WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The first of three presidential debates between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden quickly deteriorated into bitter taunts and near chaos.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said Biden was forced to fight back because of Trump’s demeanor.
“He tried his best to maintain a much more professional and thoughtful approach to the debate,” Reed said.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said the exchange was hardly productive.
“We had a shouting match,” he said. “We had a president who established the rules for the debate and then violated those rules.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, blamed the debate format.
“Two minutes for each side and then open discussion – I thought ‘Oh my goodness,'” he said.
A major sticking point during the debate was Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn white supremacy.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has got to do something about Antifa and the left.”
Reed said he was disappointed in the president’s response.
“The President couldn’t decisively and unequivocally denounce white nationalism,” Reed said.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, believes the president misspoke.
“I think he should correct it,” Scott said. “If he doesn’t correct, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, defended Trump.
“How many times does he have to say it?” McCarthy said. “If the question is, ‘Would you denounce?’ and the answer is ‘Yes,’ he did that.”
Next week, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris will square off in the first vice presidential debate.