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'A hot mess inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck': World reacts to chaotic first U.S. presidential debate

Elisabetta Bianchini
·5-min read

A “circus,” a “dumpster fire” and “chaos” are all words that have been used to describe the first U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

“That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck. That was the worst debate I have ever seen,” CNN host Jake Tapper said seconds after the event ended. “In fact, it wasn’t even a debate, it was a disgrace.” Tapper later added, “The American people lost tonight, because that was horrific.

The night was off to a very disorderly starts with frequent interruptions, identified by moderator Chris Wallace as largely coming from the U.S. president, making it next to impossible to follow the discussion on topics like health care, climate change, race, voting and the Supreme Court.

As expected, many people took to social media during and after the debate to express their opinions on various parts of Tuesday night’s event.

One of the strongest criticisms of Trump came as the U.S. president refused to condemn white supremacists, when asked by Wallace.

“I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing,” Trump said. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”

“Proud Boys. Stand back and stand by.”

Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris called the U.S. president’s comments “a dog whistle through a bullhorn.”

Trump also mocked Biden for how frequently he wears a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every time you see him, he's got a mask,” Trump said. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from it and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen.”

Another point that got people particularly fired up was when the debate pivoted to a discussion about Biden’s sons, Hunter and Beau.

“What did he [Hunter] do with Burisma?” Trump said, alluding to Hunter’s business dealing with the Ukrainian energy company.

“Why is it...the mayor of Moscow's wife gave your son $3.5 million?” a question the U.S. president went on to pose to Biden after an investigation by Senate Republicans reported the claim.

Biden brought up a report from the The Atlantic that claimed that Trump called fallen military members “losers” and “suckers.”

“My son was in Iraq, he spent a year there....He was not a loser. He was a patriot, and the people left behind there were heroes,” Biden said, speaking about his late son Beau who died in 2015 after suffering a brain tumour.

“I don't know Beau, I know Hunter,” Trump said in response.

Biden went on to acknowledge that Hunter has had his issues with substance abuse but said “I'm proud of him, I'm proud of my son.”

Canadians speak out

Following the lengthy debate Canadians, in particular, took to social media to comment on the event from the perspective of a neighbour of the U.S.