This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on October 23, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.
The Second and Final Debate: President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden squared off in Nashville, Tennessee last night for the final debate before the election on November 3rd. It was a much calmer affair due in part to the fact that each candidate’s microphone was switched off while his opponent made a two-minute introductory statement on a topic. Even after mute was removed the candidates mostly allowed each other to speak. A record 47 million Americans have already cast ballots, eclipsing total early voting from the 2016 election. This means fewer voters haven’t made up their minds. Here is what each candidate said about some of the most important topics facing the country now and heading into the next four years. This edition is a little longer than normal but it’s a Friday morning during a pandemic and most likely the last time these two will ever be on the same debate stage together. Make yourself a cup of coffee and soak in the history:
- Trump said, “we’re fighting it and we’re fighting it hard” and argued that the U.S. is “rounding the corner.” Trump added: “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault. And you know what? It’s not Joe’s fault that it came here either. It’s China’s fault.” In regards to more lockdowns, Trump said: “The fear cannot be worse than the problem itself and that’s what’s happening.”
- Biden said, “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” Biden added he would encourage everyone to wear masks, encourage rapid testing, and set up national standards for school and business openings. In regards to restrictions, Biden said he would not rule out more shutdowns saying, “We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
- Reaction: Left-leaning outlets amplified the following exchange: When Trump said, ‘We’re Learning to Live With It’; Biden said we’re ‘Learning to Die With It’.
Money From Foreign Sources:
- Trump pressed Biden over his son’s business dealings overseas, which the Democratic nominee dismissed as Russian propaganda.
- Biden said, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”
- Reaction: right-leaning commentators felt like moderator Kristen Welker didn’t give enough time to new revelations about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. Megyn Kelly tweeted: “I’m sorry but 30 secs on the Hunter allegations is a joke.”
- Biden pressed President Trump repeatedly on his refusal to release his tax returns. “You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns,” Biden said. “What are you hiding?”
- Trump said he will release his tax returns after an Internal Revenue Service audit is complete.
Kitchen Table Topics:
- Biden said, “You’re sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding, well, we can’t get new tires, they’re bald…Or are we going to be able to pay the mortgage? Who’s going to tell her she can’t go back to community college?
- President Trump said Mr. Biden was dodging questions about how his family benefited from his role as Vice President saying: “That’s a typical political statement. Let’s get off this China thing and then he looks, the family, around the table, everything. … I’m not a typical politician that’s why I got elected.”
- Biden criticized Trump for being proud of the relationship he’s established with North Korea under his watch. “That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe,” Mr. Biden said. “The Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear-free zone,” Mr. Biden added.
- “You know what, North Korea, we’re not in a war, we have a good relationship. Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing,” Mr. Trump said.
- Trump said 180 million people have “great, public health care” and Biden is going to “terminate all those policies.” Trump said Mr. Biden will destroy Medicare, which Biden disputed.
- Biden said “people deserve to have affordable health care,” adding “I support private insurance.” He said it’s not a socialist plan because people can choose whether to buy into the public option.
- Biden says he would push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and rejects the idea that it would hurt small businesses. “There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business,” Biden said.
- Trump argued that the minimum wage should be left as an issue for the states to determine. He says, “How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages? What’s going to happen, and what’s been proven to happen, is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees.”
- Joe Biden said the relief package’s path to passage was being blocked by Senate Republicans.
- Trump blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) for the monthslong impasse.
- Takeaway: Trump said he was confident he would be able to persuade the Senate GOP to support a deal if one can be reached.
- “I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump said, citing the criminal justice reform that his administration worked with congress to pass. “With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but the exception of Abraham Lincoln nobody has done what I’ve done.” The president pointed to when Biden used the term “super-predator” to describe minorities when selling his tough-on-crime proposal that he shepherded into law when he was in the U.S. Senate and serving as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “You have done nothing other than the crime bill, which put tens of thousands of black men mostly in jail,” Mr. Trump said.
- Biden accused President Trump of halting progress toward equality. “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history, he pours fuel on every single racist fire,” Mr. Biden quipped. “This guy has a dog whistle about as big as a fog horn.”
- Trump said, “We’re trying very hard,” when asked how the government would reunite 500 children who were still separated from their families as a result of his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. The President said it was the Obama administration who built the cages at the border.
- “It makes us a laughing stock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation,” Biden responded. The former vice president called the separation policy “criminal.”
- Trump touted what his China policy has achieved, pointing to a 25% tariff on imported steel. “They were killing our steel industry,” Trump said. “Now we have the steel industry.” Trump also said he just paid $28 billion to farmers, referring to farm subsidies, because China was “getting money off of farmers, our great farmers.”
- Biden argued these subsidies are paid by taxpayers in the US adding, “We are 25% of the world’s economy. We need to be having the rest of our friends with us saying to China, ‘These are the rules. You play by them or you are going to pay the price,'” he said.
- “He was against fracking,” Trump said. “He said it … until he got the nomination, went to Pennsylvania, then he said — but you know what Pennsylvania, he’ll be against it very soon because his party is totally against it.”
- “Fracking on federal land, I said, no fracking and/or oil on federal land,” Biden responded.
Flag This: For the most part, the debate was well received by both sides. CNN’s banner read: “A more substantive debate but still full of fire and falsehoods.” Howard Kurtz wrote for Fox News: “Final Trump-Biden debate much better than first.” The New York Times titled their post-debate analysis: “In Calmer Debate, Biden and Trump Offer Sharply Divergent Visions for Nation.” The Wall Street Journal echoed, “Trump, Biden Clash Over Covid, Ethics in Calmer Presidential Debate.” Heading into the final stretch, the general consensus was that this was the type of tango the country needed before the Tuesday turnout on November 3rd.