The first of three showdowns between Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, devolved into attacks on Hunter Biden, smarts and schoolyard name-calling. As Trump went on offense, Biden tried to shut him down by calling the president a "clown" and a "liar."
Wallace scolded Trump repeatedly for not following the debate rules by interrupting and the veteran newsman often played the role of a wrestling referee rather than a moderator.
"Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why shouldn’t I be different than the two of you?" Wallace said.
DEBATE GETS PERSONAL AS BIDEN CALLS TRUMP A ‘CLOWN,’ TRUMP TELLS BIDEN HE’S NOT ‘SMART’
Trump came out swinging, but Biden held his own and didn't fall into previous debate pitfalls where he cut his time short or stumbled to get out responses. The two men often talked over each other in a brawl that got unwieldy at times.
The president touted his record in the White House on boosting the economy and how he handled the pandemic, proclaiming: "There has never been an administration or president who has done more than I've done in a period of three and a half years, and that's despite the impeachment hoax."
But Biden said under Trump the country has become weaker, sicker, poorer and more violent.
"You're the worst president America has ever had," Biden said at one point.
Biden sought to define himself as the steady leader of the Democratic Party and distanced himself from Bernie Sanders' health care plan and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal.
"You just lost the left," Trump told Biden.