The final presidential debate was held between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden Thursday night at Belmont University in Tennessee, with moderator Kristen Welker of NBC. Over 63 million people watched.
With new rules in place, each candidate was able to answer the questions posed for two minutes while the other was muted. During the discussion, both were unmuted. The result was a more civilized discussion with less interruption in comparison to the first presidential debate. The candidates discussed many relevant topics, such as the coronavirus epidemic, national security, immigration, and climate change, among other things.
Trump defended his efforts in handling the coronavirus saying, “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.” Claiming that a vaccine will be ready within weeks, despite no guarantee. He attacked Biden, saying he wants to keep the country shut down, affecting mental health and hurting the economy.
Biden followed up by condemning Trump’s response, blaming him for the over 220,000 deaths and claiming the President has no plan. He then explained that he would bring an end to the virus by enforcing masks and social distancing protocols. He further stated that he would provide schools and businesses with the necessary resources to reopen safely.
When both candidates were asked about national security threats, they attacked the others’ history. Both claimed that the other candidate was getting money from foreign countries, and both denied such claims.
With the news that Russia and Iran have done work to influence the elections, the candidates were asked if they would hold world leaders accountable for interfering with American security. Trump discussed his great relations with leaders such as Kim Jong Un and claimed that no one has been tougher on Russia than him. Biden stated that the President has “legitimized North Korea” by not holding him accountable.
With the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as the replacement for the late Justice Ginsberg on the Supreme Court, the future of Obamacare and healthcare in the United States has been a major topic in every debate. Biden’s plan includes public and private options for healthcare, while Trump plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump also denounced Biden’s plan, calling it “socialized medicine.” Biden responded, saying that his plan gives people a choice, and that “healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a right.”
Following the news that 545 immigrant children are missing their parents after being separated at the border, the candidates were asked about their immigration policies and both shifted blame to the others’ administration.
Upon the discussion of race, Biden was challenged on his 1994 crime bill, which led to mass incarceration, disproportionately affecting black and brown Americans. Trump claimed he was “the least racist person in the room,” despite his inability to condemn white supremacy in the first debate.
The candidates also debated over climate change. Biden was challenged the most because of his inconsistent stance on fracking. Trump attacked Biden’s climate plan citing how expensive it is and how many jobs people will lose. Biden’s defense of his plan was that it will create 18.6 million jobs, stating that both major labor and environmental groups support it.
A big statement Biden made was his support for moving away from the oil industry. He stated toward the end of the debate, “I will transition from the oil industry, yes. Because the oil industry pollutes significantly… It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time. I’d stop giving them federal subsidies… We have to move toward net zero emissions.”
Throughout the entire debate, Trump questioned Biden’s reputation, stating that for the 47 years he was in the Senate and the 8 years he was Vice President, he did nothing and questioned why Biden did not make the changes he proposes now back then. While Biden made repeated claims to unify the country.
Kristen Welker was praised for her performance as moderator, being able to take control of both candidates while having a productive debate.
Chris Wallace said on Fox News following the event, “I’m jealous… I would have killed to be able to moderate that debate.” Wallace was the moderator for the first Presidential Debate on September 29, where he struggled to keep the discussion civilized.
This was the final debate for both candidates to get their messages out to the voters before election day November 3.