The exchange was one of many fiery back-and-forths on Tuesday — and a kind of punctuation mark on months of attacks between the Democratic nominee and the president, who has boasted of being a historic commander-in-chief

By Virginia Chamlee
September 30, 2020 12:37 AM
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In one of many ever-spikier exchanges on Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump on Tuesday of being ″the worst president America has ever had″ during the first debate of the 2020 election season.

The remark came after moderator Chris Wallace referenced a New York Times report which found that Trump, 74, paid a total of $750 in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017, thanks to a nearly $10 million tax credit partially connected to a hotel project in Washington, D.C. (Trump has insisted the the Times' reporting is "fake news.")

″Is it true that you paid $750 in federal income taxes?″ Wallace asked of Trump.

Disputing the report, Trump claimed he had actually paid ″millions of dollars in taxes.″

″Show us your tax returns,″ Biden, 77, interjected.

Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump at Tuesday night's debate
| Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

Saying the public would ″see it as soon as it's finished,″ Trump added that he ″[doesn't] want to pay tax,″ but that his tax decisions have been smart.

When asked to respond, Biden said that Trump ″takes advantage of the tax code″ and that he would eliminate the tax codes a president and invest in people who ″need help.″

″Why didn't you do it over the last 25 years?″ Trump asked.

Biden responded: “Because you were president screwing things up. "You’re the worst president America has ever had, c’mon."

Trump shot back that he had ″done more in 47 months than you’ve done in 47 years, Joe.″ (Trump has also often boasted of being a historically good commander-in-chief, particularly for Black people.)

Tuesday was the first face-off between the candidates and descended almost as soon as it began into a series of interruptions, interjections and insults — with President Trump hectoring and talking over Biden so often that Wallace had to urge him to remember the rules of the debate.

Almost as soon as the race began, Trump has assailed Biden at every turn — particularly as both mentally enfeebled and as as a puppet for left-wing lawmakers — while Biden has built his campaign on spotlighting the administration's response to COVID-19, fanning unrest amidst protests regarding police violence and promising to maintain the Affordable Care Act.

Trump continued his divisive rhetoric throughout the debate, with Biden — no less disdainful — often interjecting ″shut up″ or ″shush″ and disparaging Trump's behavior as he tried to interrupt.

At one point during the exchange, Biden said, ″It’s hard to get any word in with this clown."