The Health 202: Health care was first up in last night’s caustic presidential debate

President Trump incessantly interrupted and insulted his opponent Joe Biden and both men repeatedly talked over each other, in a debate severely lacking in civility even by today’s standards. 

The candidates spent the first half hour tangling over the coronavirus pandemic, the Obamacare challenge before the Supreme Court, differences over expanding health insurance and abortion rights . But much of the debate couldn’t be heard clearly and the candidates jumped quickly between topics to lob accusations and even insults at each other.

Here are seven takeaways from the debate.

Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask and limiting campaign crowd sizes.

The  coronavirus pandemic – and Trump’s response to it – got plenty of air time during the debate’s first half. Biden came prepared with a list of the president’s repeated blunders: his confusing and inaccurate claims about how the virus behaves, his delays on acting on the pandemic last winter and spring and his refusal to accept vaccine timelines laid out by his own advisers.

When Biden noted Trump’s long resistance to wearing masks, despite advice by the director of the Centers for Disease Control, the president mocked Biden for adhering to the public health guidance.

“I wear masks….I don’t wear a mask like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away…and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

From a writer for The Dispatch, which describes itself as “fact based conservative news”:

When moderator Chris Wallace noted Biden is holding much smaller events than Trump, Trump said that’s “because nobody will show up.”

Questioned by Wallace on the large rallies he continues to hold, the president claimed “we have had no problem whatsoever.”

“We do them outside, we have tremendous crowds, as you see, and literally on 24 hours notice,” Trump said. “And Joe does the circles and has three people someplace.”

Trump steamrolled not only Biden but also the moderator.

He repeatedly disregarded rules of the debate, refusing even to let Biden speak for two minutes without interruption when each new debate topic was introduced. Several times he earned rebukes from Wallace, who warned the president he was violating procedures his own campaign had agreed to.

“Mr. President, your campaign agreed to both sides would get two minute answers, uninterrupted,” Wallace said. “Well, you’re a side agreed to it and why don’t you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule. Okay, sir?”

“Gentlemen, you realize if you’re both speaking at the same time,” Wallace said at another point.

Rodney Whitlock, former health-care staffer for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa):

Derek Thompson, a writer at The Atlantic:

Casey Mattox, a vice president at the conservative group Americans for Prosperity:

Libertarian podcaster Ben Shapiro:

Biden didn’t hold back with insults.

He called Trump “a clown,” a “liar” (Trump quickly returned the insult) and told him to “shut up.”

Biden also got sarcastic after a discussion of whether he’d support adding more Supreme Court