Snopes Coverage of the First 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate

Joe Biden and Donald Trump met in Ohio for the first of four debates this election season. Snopes fact-checked it live.

  • Published 29 September 2020
U.S. Election Day is Nov. 3, 2020. Check your state’s vote-by-mail options. Browse our coverage of candidates and the issues. And just keep fact-checking.

Snopes reporters are digging into claims from the 2020 U.S. presidential debates, plus the vice presidential debate. We begin with the Sept. 29 presidential debate from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Reporters Dan MacGuill and Jessica Lee, with Operations Editor Jordan Liles and Engagement Editor Brandon Echter, are covering the debate.

Our team will also be presenting new fact-check content in the days to come, just as we have been doing for more than 25 years. We encourage readers to sign up for our newsletter for our analysis, and to support our newsroom and fact-checking efforts by becoming a Snopes Member.

Trump Disparaging the U.S. Military

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “The way you talk about the military, the way you talk about them being losers and being … just being suckers. My son was in Iraq. … He was not a loser. He was not a patriot, and the people left behind there were heroes.”

Trump Said to Nuke Hurricanes?

On the subject of a moment during the debate…

Joe Biden on Antifa

Former Vice President Joe Biden: “Antifa is an idea, not an organization.”

Biden and Prosecuting Violence in Protests

Former Vice President Joe Biden said of protests in Portland: “I made it clear in my public statements that the violence should be prosecuted, it should be prosecuted. … They can in fact take care of it, if [Trump] just stayed out of the way.”

Trump Votes by Mail?

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “There are going to be millions of people… that are going to be voting by mail-in ballots. Like he does, by the way.”

Biden and “Stupid Bastards”

President Donald Trump said: “He [Biden] called the military ‘stupid bastards.'”

Trump Ending Diversity Training

President Donald Trump said: “I ended it because it’s racist. I ended it because a lot of people were being asked to do things that were absolutely insane. … They were teaching people to hate our country.”

Trump Holding Up The Bible

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “When Mr. Floyd was killed, there was a peaceful protest in front of the White House. What did he do? He came out of his bunker had the military use tear gas on them so he could walk across to a church and hold up a Bible.”

On the same subject, a fact check from the past…

The Recession and Jobs

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “We inherited the worst recession short of a depression in American history. I was asked to bring it back. We were able to make the economic recovery to create the jobs…”

Defunding The Police

President Donald Trump said: “He’s talking about defunding the police.”

Biden and “Racial Jungle”

Trump, COVID-19, and Influenza

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “He didn’t even tell you.”

Hunter Biden and $3.5 Million

President Donald Trump said: “The Mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son $3.5 million dollars.”

A “Depleted” Military under Obama

President Donald Trump said: “We’ve done things you never even thought of doing, including fixing the broken military that you gave me.”

COVID-19 Protective Equipment

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “We should be providing all of the protective gear possible.”

Fauci and Masks

H1N1 Pandemic

Of the H1N1 pandemic, Biden said of the toll: “14,000 people — not 200,000. There was no economic recession.”

China Travel Restrictions

Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “We were insisting that the people we had on the ground in China should be able to go to Wuhan and determine for themselves how dangerous this was. … He waited and waited and waited.”

Xenophobic

President Donald Trump said: “I closed it, you said ‘he’s xenophobic.'”

The Price of Insulin

For this fact check, President Donald Trump mentioned the price of insulin during the debate.

A Quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This fact check concerns a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

President Donald Trump said: “Justice Ginsburg said very powerfully, very strongly, at some point 10 years ago or so, she said a president and the Senate is elected for a period of time. But a president is elected for four years. We’re not elected for three years. I’m not elected for three years.”

Follow @snopes on Twitter for all future debates.