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Unimpressed: European reaction to Trump-Biden debate

LONDON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled over Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and the economy in a chaotic and bad-tempered first debate.

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Here are some reactions from Europe:

“A chaotic and vicious show, shocking for the most powerful country in the world,” - Spanish newspaper El Pais.

“It is worrying that the USA has reached a state in which the contenders for the most powerful office in the world don’t manage to discuss one of the country’s many problems objectively, despite the fact that both voters and international partners have many open questions,” - Norbert Roettgen, German conservative and foreign policy expert running to become head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party.

“The spiteful presidential debate portrayed a country that is no longer capable even of a dignified dispute,” - Meret Baumann, Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

“The debate was so chaotic it was almost unwatchable ... A debate like last night’s can’t have a real winner, but that is good news for Biden because it was Trump, who was behind in the polls, who needed to turn things around,” - Lorenzo Pregliasco, head of Italian polling and political analysis firm YouTrend.

“The most brutal duel of all times ... This would have been Biden’s big chance to talk about his policies, present HIS vision of America, NOT to engage in mud-slinging. One must say Biden and the Democrats spectacularly missed that opportunity,” - Filipp Piatov, head of Opinion at German mass-circulation daily Bild.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov: “Of course we are spotting new turns in U.S. political culture but we do not want to make any assessments or make any statements as this could be immediately viewed as an attempt to intervene. Russia has never, is not and is not going to intervene in U.S. domestic affairs.”

“The contrast with the Nixon-Kennedy debate, with its heavy emphasis on policy and foreign policy, is staggering. Our democracies are struggling to find a space now for anything that was once meant by political debate,” Rory Stewart, British former minister and diplomat.

“The debate left many observers across the political spectrum unimpressed by the verbal brawling they had witnessed,” - The Sun, Britain’s most-read newspaper.

Fabio Ghironi, an Italian economics professor at Washington University, tweeted that he never thought a U.S. political debate would fall so low. “It was like watching an Italian political talk-show.”

German weekly Spiegel’s theatre critic Wolfgang Hoebel, reviewing the debate, said: “Strictly speaking, the two of them were not even in the same play. Trump is a character that Shakespeare could have dreamt up. Biden is unfortunately just out of an Ibsen play.”

Editing by Janet Lawrence