Chaotic debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden 'humiliated America in front of the world'

The question of who came out on top in the explosive and chaotic debate has largely been settled along partisan lines.

America has witnessed a chaotic debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace.

America has witnessed a chaotic debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace. Source: SBS News.

The highly-anticipated first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been dubbed the worst presidential debate in modern American history, a "disgusting outcome" and a humiliation.

The debate on Wednesday quickly descended into chaos as President Trump repeatedly interrupted Democratic candidate Mr Biden, who at one point told him to "shut up, man".

The candidates sparred over the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court and the COVID-19 pandemic, with Mr Trump repeatedly interrupting Mr Biden, attacking his education and saying that no one would attend his rallies.

Chaotic moments from Donald Trump and Joe Biden's first US presidential debate

Bruce Wolpe, a senior fellow at Sydney's United States Studies Centre, said debates were meant to educate voters so they could make a more informed decision on election day, and Wednesday's event did not do that.

"This was the worst presidential debate in modern American political history," Mr Wolpe told SBS News.

"Absolutely a disgusting outcome, which disserved America's democracy, humiliated the country in front of the world, and did nothing to bring the country together."

The question of who came out on top following the debate has largely settled along partisan lines. 

Mr Wolpe, who worked with the Democrats in US Congress during Barack Obama's first term as president, thought Mr Biden had come out marginally ahead "but there was no winner here".

He said he wouldn't be surprised if the next two presidential debates were cancelled in light of how the first unfolded.

"If there isn't a clear commitment by President Trump to abide by the rules, I think it's an open question as to whether [former] vice president Biden wants to participate in such a such an unsatisfactory forum," he said.

However, not all were critical of Mr Trump's performance, with Fox News commentator and long-time Trump backer Sean Hannity suggesting Mr Biden had been "steamrolled" by the president.

"Joe flat-out refused to answer simple, basic, fundamental questions, unable to respond to the president's beat-downs, and he appeared flustered, irritated, and, well, cranky," Mr Hannity said.

Despite Mr Wolpe's assessment of the "horrible" first debate, he did offer hope for next week's debate between Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic opponent Kamala Harris.

"Vice President Pence is a decent man, he is a gentleman and he will be civil, and she is a gentle woman and she will be civil," Mr Wolpe said.

"I think that's going to be the debate on policy that we were missing from today."

Aaron Kall, an expert on presidential debates at the University of Michigan, said the debate was an opportunity to make a good impression on the small segment of undecided voters. "This is not what we experienced tonight," he said.

If he is hoping to win over undecided voters, Mr Kall said, the President will need to outline a sunnier, more optimistic vision for the nation in the past two debates. 

But given that subsequent debates are typically watched by fewer people, and that many Americans will have voted by then, precious time has been lost. 

A CNN poll found 60 per cent of Americans believed Mr Biden performed best in the debate, while only 28 per cent said the same for Mr Trump.

The same poll found 62 per cent of Americans had a favourable view of Mr Biden in the aftermath of the debate, compared with 35 per cent for Mr Trump.

But Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist in Washington who advised Mr Trump's 2016 transition team, said it was unlikely the "mentally exhausting" debate changed any minds.

"Each side walked away with something, but the shock of the personal attacks against one another probably turned many people off," he said. 

During the debate, Mr Biden's campaign touted that it had raised a record $US3.8 million in fundraising.

Speaking during a post-debate call with political reporters, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield confirmed the figure.

“Joe Biden spoke directly to the American people tonight and they are responding. Tonight we broke the single hour record for a campaign on Act Blue and we broke our own hour record and raised $3.8 million between 10pm and 11pm," Bedingfield said.

With reporting by AAP.

Published 30 September 2020 at 3:49pm, updated 30 September 2020 at 7:30pm
By Jodie Stephens