Final Trump Biden Debate: Highlights & Key Talking Points

Final Trump Biden Debate: Highlights & Key Talking Points[Image: Amr Alfiky/The New York Times]

Donald Trump and Joe Biden addressed several key issues in the final debate ahead of the November 3 elections in Nashville Tennessee on Thursday night. We have highlighted some of the key talking points.

Many people will be praising the decision to change the rules for the debate to include a “mute button” in order to avoid the constant interruptions that defined the first debate. Kristen Welker, the moderator on the night, did a fantastic job covering numerous important issues, from COVID-19 and healthcare to racial issues and climate change. Where the first debate fell flat in terms of Trump and Biden differentiating themselves from one another in terms of policy positions, Thursday night’s debate flourished.

COVID-19

Biden lashed into Trump for his poor performance in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, his denial of scientific evidence, and the body count of more than 200,000 dead Americans as a consequence of his bad policies. The former Vice President claimed that he will encourage mask wearing and other safety protocols in order to save lives while allowing the US economy to continue functioning. He also tore into Trump’s downplaying of the virus in its early stages, where he said it will miraculously disappear by Easter.

Trump, on the other hand, claims that Biden would not have imposed a travel ban on China, due to the former Vice President’s accusations that Trump is a xenophobe. He also claimed that he prevented the death toll from hitting the 2 million mark, which is what he claims was what models predicted the death toll would be at the start of the pandemic.  He also claimed to be looking out for the economic health of the nation and insisted that he wants to send children back to school.

“By the way, all you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die,” Biden responded mockingly.

Healthcare

Trump said that Biden’s plan, which would provide a “public option” that gives Americans the ability to buy into a government plan, would eliminate private insurance. Biden dismissed “the idea that I want to eliminate private insurance,” saying that it was “reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination.”

“I support private insurance,” he said, “that’s why not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan.”

“When he says public option, he’s talking about socialized medicine and health care,” Trump said of Biden, referring to government-run health care programs. “When he talks about a public option, he’s talking about destroying your Medicare,” which is a government-run health care program.

Race & Crime

Biden called President Trump “one of the most racist presidents in history”, while Trump claims to have done more for black Americans than any person since Abraham Lincoln.

“Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history,” Mr. Biden said, mockingly. “He pours fuel on every single racist fire.”

“This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn,” he added, before referencing Trump’s previous comments refusing to disavow the white supremacist group, The Proud Boys. He also referred to Trump’s statements about the Central Park five, where he called for innocent black men to face the death penalty.

However, Trump made reference to the low unemployment rate among minorities of all kind in America to support his claim that he is resolving the economic issues on race, while also pointing to his favourable record on criminal justice reform.

He also put Biden under the microscope for his support of the 1994 Crime Bill, which led to the mass incarceration of Americans, most of which are black, for drug possession. Biden acknowledged that his support for the legislation was a mistake and claims that he will be focussed on helping addicts recover in his presidency, as opposed to imprisoning them.

Corruption

Trump repeatedly leveled unsupported allegations against Biden and his son, Hunter, in an attempt to cast his rival and his family as corrupt.

“I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine, you do,” Trump said.

Biden hit back with a point about Trump’s Chinese bank account but left out the fact that Ivanka Trump was awarded multiple patents from China during Trump’s first year in office. Instead, Biden tried to take attention away from the candidates’ families, to which Trump responded by saying Biden is “just a typical politician,” mockingly adding, “come on, Joe, you can do better.”

Climate change

Biden, who has vowed to make the US a signatory of the Paris Climate accord again and to achieved carbon neutrality by 2035, discussed the need to scale back on fossil fuel energy dependency in the US and to stave off the job losses that will result from it by creating new jobs in the sustainable energy industry. He plans to build charging stations across the country to help America lead the way in the electric automotive industry. He also wants to reduce emissions in poor neighbourhoods, which are situated near pollutive power plants.

Trump, on the other hand, says that carbon emissions are at their lowest levels in 35 years as a result of his policies and that the economy has thrived due to his rolling back of regulations. He insists that the economic costs of Biden’s plan would be too high. He took the opportunity to capture the attention of voters in Texas and Pennsylvania when Biden started discussing  his plan to make a transition from the oil industry.

 

While the Nashville debate was certainly far better than the disastrous Cleveland debate and a number of key issues were brought to light, one must be wary of overstating the success of the debate and the opportunity it gives for Americans to truly understand the political direction that they are about to take when they cast their votes in less than a fortnight. It wasn’t exactly a deep dive into complex issues and, as one can expect, Trump was not capable of formulating coherent arguments or providing evidence to substantiate some of his bold claims. But, this will be Trump’s final debate ever, and by Trump’s standards, it can be considered one of the more productive debates that we’ve seen from the political maverick.

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