President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden faced off in their final debate Thursday night, leading up to the presidential election on Nov. 3.
As of Thursday evening, more than 48.5 million voters have cast ballots in the 2020 election, according to Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida who specializes in elections and the U.S. Elections Project.
According to ABC News, Biden, the Democratic nominee, appears to be leading Trump, the Republican nominee, in the early stages of voting.
The debate was one of only two formal debates where the two front-running presidential candidates stood together on a stage to discuss important topics and challenges facing Americans today.
The debate was moderated by Kristen Welker, a reporter for NBC News, and broadcasted from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
A wide variety of topics were discussed, including COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, national security and immigration.
Moderator Kristen Welker had each candidate describe how they would continue to fight COVID-19 if they win the election.
Biden shared that he will not and does not rule out government-enforced shutdowns due to the pandemic. He said that he believes in an America that is focused on social distancing, plastic dividers in bars/restaurants and a strong enforcement of masks.
“I will shut down the virus, not the country,” Biden said.
Trump replied that, “We are not going to shut down.” His approach was about learning to live in the pandemic while opening schools, restaurants and the economy.
The FBI released information confirming that foreign governments such as Russia and Iran have had an influence in the past two presidential elections. This comes just days after Iran was linked to emails meant to intimidate voters in Florida.
Welker asked each candidate to explain whether or not they would hold these countries accountable if they were elected.
“They will pay a price,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, Trump accused Biden of receiving over $3.5 million from Russia. He claimed that, “There has been no one more hard on Russia than Donald Trump.”
Biden defended himself by stating, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign country in my life,” which was followed with accusations of foreign exchange deals hidden in Trump’s un-released tax returns.
Trump stated that he is currently working with accountants to release information on his low tax rates, after accusations of him only paying $750 in taxes recently surfaced.
“I prepaid millions and millions in taxes,” Trump said.
“He’s been saying this for four years. Show us, just show us,” Biden responded.
Work related to Hunter Biden and his international work
With accusations about Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, working with and receiving money from international countries, Welker asked Biden specifically whether or not Hunter’s work was ethical.
“Nothing was unethical,” Biden said.
That was followed up immediately by claims from Biden stating that Trump tried to bribe Ukraine to say something about Biden and his son.
Trump denied all allegations.
Trump’s bank account in China
Welker specifically asked Trump about his bank account in China, wondering if the American people should be concerned about coercion.
“I was a businessman doing business,” Trump said.
Trump states that he opened the account in 2013 and closed it in 2015, prior to his official announcement to run for U.S. president back in 2016.
“What I would do is make China play by the international rules,” Biden stated.
Biden said if he was elected president, he would not allow China to set regulations over Americans’ freedoms.
Trump claims that he already holds China accountable.
“China is paying billions and billions of dollars [to farmers in America],” Trump said.
Welker followed up the discussion about China with a discussion on North Korea.
Trump began by saying how proud he was of his ‘really good relationship’ with North Korea leader Kim Jong–un and his ability to prevent war with the country. As Biden argued the opposite, Trump focused on the positive outcomes of strong partnership with other international country leaders.
Biden stated that he would make it clear to North Korea that they have to be a part of ‘the deal.’ He called Kim Jong-un a ‘thug’ and that he would only meet with the North Korean leader if they previously agreed to draw down their nuclear capabilities.
American Families and Economy (Healthcare)
Trump stated that “ObamaCare is no good” and hinted towards terminating the current healthcare program and creating his own plan that would protect those with pre-existing conditions and lower premiums.
Biden said he would focus on building off of ObamaCare.
“What I am going to do is pass ObamaCare with a public option – called Biden Care,” Biden said.
He stated his plan would reduce premiums and drug prices.
12 Million People Out of Work
Welker asked both candidates to speak in regards to the high volume of Americans out of work, with a high population of those unemployed being women and those of color.
Welker asked Trump why he hasn’t pushed through the current plan on the senate that would help those in this situation.
“Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve anything,” Trump said. “We are willing and able to do something.”
Biden claimed the reason the deal hasn’t gone through is because Trump doesn’t have the Republican vote.
Welker then turned to Biden and asked why he is not working with Democrats to get the plan approved.
Biden claimed that he pushed it during the summer and it’s been sitting on the senate floor for quite some time.
With many American’s hurting financially, Welker asked each candidate to share their opinion on an increased nation-wide minimum wage.
Biden shared a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15, where the government would help the businesses pay for the increased wage.
Trump claimed that raising the minimum wage would only hurt small businesses even more. Instead, Trump proposed an idea where the minimum wage would continue to be regulated state by state.
However, Trump did say he would consider a minimum wage increase, “but not a level to put businesses out of business.”
With the recent release of over 500 children being stuck in border control without their parents, Welker asked Trump how that happened.
Trump avoided the essence of the question and stated, “We now have a stronger border than we ever have.”
Trump then turned the spotlight towards Biden stating that during 2014 and under the Obama-Biden administration, immigrants were put into cages.
Biden originally deferred from the question, and then after some time stated, “We made a mistake.”
Biden then focused on the essence of the question; over 500 kids that came with parents are now separated from them. He stated that this violates who we are as a nation and what is happening is completely wrong.
Race in America – “The Talk”
Welker referred to “The Talk,” where Black parents have to talk to their kids about the color of their skin and what to do when faced with specific circumstances.
In reference to this information, Welker asked each candidate to speak directly to those who were watching that had to deal with this. She wanted to know how these individuals could rely on the candidate if they were elected president.
“You are in-fact a victim,” Biden said. “We have never lived up to ‘all men are created equal.’”
Biden then claimed that Trump was the first president to stop people of color and Blacks from progressing in this country.
Trump responded by attacking Biden.
“Biden was in government for 47 years and did nothing besides cause harm to the Black community,” said Trump. “Besides the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, no one has done more for the Black people than Donald Trump.”
He claimed that he has started programs and has made investments into the Black and Hispanic communities throughout America.
Welker tried to refocus the candidates on the topic of race, and asked Trump why he spoke badly of the BLM movement at the beginning of the protests.
Trump defended himself by stating that his first glimpse of the BLM movement was during a march where protestors were yelling, “Pigs in a blanket, fry em’ like bacon” while walking down the street.
He then followed that statement up by saying, “I am the least racist person in this room.”
When asked about climate change, Trump stated, “What I want is the cleanest, clearest water. Cleanest and clearest air.”
He went on to state that the United States has the best carbon emissions that it has had in over 35 years.
In regards to the Paris Accord, Trump said that he will not sacrifice jobs and businesses because of it.
“We have done an incredible job environmentally,” Trump said.
“Climate change and global warming is an existential threat to humanity,” Biden said. “We have to listen to scientists.”
Biden went on to say that America is running out of time, but he has a climate plan that will create new jobs, 50,000 charging stations on highways and a reuse of 4 million buildings and 2 million homes so that they don’t leak electricity.
Trump closed by focusing on a more unified country, moving forward through the pandemic, economic downfalls and tumultuous times.
Biden said that if he was elected, he would remind the Americans that he is the American president, focused on representing everyone. He would also focus on choosing to move forward.
Biden closed the debate by reminding the American people that the “character of the country is on the ballot.”
The presidential election will be held Nov. 3 and will determine the U.S. president for the next four years.
Story by: Easton Bowring