The first US Presidential debate between Democrat Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump devolved into chaos and acrimonious exchanges, with no clear winner at the end. Things got so bad at one point that Biden told Trump to "shut up" in an opening debate that turned almost immediately into a shouting match 35 days ahead of a tense US election.
The debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio was as bad-tempered as had been feared, with Trump leading the way in yelling over his challenger and the Fox News moderator Chris Wallace alike.
There was no handshake as the two men took the stage and while this was due to Covid-19 restrictions, one was left to wonder after the event whether the two candidates would have even shaken hands in normal times.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News struggled to maintain control as he peppered the candidates with questions about the Supreme Court, the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and more. He repeatedly admonished the president for speaking over Biden and disregarding the rules both sides had agreed to.
The president attacked his Democratic rival and his family, invoking his son Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine and bringing up the younger Biden's history of drug abuse.
Biden called Trump "the worst president America has ever had," blaming him for bungling the response to the pandemic and fueling racial divisions amid recent protests against police brutality.
Indian-origin Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris lambasted Trump’s performance in the first presidential debate.
In an interview after the debate, Harris told viewers of CBS that she believes Trump “really denigrated the office of the president of the United States as much as he has done over the course of the last four years”.
"Tonight, President Trump is going to take our case to the American people. He's going to take the fight straight to Joe Biden," Republican Vice-President Mike Pence said in a Fox News interview before the debate.
Trump and Biden are scheduled to meet next in two weeks, on October 15, for the second debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, a week after the Vice-Presidential debate to be held in the same city.