FILE PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in their second 2020 presidential campaign debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Pool/File Photo


As most parents know, the threat of a punishment is more powerful than the punishment itself, and perhaps that’s why a mute button helped restore order in Thursday night’s last debate between President Donald Trump and his opponent, Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The two traded thoughts on the climate, the coronavirus and race in a debate where the topics, not their tempers, were the star.

The coronavirus — Trump said his actions helped snuff COVID-19, stating that 2.2 million people were expected to die, making the current death toll look almost palatable by comparison. “We closed up the world’s greatest economy,” Trump said, while pointing out that the mortality rate continues to go down. “It will go away, and as I say we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner,” he said. Trump used his own battle with the virus as an example: “I got better.”

Biden pointed out that the coronavirus was in a second (or third) wave in the U.S., with cases spiking at a higher rate since July, and that Trump had no clear plan for the winter. “I will take care of this,” Biden said. “I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan.”

Trump also said a vaccine was coming “in weeks,” despite – (albeit promising –) reports that it should take longer, and that all Biden talked about was “shutdowns.” Biden said in response that he would “shut down the virus, not the economy,” without giving specifics, and also said workers affected by the virus needed more help. Biden said the death toll alone shows that Trump’s response was insufficient. “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain president,” he said. 

Race — Trump suggested that he was the “least racist person in this room,” while Biden said Trump “had a dog whistle as big as a foghorn.” When asked to address people of color, Trump said, “No one has done more for the black community than Donald Trump, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln.” Biden then unleashed a bit of snark, stating “Abraham Lincoln here,” referring to Trump, “is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history.”

Trump said he worked to get prison and criminal reform during his term, as well as taking care of Black colleges and universities but also referred to his first experience with Black Lives Matter when he saw people marching and chanting that police officers should fry “like pigs in a blanket,” calling that a “horrible thing.” 

“I don’t know what to say. They can say anything,” Trump said to a question stating some may be concerned about his tweets and statements during his presidency. “It makes me sad.”

Climate — Biden and Trump both caused a stir over their comments on the climate. A few Democrats already made it a point to say they disagreed with Biden over his comment that he would “transition from the oil industry.” 

“It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time,” Biden said. “And I’d stop giving to the oil industry—I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. [Trump] won’t give federal subsidies to solar and wind. Why are we giving it to the oil industry?” Biden also said he would rule out banning fracking but that the U.S. needed other energy-producing industries to get to zero emissions by 2025. 

Those industries, Biden said, include wind and solar energy, what he called the fastest growing industry in America. Trump, he said, thinks windmills cause cancer. That drew Trump’s ire: “I know more about wind than you do,” Trump retorted, drawing an exasperated laugh from Biden. “It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds.” Biden said Wall Street firms indicated that his climate plan would create 18.6 million jobs, 7 million more than Trump’s, to which Trump called Biden’s plan “an economic disaster.” “It was developed by AOC plus three,” Trump said in reference to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “She knows nothing about the climate.”

Trump said, “I do love the environment” but also said he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement because “we were treated very unfairly.” “They were going to take away our businesses,” Trump said. He also said the U.S. was limited in what it could do to reduce emissions because of other industries around the world. “Look at China, how filthy it is,” Trump said. “Look at Russia. Look at India. It’s filthy.”

Biden called global warming “an existential threat to humanity.” “We have a moral obligation to deal with it,” he said. “We can grow, and we can be cleaner.”


“This guy”: Trump-Biden personal venom was on full display during final debate – Axios – 10/23/2020
Joe Biden twice referred to President Trump as “this guy,” and Trump called the former vice president’s family “like a vacuum cleaner” for foreign money.

‘Presidential’ Trump helped himself in final debate – Washington Examiner – 10/23/2020
On Thursday, Trump cooled it down and is likely to reap a benefit for making watching an easier experience for those millions who tuned in a second time.

Why Joe Biden won the final debate – The Week – 10/23/2020
In Nashville on Thursday night, Donald Trump and Joe Biden fought to a draw on the debate stage — which means that Biden won, and won big.

FactChecking the Final 2020 Presidential Debate – – 10/23/2020
The candidates repeated talking points from the stump and added some new twists on the facts.

This Was a Pretty Good Debate. Who Cares? – Politico – 10/23/2020
The result: No disaster. No national embarrassment with a debate that hurtled off the rails. And likely no big alterations in a race that has stayed basically stable even through 2020’s twin traumas of pandemic and racial unrest and will finally end just eleven days from now.

The Issues That Divide People Within Each Party – FiveThirtyEight – 10/23/2020
There is no shortage of issues that divide Democrats and Republicans — the presidential election, the Supreme Court confirmation vote, etc. But let’s spend a little time today looking at issues that split voters within the two parties.

Biden pressed over debate comment that he would ‘transition from the oil industry’ – Fox News – 10/23/2020
After the final debate on Thursday night, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was pressed by reporters on his comments about fossil fuels, following his remarks that he plans to “transition from the oil industry.” […] With Trump playing defense in a number of states that he won in 2016 ‒ including Texas, which has become more and more purple rather than red in recent years ‒ the candidates’ stances on fossil fuels, which still make a lot of money for a number of states, are likely to be closely scrutinized by voters in those states.


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