US election debate LIVE – Biden and Trump due to arrive ANY MINUTE ahead of first head to head – watch here
PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden are set to go head-to-head in the first presidential debate tonight.
The pair will duke it out in Cleveland with issues such as coronavirus, the Supreme Court, the economy and tax returns expected to be raised.
You can watch the entire debate live, here on this page – beginning at 9pm Eastern (2am British Summer Time).
The latest poll in Georgia showed Biden marginally ahead in the state which has not been Democrat in more than 30 years.
Follow our US Election 2020 blog for the latest news and updates...
WHAT'S BEING PREPARED?
The six topics Wallace has chosen to debate this evening are the past records of both candidates, the supreme court, Covid-19, the economy, racial issues and violence in the cities, and the integrity of the election.
Biden is understood to have spent several days preparing for tonight's debate, with campaign adviser Bob Bauer reportedly playing Trump and adopting his style during practice sessions.
Trump has reportedly not attempted traditional rehearsals, instead watching videos of Biden and creating flashcards to.
Former New Jersey Governer is said to be helping the President prepare for tonight's event, with Trump aides preparing an “arsenal” of material to hurl at Biden.
WILL CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS BE IN PLACE?
The podiums wills be further apart than they usually would be at a presidential debate as part of coronavirus precautions.
The pair won't shake hands before or after the debate – not something we imagine will upset either of the men.
Roughly 70 people are expected to be in the audience for the debate – far lower than would usually attend such an event.
WHAT'S THE DEBATE FORMAT?
Tonight's debate will be broken down into six 15-minute segments, lasting a total of 90 minutes with no commercial breaks.
There will be no opening statements, and the first question will go to Trump.
Wallace said he's hoping to be “as invisible as possible” as moderator, allowing the debate to flow between the two candidates an not fact-checking either of them.
WHO WILL BE MODERATING?
Tonight's moderator will be Fox News host Chris Wallace, who famously held the President to account over the coronavirus death toll during an explosive interview in July.
Wallace also famously questioned the difficulty of a cognitive test the President claimed to have “aced”.
For his part, Trump recently accused Wallace of being “controlled by the radical left”.
COUNTDOWN IS ON…
We're now just 40 minutes away from the start of what is being described as “the most consequential presidential debate in US history”.
Tonight’s debate is taking place at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Ohio has been considered a vital swing state over the past two decades – although Trump there by a massive eight points in 2016 and all indications show it is leaning towards becoming a solidly Republican state due to its older, largely white population.
A DEBATE IN THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS
The debate is being hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in the 27,000-square-foot (2,500-square-meter) atrium of the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion on the clinics Health Education Campus.
The atrium has been turned into a makeshift debate hall with a stage, red carpeting and elevated platforms for cameras.
Chairs are mostly placed right next to one another, the rows have been spaced out and signs have been posted on many chairs that read, “Thank you for not sitting here in observance of social distancing.”
That leaves room for about 100 people, all of whom will have been tested for the virus and will be required to wear masks.
President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden won't have to wear masks themselves.
Each candidate's campaign was given 20 tickets to hand out to guests, said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
WISCONSIN JUSTICES WEIGH REMOVAL OF 130,00 FROM VOTER ROLLS
The Wisconsin Supreme Court weighed Tuesday whether to go along with conservatives who argue that 130,000 voters should be removed from the rolls in the hotly contested presidential battleground state.
The Wisconsin case is one of several lawsuits across the country, many in battleground states, that seek to purge voters from registration rolls.
It is being closely watched because President Donald Trump won the swing state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.
The Wisconsin case hinges on whether voters who were identified as potentially having moved should be removed from the voter registration database.
TRUMP CHOSE BARRETT DAYS AFTER GINSBURG DIED
President Donald Trump offered to name Judge Amy Coney Barrett his Supreme Court nominee more than a week ago at the White House and she accepted, according to formal paperwork submitted to the Senate ahead of her confirmation hearings.
Barrett tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that the White House initially contacted her September 19, the day after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, creating the court vacancy. Trump made the offer when she visited the White House on Monday, September 21, and I accepted, she wrote.
That's days before Trump's formal announcement Saturday, and as he kept Americans guessing up until the last moment, suggesting he was still considering other nominees.
EXPECT 'FIREWORKS' EARLY ON IN DEBATE
Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier has said to expect “fireworks” early on in the clash between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as they battle it out to get to the White House.
“Both campaigns know that the first 30 minutes of this debate is really where the most eyeballs will be watching, so expect fireworks early, if they are coming,” Baier told “Your World” host Neil Cavuto.
JOE BIDEN TARGETS MIDDLE-CLASS
Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he will “fight for the middle class” if he is elected to the White House.
In a Twitter message he wrote: “If we’re elected, @KamalaHarris and I will wake up every single morning to fight for the middle class. For Main Street. For the folks who keep our country running.
“We’re going to make our government work for everyone — not just the wealthy and well-connected.”
TRUMP IN BULLISH MOOD AHEAD OF FIRST DEBATE
Donald Trump appeared to be in a confident mood as the first presidential debate against Joe Biden draws closer.
He tweeted: “Just arrived in the Great State of Ohio. Real Polls have us leading by even more than 2016. With Biden being against Fracking (Energy & Jobs) & your Second Amendment, we should be in very good shape!”
TRUMP CAMPAIGN BUYS SPACE ON YOUTUBE HOMEPAGE
Donald Trump's campaign has bought up significant space on YouTube's homepage, ahead of tonight's presidential debate.
A space on the platform's homepage promoted a video called “I See A Way Out,” in which a Black Trump supporter, Gary Lamb, expresses his belief in a “silent majority” that will carry Trump to an electoral victory.
In another promoted video on the homepage, the Trump campaign accuses Biden of wanting to “surrender” to the coronavirus by shutting down the economy and allowing the US to lose jobs to China.
BIDEN REJECTS EAR CHECK AHEAD OF DEBATE
Joe Biden's campaign has rejected a call from Donald Trump's team to undergo an ear check to look for electronic devices before the presidential debate.
The president has consented to this kind of check by a third party, but a source told Fox News the Biden campaign has declined the ear check.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN DENIES IT ASKED MODERATORS NOT TO MENTION COVID DEATHS
Donald Trump's campaign team has denied it asked the presidential debate moderators not to mention the number of deaths from the coronavirus.
A staff writer for The Atlantic posted on Twitter that Biden's Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said the Trump campaign asked a condition for Tuesday's Fox News debate moderator Chris Wallace not to mention that more than 200,000 people had died from the virus in the US.
Trump campaign's Director of Communications Tim Murtaugh though said the tweet was “a lie”.
Murtaugh denied the request was ever made, saying, “This is a lie and a continuation of the politicization of a public health crisis that Biden has been engaged in for months.”
BARRETT SAID TO HAVE CLOSE LINKS WITH FAITH GROUP THAT SUBJUGATES WOMEN
President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court is said to have close ties to a Christian religious group that holds men are divinely ordained as the “head of the family and faith”.
Former members of the group, called People of Praise, say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands, reports say.
Amy Coney Barrett has not commented publicly about her own or her family's involvement, and a People of Praise spokesman declined to say whether she and her husband are current members.
'CHINA VIRUS' PHRASE TO BE USED FIVE TIMES IN DEBATE
Bookies Sporting Index predict the phrase “China virus” will be used five times in tonight's presidential debate.
Other favourite phrases of President Donald Trump’s include “Sleepy Joe Biden” – in reference to his rival candidate – and “sleepy” is predicted to be used three times, while “tremendous” is backed for 10 mentions.
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this” is lined up for four mentions, with six for “fake news” and two for “deep state”.
THREE IN FOUR VOTERS PLAN TO WATCH DEBATE
Almost three in four registered voters plan to watch tonight's presidential debate, according to a poll.
A Monmouth University survey found that 74 percent of respondents plan to watch the debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, including 78 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.
Monmouth also found that despite the high number of potential viewers from all political stripes, just 3 percent say they are likely to change their minds about their vote based on anything said by the two candidates.
LIMBAUGH RIPS INTO 'THE ROCK' OVER BIDEN SUPPORT
Rush Limbaugh attacked Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on his nationally-syndicated radio program over his backing of Democrat Joe Biden.
Limbaugh said the Hollywood actor had “sold his soul to China”.
“Dwayne Johnson has sold his soul to China,” Limbaugh said. “It is a fascinating story about who owns this guy and who he really cares about pleasing.
“Now, he could have been silent. He could have just gone through this campaign and not announced a preference. But he’s come out and endorsed Biden,” the host added.
WHO ARE THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DEBATE MODERATORS?
Chris Wallace: The 72-year-old Wallace is a longtime journalist who serves as host of Fox News Sunday.
He moderated a heated debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Steve Scully: Steve Scully of C-SPAN will moderate the second presidential debate, which will take place on October 15 in Miami.
John Oliver has repeatedly referred to Scully as “The Most Patient Man on Television.”
Kristen Welker: Kristen Welker, the NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of Weekend Today, will moderate the third and final presidential debate on October 22 in Nashville.
Her “hard-hitting political reporting appears across all NBC News and MSNBC platforms, including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, TODAY, Meet the Press and NBCNews.com,” according to her online bio.
HILLARY 'SIGNED OFF PLAN TO VILIFY TRUMP WITH PUTIN'
Hillary Clinton planned to “stir up a scandal” against President Donald Trump in 2016, connecting him with Putin and Russia, and then President Obama knew, a new letter reveals.
In a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, reveals then Democratic presidential candidate Clinton “approved a campaign” to vilify Trump, tying him to Putin.
It further claims that Obama was briefed of Clinton's plan by the Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan.
Read more here
WALL STREET CLOSES LOWER
Wall Street closed lower on Tuesday, snapping a three-day winning streak as investors took money off the table hours before the first US presidential debate.
All three major US stock indexes lost ground.
David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York, said: “Tonight's presidential debate has the potential to move markets and investors are unlikely to take a large position in front of that.
“Right now, markets are clearly driven by events in Washington, bed it fiscal stimulus or the presidential election.”
TRUMP AND BIDEN EDGE CLOSER TO SHOWDOWN
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden have been gathering their forces together as the first presidential debate edges closer.
Both men huddled with aides in the final hours before the debate, which will offer the candidates their biggest national stage to outline starkly different visions for a country facing multiple crises.
Biden will step onto the Cleveland stage holding leads in the polls significant in national surveys, close in some battleground states and looking to expand his support among suburban voters, women and seniors. Surveys show the president has lost significant ground among those groups since 2016, but Biden faces his own questions encouraged by Trumps withering attacks.
Trump will have his best chance to try to reframe the campaign as a choice between candidates and not a referendum over his handling of the virus that has killed more people in America than any other nation. Americans, according to polling, have soured on his leadership in the crisis, and the president has struggled to land consistent attacks on Biden.
TRUMP TO PUSH BIDEN ON TAX, TRADE AND ENERGY
White House aides have said Trump, 74, will aggressively challenge Biden's record on issues such as trade, energy and taxes and will be prepared to defend himself on his own taxes.
Biden, 77, is certain to press his criticism of Trump's response to the pandemic, and highlight Trump's efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the law known as Obamacare that has helped millions of Americans obtain health insurance.
The debate will be divided into six segments: the records of Trump and Biden, the Supreme Court, the pandemic, the economy, election integrity and “race and violence” in US cities.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN LABELS BIDEN 'DISHONEST' OVER PAST EARNINGS
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh issued a statement responding to Biden's tax disclosure, accusing him of being dishonest in public statements about his own past earnings.
But did not address whether President Trump would release his returns.
Biden's 2019 return showed most of his income came from a company he has said handles payments from his speaking and writing engagements and from a University of Pennsylvania teaching post from which he took an unpaid leave of absence after launching his candidacy.
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HEAD TO CLEVELAND
Both candidates were heading to Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump departed after leaving the White House. Biden was due to fly from Delaware.
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