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Chaotic clash in Cleveland: Takeaways from first US presidential debate

US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden, faced off in their first debate of the campaign in Cleveland on Tuesday, with Trump talking over his rival and the moderator as he sought to hold the spotlight.

Here are takeaways from the matchup, the first of three before the November 3 election:


Trump is used to sparring with reporters, and he spent Tuesday’s debate using the same tactic he uses in the White House briefing room: interrupting.

Throughout the 90-minute debate, Trump repeatedly talked over Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, overshadowing attempts to discuss policy and drawing rebukes for breaking the rules that both campaigns had agreed on to ensure that both candidates had equal time.

The debate split-screen regularly showed the two candidates talking simultaneously while Wallace pleaded for order.

“Please let the vice president talk,” Wallace admonished Trump during one of his interruptions.

“Will you shut up, man?” Biden said to Trump, one of many times he directed the president to be quiet.

The effect was exhausting, for viewers and, seemingly, for the moderator, who conceded at one point that he was having trouble following.

“That was too hot,” Chris Christie, the combative Republican former New Jersey governor and adviser to Trump, said on ABC, while also criticizing Biden’s performance.

“It’s been an interesting hour and a half,” Wallace said at the conclusion of the debate with a chuckle and, with a nod to the follow-up debates in next few weeks, said there was more to come.