Christal Hayes, NewsyBag
Published 10:35 p.m. ET Sept. 29, 2020 | Updated 10:41 p.m. ET Sept. 29, 2020
WASHINGTON – The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden quickly went off the rails Tuesday evening, including when the pair debated the use of masks and holding large political rallies amid COVID-19.
Asked why he continues to hold large rallies against the advice of his own health experts, Trump responded: “Because people want to hear what I have to say.”
He claimed that his rallies have had no negative effect on Americans, explaining “so far, we have had no problem whatsoever.”
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Trump suggested that Biden would do the same thing in holding large rallies if he could but “nobody will show up.”
He said Biden “does the circles with three people some place,” referring to the small, socially distant events he holds.
“If you could get the crowds, you would do the same,” Trump told the former vice president.
Biden slammed Trump for the way he has responded to the coronavirus pandemic and specifically criticized his reluctance to wear a face mask in public.
“He has been totally irresponsible in the way he has handled the social distancing, the people wearing masks – basically encouraging them not to,” Biden said. “He’s a fool on this.”
“He’s not worried about the people,” Biden added.
The pair also clashed on wearing masks, with Trump claiming he supported wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but pointing out that experts have offered differing advice on the issue.
“I have a mask right here,” Trump said, pulling a mask out of his pocket. “I put a mask on when I think I need it.”
Trump criticized Biden for frequently wearing a mask and disputed an academic estimate that broader mask-wearing would save lives.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask.”
Biden cited an academic study and the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimated masks had the potential to save 100,000 lives by the end of the year.
“Masks make a big difference,” Biden said. “We’d probably save 100,000 lives.”
Trump disputed the estimate. “They’ve also said the opposite,” he said.
“No serious person said the opposite,” Biden replied.
Contributing: Bart Jansen, Ledge King and Michael Collins
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