(Bloomberg) — Democratic nominee Joe Biden called out President Donald Trump for his conduct at the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, calling his behavior a “national embarrassment.”
“I kind of thought, at one point, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but the president of the United States conducted himself the way he did — I think it was just a national embarrassment,” Biden said Wednesday while campaigning in Alliance, Ohio, the second stop on his train tour across Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at an Amtrak station in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 30.
Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden and moderator Chris Wallace during Tuesday’s debate, creating a chaotic environment as the president delivered false statements and personal attacks against Biden and his family. Biden hit back, at times, telling the president to “shut up” and calling him a “clown,” but Trump just kept talking over the other men on stage.
The remarks came as part of a seven-stop train tour through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The Biden campaign chartered an Amtrak train to take the former vice president and his wife, Jill, to parts of the two battleground states that largely flipped from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. Amtrak is a staple of Biden’s political identity as he used to commute daily between Washington and Wilmington.
Biden, calling Amtrak his “favorite means of transportation,” also exhibited some of his signature retail politicking that he has largely missed on a starkly reimagined campaign trail due to a global pandemic. While Trump holds rallies in airport hangars around the country, Biden’s team has closely hewed to public health guidelines, keeping his events very small. But the train tour allowed Biden to bring people aboard with him and chat with them.
Upon disembarking the train in Alliance, Biden offered a young girl in a blue dress his sport coat after she said she was cold. He also joked with a young boy who had a “baby shark” mask, telling him that he had a “scary mask.”
Still, most of the attention remained on the combative and disruptive debate.
Biden said Tuesday that Trump performed as he “expected him to,” and that the president’s conduct “reinforced for me why I got into this race in the first place.” In particular, Biden assailed Trump for not disavowing White supremacists. Asked whether he would condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right group, Trump said: “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by.” That led some members of the group to acknowledge the message — “Standing by, sir”
Biden on Wednesday delivered a different message to the group: “Cease and desist.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29.
Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images
The Democratic nominee also sought to tie Trump’s outbursts into his larger argument that the race is about different economic outlooks. Drawing on his middle-class upbringing in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Biden criticized Trump for not caring about everyday Americans and only catering to himself.
“What I saw last night was all about him,” he said. “He didn’t speak to you or your concerns or even the American people once.”
During the debate, Biden frequently looked directly into the camera and spoke to viewers, vowing that he understood the challenges they were facing and promising to work to address them if elected.
Still, Biden said he plans to participate in the next two debates, saying he was looking forward to the next forum in Miami, which will be a town hall format. The Commission on Presidential Debates said Wednesday that it would make changes to ensure the debates are “more orderly” in the future.
Read More: Debate Commission Says Changes Coming After Trump-Biden Faceoff
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the commission said in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
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