US Election 2020: Joe Biden and Donald Trump face off in the first Presidential debate

Joe Biden and Donald Trump were in Cleveland, Ohio going head to head in the first presidential debate of 2020.

The Democratic and Republican candidates were trying to win over voters ahead of the US election, which is only 35 days away on November 3.

The debate began at 2pm NZT (9pm Tues ET) and was hosted by Fox News journalist and registered Democrat Chris Wallace.

It's the first of three presidential debates and one vice-presidential which will take place over the coming weeks.

What you need to know:

  • The debate was 90 minutes long and will comprise six 15 minute segments, each focusing on a specific topic
  • The topics: The Supreme Court, Trump and Biden's records, the coronavirus pandemic, race protests and violence in cities, election integrity, and the economy
  • Biden released his 2019 tax returns on Wednesday morning and urged Trump to do the same 
  • Biden's campaign has set up a fact-checking Twitter account @truth which is expected to call out false claims during the debate
  • Trump has arrived in the "great state of Ohio" ahead of the debate. He said on Twitter that a poll currently has him ahead in the state
  • Newshub's published a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about the upcoming election on November 3.

These live updates have now finished.

Donald Trump and Melania Trump leave the stage.
Donald Trump and Melania Trump leave the stage. Photo credit: Getty
Joe Biden and his wife Jill leave the stage.
Joe Biden and his wife Jill leave the stage. Photo credit: Getty

3:40pm - After 90 minutes, the debate has wrapped up. Biden and Trump have left the stage with their wives.

"That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck," CNN anchor Jake Tapper said. "That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn't even a debate. It was a disgrace. And it's primarily because of President Trump."

CNN correspondent Dana Bash summed it up as "a shitshow".

George Stephanopoulos from ABC News said the debate was "the worst presidential debate I've ever seen in my life".

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace (C) at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

3:34pm - Wallace asked Trump and Biden why Americans should be confident the 2020 election will be a fair election, and what they are doing to reassure Americans.

Biden said there would be millions of people voting by mail-in ballots, and he will ensure those Americans who do want to vote in person, can.

He said Trump is trying to scare people into thinking the outcome won't be legitimate. Biden said if he wins or loses the election, he will accept it.

But Trump said the mail-in ballots were a "disaster", claiming the election will see fraud "like we've never seen".

He said the result of the election might not be known for months.

Trump claimed some states have seen evidence of mail-in voting not working, all of which he said were democratic states.

But Biden hit back saying Trump was "afraid of counting to votes" in case they weren't in his favour.

3:25pm - Trump launched into an attack on Biden's son Hunter for his business activities and past drug use.

Biden admitted Hunter had struggled with drug abuse but said he was "proud" of his son for working to overcome the addiction.

The debate moved onto the fires which have ripped through the eastern United States, Trump said: "it's burning down due to a lack of management".

He said they need "good forest management" as a flicker of flame could put forests in California up in flames.

Biden said it was important for the United States to join the Paris Accord which Trump pulled out of in 2017.

 Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. Photo credit: Getty

3:09pm - Wallace asked the candidates if they support the Black Lives Matter call for changing the police system.

"I'm totally opposed to defunding the police officers," Biden said. "They need more assistance, they need someone when they turn up to a 911 call to have a psychologist."

But Trump said Biden is about defunding the police. He asked Biden to name one law enforcement group who supports Biden. 

Biden didn't reply.

3:04pm - The debate has moved onto the issue of race protests and violence. 

Black Lives Matter protests took off around the United States in May after the death of George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

Wallace asked the candidates why voters should trust them with race issues.

Biden said Trump had "walked away" from trying to create equality.

"There is systemic injustice in this country."

When asked if the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor's should be held accountable, Biden replied: "The majority of officers are good, decent, honourable men. But there are some bad apples.. they need to be held accountable."

2:50pm - Biden accused Trump of failing to help small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the country is seeing a 'K' shaped recovery from the virus, meaning the wealthiest Americans are benefitting while average Americans are struggling.

2:45pm- Wallace questioned Trump if it is true that he only paid US$750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.

"I paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions in income taxes," Trump said.

Biden called for Trump to show some evidence.

Trump replied: "You'll see it as soon as it's finished".

Biden hit back that Trump is "the worst president America has ever had".

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

2:38pm - Donald Trump's twitter account tweeted two minutes ago as the debate moves onto the United States economy.

On stage, Trump said Biden would ruin the economy by shutting down businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"They have got to open these states up," Trump said. "It's not fair. You are talking about almost being in prison."

"He [Biden] will destroy our country."

Biden rebutted: "You can't fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis".

2:32pm - Biden has slammed Trump for saying the country's high death toll "it is what it is".

Biden claimed Trump waited and waited to tell the country about the extent of the pandemic and he still didn't have a plan.

He claimed Trump wasn't smart, which Trump took offence to.

"There is nothing smart about you Joe," Trump said. "47 years and you've done nothing."

2:30pm- The debate has now moved on to COVID-19. 

Trump claimed "it was China's fault" and said the United States is now "weeks away" from a vaccination which can protect residents against the virus.

He said the military is all set up to deliver it. "They can do 200,000 a day."

"You could've never done the job that we did [with COVID-19]," Trump told Biden.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

2:20pm- The debate has got off to a fiery start with Trump talking over host Chris Wallace when pressed over his healthcare plan.

Biden then hit out at Trump. "I'm not here to call out the lies, everybody knows he's a liar," Biden said.

Trump however said Obamacare was "no good". "Obamacare is no good, we made it better".

But Biden said Trump has "no plan for healthcare, he sends out wishful thinking. He's been promising a healthcare plan since he's been elected".

"This man doesn't know what he's talking about," Biden said.

2:12pm - Biden has said it is not appropriate to elect a new Supreme Court Justice during the US election. He said a new candidate should be chosen after the election in February.

But Trump argued: "We won the election, and therefore we have the right to choose her".

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18 and Trump has picked Amy Coney Barrett to replace her.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: Eric Trump and Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump arrive for the first presidential debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

2:05pm- Trump and Biden have taken to the stage and will first speak on the Supreme Court.

2:04pm- The audience is now waiting in anticipation for Biden and Trump to take to the stage.

1:58pm - The families of Donald Trump and Joe Biden have entered the debate room and Chris Wallace has taken to the stage.

1:57pm - Biden has arrived at the Samson Pavilion, where the deabte will take place, The Guardian is reporting. Trump is also at the venue and getting ready.

Chris Wallace is expected to take to the stage soon and go over the ground rules for the debate.

1:50pm -The first presidential debate is only 10 minutes away. Spectators are currently being welcomed to the debate which is set to begin at 2pm.

Biden and Trump will be debating for 90 minutes on six different topics. They are:

  • The Supreme Court
  • Trump and Biden's records
  • The coronavirus pandemic
  • Race protests and violence in cities
  • Election integrity
  • The economy

1:40pm - The debate comes as New York City recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as the city attempts to ease lockdown restrictions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the daily positive test rate of 3.25 percent, which was the highest since June. 

"That is cause for real concern," de Blasio told reporters.

Read the full story here.

1:35pm - Donald Trump is on his way to the debate venue, Bloomberg's White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted.

1:30pm - Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Wade Park ahead of the debate. Police stopped one man from selling t-shirts during the protest.

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 29: Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Wade Park to protest for Black lives and against U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate, hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, will be moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. This is the first of three planned debates between President Trump and former Vice President, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty
Police officers in Wade Park.
Police officers in Wade Park. Photo credit: Getty

1:15pm - The first presidential debate is being held at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It's the first of three debates taking place in the lead up to the election on November 3. 

The other debates are:

  • Vice presidential debate: Harris and Pence will face off in the only vice presidential debate on October 8, 12pm (NZT) in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will be moderated by Susan Page from USA Today.

  • Second presidential debate: Trump and Biden will debate again on October 16, 2pm (NZT), at a performing arts centre in Miami, Florida. Steve Scully of C-SPAN Networks is set to moderate the debate.

  • Third presidential debate: In their final chance to win over voters, Trump and Biden will take to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee. NBC's White House correspondent Kristen Welker will be hosting the debate on October 23, 1pm (NZT).

The debate stage.
The debate stage. Photo credit: Getty
The stage at Western Reserve University is being prepared for the debate.
The stage at Western Reserve University is being prepared for the debate. Photo credit: Getty

1pm - On Wednesday morning Biden publicly released his tax returns and urged Trump to do the same.

This comes two days after the New York Times reported Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 - and none in 10 of the previous 15 years.

"This is a historic level of transparency meant to give the American people faith once again that their leaders will look out for them and not their own bottom lines," Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said.

"Mr President, release your tax returns or shut up."

Read the full story here.

12:40pm - The first presidential debate is set to kick off at 2pm NZT. Trump and  Biden arrived in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday morning. The candidates are now in the final preparation stages with just over an hour to go.

Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden arrived at Burke Lakefront Airport on Wednesday.
Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden arrived at Burke Lakefront Airport on Wednesday. Photo credit: Getty