The final pre-election debate will take place as more than 47 million people have cast their ballots 12 days before the end of the election.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden battled how to tame the raging coronavirus in the final debate on Thursday around 2020 among the major domestic and foreign challenges the nation is facing.
Less than two weeks before the election, Trump tried to portray himself as the same outsider he first introduced to voters four years ago and repeatedly said he was not a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader in a country facing multiple crises, trying to relate what he viewed as the president’s failure to everyday American life
The night in Nashville revolved around a battle over the president’s handling of the pandemic that killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Trump said the virus would go away, while Biden warned the nation was headed for a “dark winter.” According to polls, this is the main theme of the campaign for voters, and Biden stated, “Anyone responsible for so many deaths should not remain President of the United States.”
Trump defended his management of the nation’s deadliest health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden’s warning that the nation is facing a terrible time due to spikes in infections. And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks.
“It will go away,” said Trump, sticking to his optimistic view of the pandemic. “We round the curve. We turn the corner. It goes away.”
The president said the worst problems are in states with democratic governors, a claim that is no longer as generally true as it used to be.
Biden vowed that his administration would postpone the fight against the pandemic for scientists, saying that Trump’s divisive approach to suffering states hampered the nation’s response.
“I don’t see it the way he does – blue and red states,” Biden said. “They are all the United States. And look at all of the states that have a spike in the coronavirus.” They are the red states. “
With Trump lagging behind and having to change the course of the campaign, the debate could prove crucial, despite the fact that more than 47 million votes have already been cast and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in past election years. Their first debate was marked by angry interruptions, but on Thursday night the tone was mostly milder until Trump resumed his loud meddling tactics towards the end.
In a campaign marked by ugly personal attacks, there was a surprising amount of substantive political debates on the night when the two came across the environment, foreign policy, immigration and racial justice.
When Trump repeatedly asked Biden if he would “shut down the oil industry,” the Democratic flag bearer said he would “move from the oil industry, yes” and replace it with renewable energy “over time”. Trump, who addressed voters directly in energy-producing states like Texas and the vital battlefield of Pennsylvania, took the remark as a “big statement”.
When the debate centered on climate change, Trump explained his decision to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, stating that it was an “unfair” pact that cost the country trillions of dollars and harmed businesses.
Trump repeatedly claimed that Biden’s plan to combat climate change and invest in green industries was developed by “AOC plus three” with reference to New York MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden chuckled for much of Trump’s response and said, “I don’t know where he’s from.”
“I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kill all birds, “Trump said to Biden, who laughed at the response.
During the race, Biden called on Trump’s earlier refusal to condemn white supremacists and his attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, stating that the president “fuels every single racist fire”.
“You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” said Biden. The rivals’ reputation for “honor and clarification” is clear, he said.
Trump countered by citing his criminal justice reform efforts and blowing up Biden’s support for a 1990s crime law that many perceive as disproportionately incarcerated black men. He stared into the crowd and declared himself the “least racist person in this room”.
On foreign policy issues, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summit meetings with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice president was involved in the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border.
Biden said America learned from a New York Times report that Trump paid only $ 750 a year in federal taxes while he had a “secret bank account” in China. The former vice president then stated that he had published all of his tax returns for 22 years and asked the president to clear his return, saying, “What are you hiding?”
Trump said he closed his previous account in China, claiming his accountants told him he had paid tens of millions in taxes upfront. However, as he has done for the past four years, he refused to say when he could do so after promising to free his taxes.
Trump said when it comes to health care, he wants to “end” the Obama-era affordable care bill amid a pandemic and develop “a brand new, beautiful health care” that protects coverage for pre-existing conditions. Biden said the president had long talked about such a move, but “he never came up with a plan.”
He also denounced Trump’s claim that Biden wanted to socialize medicine and create daylight between himself and the more liberal members of his party, whom he defeated in the Democratic primary.
“He thinks he’s running against someone else,” said the former vice president. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I hit all these other people because I didn’t agree with them.”
In a visual reminder of the pandemic that rewritten the norms of American society and fundamentally changed the campaign, Plexiglass panels were installed on the stage on Wednesday between the two men. But they were removed in the hours before the debate.
The debate, hosted by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was one last opportunity for any man to hold his own in front of a television audience of tens of millions of voters. And questions swirled around beforehand as to how Trump, whose frantic performance at the initial debate was viewed by aides as a bug that put viewers off, would appear in part of the campaign where he furiously targeted the news media and deeply unleashed personal attacks on Biden and his grown son.
When he feels cornered, Trump has often whipped and gone as negative as possible. At a breathtaking moment during the 2016 campaign, shortly before a debate with Hillary Clinton in which he appeared with women, Trump held a press conference to deviate from the release of the Access Hollywood band in which he boasts of groping women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Then he invited her to watch as a spectator.
In a similar move, Trump’s campaign held another surprise press conference before the debate, this time with Tony Bobulinski, a man who said he was Hunter Biden’s former business partner and made unproven allegations that the vice president’s son had consulted his father on China business negotiations .
Trump made similar, albeit vague, allegations from the debate phase and the exchange on Hunter Biden did not dominate the night as the aides of both campaigns thought this might happen. Biden declared the discussion of family entanglements “vicious” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the essential issues.
He turned to the camera and the millions watching at home and said, “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family and your family hurts badly.”
Lemire reported from Washington, Price from Las Vegas. Additional coverage from Steve Peoples in Nashville, Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Alexandra Jaffe, Stephen Braun and Zeke Miller in Washington, and Aamer Madhani in Chicago.