The second and final 2020 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden took place Thursday night at the Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The debate took place under health and safety protocols in force due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and was moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC news.
Welker appealed to the two candidates to speak one at a time as the debate started — and found a lot more success in getting Trump and Biden to not speak over each other than Fox News anchor Chris Wallace did in the first debate.
New rules were announced for the 90-minute debate this week, which required both Trump and Biden’s microphones to be on mute while the other contestant made opening remarks.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the presidential debate.
COVID-19 Response: The two presidential hopefuls again clashed over the pandemic response.
Biden blamed Trump’s inept handling of the pandemic for the shutdowns that swept the United States, while Trump pointed the finger at Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and others from states like California, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina for tight shutdowns.
Trump defended his handling of the pandemic, saying, the mortality rate had climbed down 85%. The president sounded a note of hope, saying, a vaccine could be announced within weeks, although later he admitted that he could not “guarantee” it. According to Trump, the COVID-19 vaccine candidates of Johnson & Johnson JNJ, Moderna Inc MRNA, and Pfizer Inc PFE are doing “very well.”
Biden bemoaned the lack of a “comprehensive plan” to deal with COVID-19, adding that the U.S. was headed for a “dark winter” with respect to the pandemic.
International Relations: Biden named Russia, Iran, and China as countries that had been involved in U.S. electoral interference, and said any country making such attempts under his administration will “pay a price.”
The former vice president castigated Trump for being unwilling to “take on” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump, in return, claimed foreign powers wanted him to lose because he was tough on them and went on to cite sanctions against Russia as an example.
Biden attacked Trump, alleging he paid more taxes in China than he did in the U.S. and had a “secret” bank account in the country.
On China, Biden said he would make the country “play by the international rules,” unlike what Trump had done. The former vice president said Trump embraced “thugs” like North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, while antagonizing U.S. allies.
Trump said his “good relationship” with Kim helped avert a war, which could have killed “millions and millions” of people.
Healthcare: Trump claimed that the elimination of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was a big achievement. He said he would like to terminate Obamacare and come up with a “brand new” healthcare plan. Trump reiterated accusations about his opponent vying for socialized healthcare.
Biden said he would pass Obamacare with a public option ushering in what he called “Bidencare.” He assured that private insurance would continue to be available under his plan. The former VP distanced himself from the views held by fellow Democrats like Bernie Sanders on matters related to healthcare, as Trump launched an attack on allegations of Biden’s socialist leanings.
Stock Market: Trump alleged that If Biden was elected, the stock market would crash, but if the president is reelected, it would boom.
“The idea that the stock market is booming is his only measure of what’s happening,” responded Biden. The Democrat touched on inequities and pointed to the increasing wealth gap as billionaires continue to get richer.
Racial Inequality: Biden said more was needed to be done in terms of education, healthcare, and schooling for minorities to end racial inequities in the U.S. society.
Trump accused Biden of not doing enough for minorities during the time he had been in government. He claimed no president had done more for the Black community than him since Abraham Lincoln.
Immigration: When asked about the over 500 children whose families cannot be located after they were separated from them as a result of immigration enforcement, Trump said “we’re working on it very hard.”
The president said that the children enter the country through cartels and people smugglers called “coyotes.” Biden claimed the children came to the country with their parents but were separated from them at the border — describing the act as “criminal.”
The former vice president said it took “too long” to undertake immigration reform during the Obama era, but he would charter a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people if elected.
Climate Change: Trump defended his track record on environment protection, claiming the U.S. had the best carbon emission numbers in 35 years under his administration.
The president said he took the country out of the Paris Accord because the U.S. would have had to spend “trillions of dollars” while being treated “very unfairly.” Trump claimed the accord would have destroyed U.S. businesses. In describing his environmental achievements, the president pointed out U.S. air and water quality and described other nations such as China, India, and Russia as “filthy.”
Biden laid out a vision under which protecting the environment would lead to job creation spanning “millions of jobs.” He claimed his environmental plan would create $1 trillion more in economic growth than his Republican rival.
Biden On EV Infrastructure: Biden said his administration would invest in 50,000 electric vehicle charging stations on the highways "so that we can own the electric car market of the future." Biden said this will both tackle climate change and create "new good-paying jobs."
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