Washington: The first presidential debate of the US election rapidly descended into farce and name-calling as Donald Trump constantly interrupted Joe Biden and the Democratic nominee called the President a "clown" and told him to "shut up".
In the aftermath, at least one election expert called for the following presidential debates to be scrapped.
Debate moderator Chris Wallace, of Fox News, struggled to exert control on Wednesday (AEST) as a belligerent Trump dominated the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, by rarely refusing to let Biden answer a question in full.
US President Donald Trump gestures while speaking.Credit:AP
"Will you shut up, man?" Biden asked Trump early in the debate, before labelling him "the worst president America has ever had".
"It's hard to get a word in with this clown," Biden said. "Excuse me, I mean, this president."
Meanwhile Trump accused Biden of graduating "the lowest or almost the lowest in your class" when he attended university in the 1960s.
"Don’t ever use the word 'smart' with me," Trump told his opponent. "Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe."
During the clash: Democratic presidential candidate former vice-president Joe Biden. Credit:AP
As well as Biden, Trump clashed with the debate moderator, telling Wallace: "First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him. I’m not surprised."
One of the more remarkable moments came when Trump refused to condemn white supremacists when asked to do so.
"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said, referring to a far-right group. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left."
As expected, Trump attacked Biden's son Hunter over his past consulting work for companies in China and Ukraine.
"China ate your lunch, Joe," Trump said. "No wonder your son goes in and he takes out – billions of dollars. Takes out billions of dollars to manage. He makes millions of dollars."
After defending his son, Biden said: "This is not about my family. It’s not about your family. It’s about the American people."
Biden attacked Trump over allegations in The Atlantic that he described deceased military veterans as "suckers" and "losers".
Referring to his late son Beau, who served in the military, Biden said: "He was not a loser, he was a patriot and the people left behind there are heroes."
US President Donald Trump fumed visibly on the state during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Credit:AP
“I don't know Beau, I know Hunter,” Trump responded, reverting to his attacks on Biden's surviving son.
At several times throughout the debate Biden tried to address the American people directly, ignoring Trump's interjections.
"You folks living in Scranton and Claymont and all the small towns and working-class towns in America, how are you doing?" Biden asked in a section on the economy.
Veteran political analyst Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, described the event on Twitter as "one of the least instructive presidential debates ever" and "a chaotic mess".
He then called for the remaining two presidential debates to be cancelled.
Pulitzer prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham said Trump's behaviour at the debate was "the lowest moment in the history of the presidency" since Andrew Johnson in the late 1800s.
Trump Biden 2020
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