Local reaction to first Trump-Biden presidential debate

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local Democrats and Republicans are reacting after the first 2020 presidential debate.

Chatham County Democrats said they thought they were watching a “children’s show” or “reality show” with how President Donald Trump would talk over former Vice President Joe Biden.

News 3 spoke with Savannah Mayor Van Johnson to get his reaction to how Biden handled Trump’s criticisms. While Mayor Johnson isn’t handling city business he’s a member of the Democratic National Committee.

To start the night, both candidates were asked questions on the recent Supreme Court Justice pick and the United States’ COVID-19 response. Johnson agrees with Biden that the SCOTUS pick should have waited until after the election. As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden says Trump didn’t have a plan to handle this health crisis.

Johnson said with Biden as president, he would have been able to acknowledge what needed to be done from the beginning. The mayor told News 3 by the time the federal response came it was a little too late before the people of Georgia started to see a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

Chatham County Democrats said they want to see a president leave the science to the scientists.

“Unfortunately for quite some time, there was not even an acknowledgment that it was even deadly or that people would die or that we needed to wear a mask. Because of that type of confusion, lives that should be with us are no longer with us and so I believe that Vice President Biden speaks to the need that we need to listen to scientists,” Johnson said. “I’ve always said here in Savannah we keep the faith but we follow the science. In the end, politicians should not be doing science.”

Johnson adds that Biden spoke directly to the American people during the debate and that’s why Democrats in Southeast Georgia would like to see him elected in November.

Some Chatham County Republicans held a debate watch party at Coach’s Corner. A few dozen supporters showed up to share their reactions to a debate some say was unfairly moderated by Chris Wallace.

Those Republicans say the president was alloted significantly less time during the debate than his opponent. Despite that, however, they say the president’s performance was strong.

“I think he did a great job,” said Carri Johnson, the chairman of the Young Republican Party. “One of his goals tonight was to highlight what he’s done in his term as president but also highlight the former vice president’s failure in his 47 years in politics.”

Savannah Viar, Trump Victory’s Georgia Press Secretary, says that is one of several messages President Trump’s campaign team hoped would come across during the debate. Viar says the president’s values align with most Georgia voters, including those in the southeast.

Viar cites the president’s recent trade agreements, which she says is actively increasing profits in Savannah’s ports.

“It’s very exciting for our grassroots volunteers and for people that are supporting the president to see the enthusiasm and to see it for themselves,” Viar said of Donald Trump Jr.’s visit to Hutchinson Island earlier this month. “We are not just in Atlanta, we are in every part of the state and I think showcasing that we are paying attention to every corner by having surrogates like Don Junior there showcases that attention to detail.”

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