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First presidential debate of 2020 election tonight

Posted at 4:54 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 19:05:21-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Tonight, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage for the first presidential debate of the 2020 election.

Moderated by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, topics will include each of their records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence, and finally the integrity of the election.

But McDaniel College Political Science Assistant Professor Matthew Mongiello expects another hot topic to come up.

"The really interesting elephant in the room is the presidents' taxes," said Mongiello.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that in both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes.

"So far we’ve only seen the president deflect on the issue surrounding his taxes so if this a moment when he will have to answer is really interesting," said Mongiello.

He said the most important thing to watch out for during the debate is how prepared the candidates are.

"We’re not likely to see a ton of new information that changes minds. That said, if one of these candidates has a disastrous performance, that could be impactful," said Mongiello.

Mongiello said there has been a declining significance in general election debates since the candidates are usually so well known. Still he's hosting a virtual watch party for his students, hoping more people will be interested to hear from our future leader.

"If this is what we are going to get. If these are going to be the big handful of statements of the two candidates, it’s worth having," said Mongiello.

Unlike in past debates this years will look significantly different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The candidates will both appear on stage, but distanced for safety. The audience will be reduced to about 90 people who will be wearing masks, sitting socially distanced and have taken a COVID-19 test.

The debate starts at 9 p.m. and will run for 90 minutes.