden presidency would threaten American suburbs, saying that if the former vice president is elected, “our suburbs would be gone.”
Biden fired back at Trump’s statement, saying, “This is not 1950. All these dog whistles are not working anymore.”
“What really is a threat to the suburbs and the safety is his failure to deal with COVID,” the former vice president said.
Trump said anti-racist training initiatives were “racist.”
The president said Tuesday night that he’d pushed a recent widening of a ban on racial sensitivity training because he believed the programs were “racist.”
“If you were a certain person, you had no status in life. It was sort of a reversal,” Trump said. “And if you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and, frankly, very sick ideas.”
Biden shot back, saying nobody had done so, adding about Trump: “He’s a racist.”
Earlier this month, the White House issued a memo to federal agencies ordering them to end the trainings, declaring them “un-American propaganda” and ordering the government to stop spending millions of dollars on the “divisive … propaganda training sessions.”