• Pundits were split on who actually won but were virtually unanimous in calling the debate a disaster
  • Biden called Trump a "clown" and told him to "shut up"
  • Trump is trailing Bided by 6 points nationally and by nearly 100 Electoral College votes

The first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden was a raucous affair that saw Biden calling the president a “clown” and shushing him like a child. Trump interrupted Biden 73 times despite his campaign having agreed to allow his opponent to answer questions uninterrupted.

The debate in Cleveland was the first of three scheduled matchups between the presidential contenders. The next is set for Oct. 15 in Salt Lake City.

Experts were split on whether anyone actually won with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped prepare Trump for the contest, conceding on ABC the president should have shown more restraint.

Trump needed the debate to reset the optics of the campaign. It didn’t as Biden hammered at the president’s record on the pandemic and the economy.

The latest RealClearPolitics average of recent polls has Biden leading the president nationally by more than 6 points while the projected Electoral College tally gives Biden a 226 to 125 edge, with 187 votes considered a tossup (270 electoral votes are needed to capture the presidency).

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who ran against Biden in the Democratic primaries, was brutal in his judgment.

Trump was asked straight out to condemn white supremacists. Instead, he told them to “stand back and stand by.”

At one point when moderator Chris Wallace tried to get Trump to stop talking so Biden could answer a question, Biden responded with: “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown. Excuse me. This person.” At another point, Biden asked: “Will you shut up, man?”

Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman had a suggestion for the next debate.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said America’s choice is between old and obnoxious, and had advice for both sides.

Top Republican strategist Russ Schriefer told The New York Times the subsequent debates might as well be canceled.

“Seriously — if there weren’t any more debates, would that be a problem? Anyone served by this mess?” he asked.

Biden stuck to criticism of Trump’s record, shying away from personal attacks and telling the president Americans aren’t interested in them squabbling over personal issues. Trump tried to attack Biden’s son, Hunter, accusing him of accepting $3.5 million from Moscow’s mayor and millions more from Ukraine and China, an accusation Biden said had been debunked.

Biden highlighted the coronavirus pandemic, asking, “How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the kitchen table because someone died of COVID?” He also highlight the pandemic’s statistics – more than 7 million Americans infected and 206,000 dead.