President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger former Vice President Joe Biden squared off in their final debate on Thursday where they discussed the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, immigration and more.
Here are nine things we learned from the debate:
Thursday night’s debate in Nashville was supposed to be the 3rd and final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. However, after the president backed out of the Miami town hall, the Thursday night debate became the final debate of 2020.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it would be implementing a mute button to mute the microphone of the candidate not speaking. It’s unclear if the mute was ever used as both candidates seemed to allow each other to talk with only the occasional interruption of one another and the moderator. If the first debate was marked by interruptions and chaos the final debate was a much more cordial affair.
The first issue of the night is the main issue, according to polls, on voter’s minds: COVID-19. The president sought to frame the issue by discussing therapeutics and the push for a vaccine, saying one would be available within weeks. Although when pressed, the president expanded the timeline, something that both pharmaceutical companies and the CDC have indicated in remarks, saying that a vaccine may not be ready until the end of the year or the 1st of next year, with wide distribution not available until the spring or later. He also criticized Biden for saying he’d lock the country down again, saying that would have an enormous toll on health and the economy.
In his remarks, former Vice President Joe Biden said that missteps by the administration, including downplaying the severity of the virus early in the year as well as not advocating for help and public health precautions, cost the country time and cost the country lives. Biden was critical of the President for downplaying COVID in “blue states” saying a leader needs to protect Americans in every state. Biden said he would not lock the country down, but listen to medical experts and local communities.
The president pressed the former vice president on the money he’s made since leaving office including allegations that his son, Hunter Biden, made money by exploiting the family name and contacts. Biden dismissed these charges calling them “unfounded.” He countered by saying that he’s released all of his tax returns and noted that the president has not.
One week after the November 3 presidential election, The United States Supreme Court will hear a case that could potentially end the Affordable Care Act. The president indicated that he would like to replace the ACA with something else, stating a desire to protect preexisting conditions. Biden noted that so far the only plan put forward by Republicans was in 2017 and would have dramatically increased the cost of health care on those with preexisting conditions, saying it would be simpler to improve on the ACA rather than start from scratch.
On the issue of global warming and pollution the candidates were at odds over oil and pollution. Biden said he’d like to transition the oil industry as a way of reducing pollution, while the President talked about getting Russia and Saudi Arabia to curb oil production.
More than 48 million Americans have already voted in the election, about 1/3 of the total number of votes expect this election. With less than 2-weeks left and so many votes already cast, it’s unclear if anything from Thursday will change the race.
Both campaigns, as well as many of her peers, had extremely high praise for debate moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News. Even the president praised her for her work keeping the debate moving and keeping candidates on topic.