Trump is controlling tonight’s debate — that doesn’t mean he’s winning it

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate against former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Morry Gash/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden offered starkly different versions of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

When both candidates were asked about the handling of the pandemic during the debate, Biden pointed to the staggering number of Americans who have died or contracted coronavirus since the pandemic reached US shores.

“When he was presented with that number, (Trump) said, ‘It is what it is.’ Well, it is what it is because you are who you are. That’s why it is. The President has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything. He knew all the way back in February how serious this … was,” Biden said, referencing Trump’s interviews with journalist Bob Woodward in which he indicated he wanted to play the coronavirus down in order not to create national panic.

“You don’t panic. He panicked,” Biden added.

Trump retorted, telling Biden, “You could never have done the job we did” and citing the Obama administration’s handling of the swine flu.

“We got the gowns. We got the masks. We made the ventilators. You wouldn’t have made ventilators. And now we’re weeks away from a vaccine. We’re doing therapeutics already. Fewer people are dying,” Trump said, blaming China for the virus and arguing that his administration’s perceived lack of success in its handling of the pandemic is the result of bad press.

“I’ll tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood. You could’ve never done that, Joe,” Trump added. 

The President then brought up the Trump administration’s plan to quickly distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it is ready to be deployed. But Biden pushed back, questioning why Americans should trust someone who lies so frequently.

“This is the same man who told you by Easter this would be gone away. By the warm weather, it’d be gone — like a miracle. And by the way, maybe you could inject some bleach into your arm,” Biden said.

Trump claimed during the debate that the bleach comment he made earlier this year was sarcastic. CNN has fact checked this before, and there was simply no indication that he was being anything less than serious.