Democrat Joe Biden defended himself in Tuesday's presidential debate against charges he isn't tough enough on protests that have turned violent.
Biden said he is not in public office and does not have the power to call the National Guard to help cities, but President Donald Trump countered mayors in his own party run those cities and have rejected his offers to send in the Guard.
Biden said such violence "should be prosecuted."
Trump said Biden never called for the leaders in Portland to ask for help during more than 100 days of riots.
"Because they can, in fact, just take care of it if he (Trump) would just stay out of the way," Biden said.
On other topics:
Biden said he does not support the Green New Deal, but the "Biden Plan," to which Trump replied, "Oh, that is a big statement."
Trump said during Tuesday night's debate he paid "millions of dollars" in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, and not the $750 The New York Times reported he paid during those years.
Pressed on the issue by debate moderator Chris Wallace, Trump insisted he paid "millions" during those two years, adding, "And you will get to see it."
The question came during a segment discussing the economy.
Trump reiterated his common point that the economy was booming under his administration before the coronavirus struck at the beginning of the year, then was crippled with shutdowns across the country.
He has since pushed for openings to help with the recovery.
Biden defended his proposal to raise taxes by $4 trillion on those making more that $400,000 a year -- plan he says will create 7 million more jobs.
Trump says the plan will actually hurt the economy as it is coming out a recession.
Trump and Biden sparred early in Tuesday's first presidential debate over healthcare and the Supreme Court with Trump telling Biden at one point, "You just lost the left."
In discussion over Biden's plan Trump interrupted, saying Biden was in agreement with Bernie Sanders, who identifies as a Democratic Socialist.
"You just lost the left," Trump said. "You agreed with Bernie Sanders on a plan -- socialized medicine."
Trump, Biden countered, "is not for helping any people needing healthcare."
As moderator Chris Wallace ended the bickering and said they were moving on to another segment, Biden said, "That was a really productive segment."
"People understood it, Joe," Trump shot back.
The segment began with a question on Trump's nominaton of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the waning weeks of the election.
Trump made his case that "We won the election. Elections have consequences."
Democrats, he said, would have chosen their own pick to replace the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg if they held the presidency and the Senate, but they don't.
Vice President Joe Biden agreed that Trump's nominee Barrett "seems like a very fine person," but "we are in the middle of an election" and the American people should have a say.
“I was not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years," Trump insisted he had every right to select Barrett to replace Ginsburg.
The debate was filled with contention and name-calling. breaking down after just a few Trump interrupted Biden on several occasions and Biden called the president a clown and a liar.
Trump and Biden arrived in Cleveland hoping the debate would energize their bases of support, even as they competed for the slim slice of undecided voters who could decide the election. It has been generations since two men asked to lead a nation facing such tumult, with Americans both fearful and impatient about the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 of their fellow citizens and cost millions of jobs.
The pandemic’s effects were in plain sight, with the candidates’ lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped. The men did not shake hands and, while neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings.
“How you doin', man?" Biden asked the president as they entered.
With just 35 days until the election, and early voting already underway in some states, Biden stepped onto the stage holding leads in the polls — significant in national surveys, close in some battleground states — and looking to expand his support among suburban voters, women and seniors. Surveys show the president has lost significant ground among those groups since 2016, but Biden faces his own questions encouraged by Trump’s withering attacks.
Trump had arguably his best chance to try to reframe the campaign as a choice between candidates and not a referendum over his handling of the virus that has killed more people in America than any other nation. Americans, according to polling, have soured on his leadership in the crisis, and the president has struggled to land consistent attacks on Biden.
Leaving the White House for Cleveland, Trump pumped his fist for supporters gathered on the White House lawn but did not address reporters. He spent the morning in informal debate preparations while a more formal session was set for the afternoon once he arrived in Ohio. Biden held an umbrella to ward off the Delaware rain as he boarded a new, bigger campaign plane en route to Cleveland. He, too, did not address reporters.
Though some Trump aides involved in the preparations urged the president to adopt a measured tone while selling his own accomplishments, Trump had told advisers he was preparing an all-out assault on Biden, claiming that the former senator’s 47 years in Washington have left him out of touch and that his family, namely his son Hunter, has benefited from corruption.
Biden’s performances during the primary debates were uneven, and some Democrats have been nervous as to how he would fare in an unscripted setting. But his team also viewed the night as a chance to illuminate Trump’s failings with the pandemic and economy, with the former vice president acting as a “fact checker on the floor” while bracing himself for the onslaught that was coming.
The tumult of 2020 was difficult to overstate: COVID-19 has rewritten the rules of everyday life; racial justice protests have swept into cities after several highly publicized killings of Black people by police, and the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg allowed Trump to nominate a conservative jurist to replace a liberal voice and perhaps reshape the high court for generations.
But the impact of the debate — and the two to follow — remained unclear. Despite the upheaval, the presidential race has seemed largely unchanged since Biden seized control of the Democratic field in March and opened a steady lead over Trump.
Both sides looked to one-up each other in the hours before the debate.
Biden released his 2019 tax returns just days after the blockbuster revelations about Trump’s long-hidden tax history, including that he paid only $750 a year in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in many other years. The Bidens paid nearly $300,000 in taxes in 2019.
Meanwhile, trying to hammer home a claim that Biden is not up to the job of president, Trump’s campaign pushed out a number of pre-debate accusations, including that the former vice president asked for numerous breaks during the 90-minute debate and had backed out of a search meant to rule out that either man was wearing an earpiece from which he could be fed answers.
The Biden campaign denied the accusations and, in a conference call Tuesday afternoon, chided reporters for biting on a Trump gambit.
“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” Biden senior campaign adviser Symone Sanders said. “Is this what you all would really like to spend your time on, these false, crazy, random, ridiculous assertions by the Trump campaign?”
The president’s handling of the coronavirus was likely to dominate much of the debate. The pandemic’s effects were in plain sight, with the candidates’ lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped.
The scene in Cleveland was notably understated compared to typical election years, with none of the pomp and pageantry. Instead of the usual auditorium, the debate was held in an atrium on Case Western University's campus — one that had been temporarily converted into a COVID-19 hospital this spring — and signs were placed on two of every three three chairs reading, “Thank you for not sitting here in observance of social distancing.”
Lemire reported from New York. Additional reporting by Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Cleveland and Zeke Miller in Washington.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.