In the last debate Thursday night before the Nov. 3 election, a much more reserved and presidential Donald Trump set out to label Democratic challenger Joe Biden as a corrupt, do-nothing politician in an appeal to the American people to grant him four more years.
During the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, moderated by NBC News’ Kristen Welker, Trump routinely hit Biden for being “all talk, no action” and pressed him on why he didn’t accomplish reforms while he was the vice president or in the Senate. At one point, he looked at Biden and said, “I ran because of you … because I thought you did a poor job.”
Biden weathered the attacks and shot back characterizing Trump as a president unfit for office and unable to handle the responsibility of leading a nation.
On the coronavirus: The first question of the night predictably was about the coronavirus pandemic, which Welker described as entering a “dangerous new phase.”
Though usually a weak point for Trump, the president seemed to handle himself ably on the topic, even getting in a good dig on Biden regarding shutdowns, saying, “We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.” Biden espoused a grim tone on the topic, warning that America is heading into a “dark winter” and that, contrary to Trump’s suggestion that Americans are “learning to live with” the virus, under Trump’s leadership, they are actually “learning to die with it.”
Foreign entanglements: Welker artfully facilitated discussion on the hot-button issue of the debate — Hunter Biden’s laptop — by lumping the controversy into what she called “foreign entanglements” involving each candidate. Once the conversation was underway, it turned into perhaps the most fiery spat of the debate. Trump pressed Biden on new reports about his family profiting off of his high-profile government position, and Biden shot back at Trump over his tax returns and foreign investments.
At one point, Biden made a statement he will almost certainly regret, claiming: “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life.”
Unfortunately, Welker never specifically cornered the former vice president into answering the New York Post’s bombshell reports about his family allegedly profiting off his position in government and kicking back proceeds to him.
Immigration: Trump wiggled out of what could have been a detrimental segment for him on the topic of child separations at the border by noting that the “cages,” or chain-linked holding centers, where illegal immigrant children are kept were built during the Obama administration. Trump repeatedly taunted the former vice president, saying, “Who built the cages, Joe?” while he was castigating Trump for “ripping” children from their families.
Biden then promised to implement a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and DACA recipients.
Regardless of political persuasion, everyone will likely agree that this debate was far more rewarding for viewers.
Surprisingly, the addition of the mute button seemed to be an obvious success as each candidate was able to answer initial questions without interruption or provocation.