Trump says presidential election will be "fraud like you've never seen"


Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled fiercely over the integrity of November's election in a chaotic first debate on Tuesday (September 29) marked by personal insults, name calling and Trump's repeated interruptions.


Biden, 77, has held a consistent lead over Trump, 74, in national opinion polls, although surveys in the battleground states that will decide the election show a closer contest. It was hard to determine whether the debate would move the needle.


With more than a million Americans already casting early ballots and time running out to change minds or influence the small sliver of undecided voters, the stakes were enormous as the two White House candidates took the stage five weeks before the Nov. 3 Election Day.


The two contenders did not shake hands as they entered the debate, adhering to protocols on social distancing because of the coronavirus.


Trump, who has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, repeated his unfounded allegations that mail-in voting would lead to fraud. Experts say fraud is extremely rare.


Trump said he expected the Supreme Court might have to decide the election by taking a close look at the ballots and he urged his supporters to go and watch the balloting.


"If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that," he said.


Biden urged Americans to make a plan to vote and assured voters that Trump would be gone if Biden wins. He said he would not declare victory until the outcome was validated.


"If we get the votes, it's going to be all over. He's going to go," he said.