MSNBC anchor Lester Holt challenged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a Monday evening town hall, asking whether he regretted his part in last week’s “ugly” debate.
Holt noted that both Biden and President Donald Trump had a hand in the debate’s devolution, and went on to ask whether the former vice president regretted telling the sitting President of the United States to “shut up” or calling him a “clown.” (RELATED: ‘He Bears The Primary Responsibility’: Chris Wallace Blames Trump For Debate Debacle)
“Look, let me ask you this, Vice President Biden. It was an ugly debate. And it hit some lows,” Holt began. “You called him a clown, a fool. You told him to shut up. I think most people believe that the president was interrupting you, but it seemed to go against some of the language you have said about, you know, not being divisive. Do you regret any part on your part?”
Biden explained that he had gotten frustrated because he was trying to think of something that he could do or say to get Trump to respect the debate stage and moderator. (RELATED: PATRIOTS: ‘This Is Beneath Him’: The Post-Debate Push To Keep Biden From Squaring Off With Trump Again)
“The one thing that became absolutely clear, he didn’t want to answer any questions,” Biden said. “He did not want to talk about substance. If you notice, not one single time that I can recall did he offer a substantive answer or criticism related to a policy matter. It was all invective, all personal, all things that had nothing to do with whether you’re going to change these people’s lives for the better.”
“And I did get very frustrated. I did get frustrated. And I should have said this is a clownish undertaking instead of calling him a clown,” Biden continued, adding, “But the fact is it was — I’ll be very honest with you, I think it was embarrassing for the nation to see the President of the United States hectoring like he did and everything was about a personal attack.”
“Yeah, but to the point of the question, though, you’re going to be meeting with world leaders who are going to get under your skin, you know,” Holt pressed.
Biden responded by saying that he had met with more leaders than Trump had, and that he had never mishandled those meetings.
“You can look back on all those international meetings I had. You can’t think of a time when I have not handled it properly,” Biden added. “I don’t have somebody screaming at me at the next podium when I’m meeting with a world leader.”
The debate was so out of control that the Debate Commission announced plans to change the rules, possibly allowing the moderators to cut the candidates’ microphones if they fail to follow rules.