Chaotic first debate won't nix Biden's future face-offs with Trump, campaign says

By David Smiley, Miami Herald on

Published in Political News

MIAMI - Following an ugly first debate with President Donald Trump Tuesday night in Cleveland, Joe Biden's campaign quickly moved to quash pundits' talk of canceling upcoming meetings with the president in Miami and Nashville.

"Joe Biden's going to show up," Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, said during a call with reporters held late Tuesday night after the debate. "He's going to continue speaking to the American people."

Biden, the former vice president, and Trump are set to meet again Oct. 15 in Miami for a socially distanced debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. They will share the stage with undecided voters and take questions from them.

"Real voters are going to have the chance to engage the candidates. Biden obviously relishes any opportunity to talk directly with voters as something he prioritizes on the campaign trail," Bedingfield said when asked whether Biden believed it was still "worth" debating Trump in Miami. "There's an open question here based on what we saw from Donald Trump tonight: Is he going to bully actual voters? Is he going to insult his way through the next debate?"

A Trump spokesperson in Florida did not immediately respond to an email Wednesday morning requesting comment.

Tuesday's debate in Cleveland, held without fact-checking, was the first meeting between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees. It began without a handshake, an unusual move attributed to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

But it proved symbolic.


Trump repeatedly interrupted and talked over Biden, and told him, "There's nothing smart about you." Biden told Trump at one point to "shut up," and later called him a "clown."

Trump interjected so frequently that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News stopped the debate to ask the president to abide by the rules his campaign agreed to when the debate was established. "Why don't you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule, OK, sir?" Wallace asked, rhetorically.

The event was widely panned as the "worst debate ever."

But asked twice Tuesday night if Biden would continue to debate, Bedingfield told reporters the Democratic nominee would show up in Miami and Nashville. She said the campaign is constantly in talks about the rules for debates, run by the Presidential Commission on Debates, and it's likely "there will be some additional conversations."

Biden's visit to Miami for the debate will be his second visit to the city in 10 days. NBC announced Tuesday night that he would appear in an Oct. 5 town hall event outdoors at the Perez Art Museum Miami with a socially distanced audience.

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