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Trump, Biden debate for final time

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Oct. 22.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Oct. 22.

The final debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took place, Oct. 22, at Belmont University, in Nashville, Tennessee with Kristen Welker of NBC moderating.

In response to the disruptions that took place in the first debate, only the candidate who had the floor had his microphone turned on — the other candidate was temporarily muted — to avoid interruptions.

COVID-19 guidelines required everyone in the audience to wear masks, and candidates were safely distanced apart. Both sides also agreed to not shake hands.

The first topic was coronavirus, with Welker asking Trump how he would lead the country in the next phase of COVID-19.

“As you know, 2.2 million people were expected to die. We closed the greatest economy in the world to fight this horrible disease that came from China,” Trump said. “The mortality rate is down, 85 percent. The excess mortality rate is way down and lower than any other country. There was a spike in Florida and it’s now gone. There was a very big spike in Arizona. It’s now gone. We have a vaccine that is ready, and it will be announced within weeks and it will be delivered.”

While it’s true that Florida, Texas and Arizona experienced high spike levels during the summer, then saw a decrease in cases for a few months, but according to ABC News, cases in all three states have been steadily rising for the last several weeks.

Additionally, ABC News reports death rates have fallen significantly since the spring, but they are not down 85 percent. Rather, they are down 62 percent and are currently trending up again nationwide.

The same question was asked of Biden, to which he responded, “220,000 Americans dead...we are in a situation where there are 1,000 deaths a day...the expectation is we will have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year...I would make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time, make sure we move in the direction of rapid testing, and invest in rapid testing. I would make sure we set up national standards how to open schools and businesses so they can be safe.”

Welker followed up on Trump’s statement that a vaccine would be ready within weeks. She asked if that was guaranteed.

“No, it is not a guarantee, but it has a good chance. Two companies within a matter of weeks,” Trump said.

Welker asked which companies and Trump said that Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer are doing well.

Welker asked Biden what steps he would take to give Americans confidence in a vaccine if one is approved. Biden said he would make sure the entire process is totally transparent.

Welker then asked the candidates about their different strategies towards dealing with the virus. She mentioned how Biden said he would support shutdowns if scientists recommended it. Welker asked Biden what he would say to Americans who fear the impact on the economy, depression, domestic substance abuse will outweigh exposure to the virus.

“I would say I will shut down the virus and not the country,” Biden said. “We need standards...more social distancing. Do not open bars and gymnasiums, do not open until you get this under more control. When you do open, give people the capacity to open, and do it safely. Schools need a lot of money, they need to deal with ventilation systems and smaller classes, more teachers.”

In response to this statement, Trump said, “We will not shut down. We have to open our schools. I have a young son who also tested positive. By the time I spoke to the doctor, he was fine. It went away. Young people, I guess it’s their immune system.”

Welker asked Trump what he would say to parents who worry that sending their children to school would endanger not only their kids, but their teachers and families.

“I want to open the schools, the transmittal rate to teachers is small. I want to open the schools and our country,” Trump said. “We cannot keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy. People are losing their jobs, committing suicide, depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody has seen before. Tremendous abuse. We have to open our country. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

According to a new guidance note by the CDC, there is a body of evidence growing that children might play a role in the transmission of the virus.

Moving on to the next topic regarding national security, Welker brought up the recent news about how Russia and Iran working together to influence the election, and asked Biden what he would do to end the threat.

“I made it clear that any country, no matter who, if they interfere with American elections, they will pay a price,” Biden said. “It has been overwhelmingly clear this election that Russia has been involved, China has been involved, and now we learn that Iran is involved. They will pay a price if I am elected. Interfering with American sovereignty, that is what is going on.”

The same question was directed towards Trump. He said between sanctions, nobody has been tougher on Russia than he has.

The next topic was about American families and the economy. Welker said the current administration is advocating for the courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act. She said that more than 20 million Americans get their health insurance from the ACA, and if it’s overturned, they would no longer have health insurance. Welker asked Trump what he would do if these people have their health insurance taken away.

“First of all, I’ve already done something that nobody thought was possible,” Trump said. “Through the legislature, I terminated the individual mandate where you have to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health insurance, I terminated...So, I’d like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new, beautiful healthcare.”

Welker then asked Biden what his plan is if the ACA is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option, and become Bidencare,” Biden said. “The public option is an option that says that if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies. Secondly, we’re going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there’s competition, that doesn’t exist now, by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the insurance companies. Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan.”

The next topic discussed was immigration. The United States can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children who were separated at the Mexico border, and Welker asked Trump how these families will be reunited.

“Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels,” Trump said. “We now have as strong a border as we’ve ever had. We’re over 400 miles of brand-new wall.”

Failing to answer the question, Welker had to ask Trump if he has a plan to reunite these children with their families.

“Yes. We’re working on it very hard,” Trump said. “But a lot of these kids come out without the parents. They come over through cartels and through coyotes and through gangs.”

Homeland Security officials have said that coyotes are people who transport the families for a fee. But there has not been widespread evidence of cases of people falsely presenting themselves as related, with border patrol documenting them as “family units.”

The conversation was then directed towards Biden.

“Coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them,” Biden said. “They got separated from their parents. And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation. It’s criminal.”

Trump then said that the children in the cages are so well taken care of and the facilities they are in are so clean. According to ABC News, critics of Trump's policy questioned the conditions the children were kept in initially at border stations after several died from the flu.

Welker asked Biden what his immigration plan will be if he is elected.

“Within 100 days, I’m going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people,” Biden said. “And all of those dreamers, those DACA kids, they’re going to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship...many of them are model citizens. Over 20,000 of them are first responders out there taking care of people during this crisis. We owe them.”

The next topic discussed was race. Welker asked Biden if he understands why Black and brown Americans fear for their children’s lives.

“I do. I never had to tell my daughter if she’s pulled over, make sure she puts both hands on top of the wheel and don’t reach for the glove box because someone may shoot you,” Biden said. “But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child that when they’re walking down the street, don’t have a hoodie on, or if they get pulled over just, yes, sir, no, sir. Hands on top of the wheel. The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America.”

Trump was also asked if he understands the situation.

“Yes, I do. (Biden’s) been in government for 47 years and never did a thing, except in 1994 when he did such harm to the black community and called them super predators,” Trump said. “Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump. And if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln — possible exception — but the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I’ve done.”

According to ABC News, it was then first lady Hillary Clinton who used the phrase “super predators” to refer to African Americans in this country back in 1996.

Welker directed the next question to Trump, and brought up the fact that he has described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate, and how he shared a video of a man chanting white power to millions of his supporters. She also explained how Trump said that Black professional athletes exercising their First Amendment rights should be fired. Welker asked Trump what he would say to Americans who say that kind of language from a president is contributing to a climate of hate and racial strife.

“Well, you have to understand the first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting, ‘Pigs in a blanket,’ talking about police — pigs, pigs — talking about our police,” Trump said. “And that was my first glimpse of Black Lives Matter, I thought it was a terrible thing. As far as my relationships with all people, I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room.”

Biden responded to Trump’s claims.

 “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history,” Biden said. “He pours fuel on every single racist fire, every single one. Started off his campaign coming down the escalator saying he’s getting rid of those Mexican rapists. He’s banning Muslims because they’re Muslims. He has moved around and made everything worse across the board.”

Climate change was the next topic discussed. Directed to both candidates, Welker asked how the two of them would combat climate change and support job growth at the same time.

“So, we have the trillion trees program, we have so many different programs, I do love the environment, but what I want is that cleanest crystal-clear water, the cleanest air,” Trump said. “And we have the best carbon emission numbers that we’ve had in 35 years under this administration, we are working so well with industry...we are energy independent for the first time.”

According to ABC News, many parts of the country rely on oil from other countries, thus not making the U.S. fully energy independent.

Biden said climate change is an existential threat to humanity.

“We have a moral obligation to deal with it,” Biden said. “I was able to get all the environmental organizations as well as the labor, the people worried about jobs, to support my climate plan.”

The last question of the debate was about leadership. Welker asked both candidates to imagine it was their inauguration day and what they would say in their address to Americans who did not vote for them.

“We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China,” Trump said. “Now we’re rebuilding it and we’re doing record numbers, 11.4 million jobs in a short period of time, et cetera. But, I will tell you, go back. Before the plague came in, just before, I was getting calls from people that were not normally people that would call me. They wanted to get together. We had the best Black unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic, women, Asian, people with diplomas, with no diplomas, MIT graduates; number one in the class, everybody had the best numbers.

“And you know what? The other side wanted to get together. They wanted to unify. Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success. But I’m cutting taxes, and he wants to raise everybody’s taxes and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a Depression, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Biden said he would call for unity.

“I will say, I’m an American President. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me, and I’m going to make sure that you’re represented,” Biden said. “I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to move; we’re going to choose science over fiction. We’re going to choose hope over fear. We’re going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better. We can grow this economy, we can deal with the systemic racism. At the same time, we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy, creating millions of new jobs. That’s the fact, that’s what we’re going to do.

“And I’m going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect. Treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven’t been getting it the last four years.”

Election day is Nov. 3. Early voting in Texas continues through Oct. 30.

For a complete transcript of the debate, click here.

Category: News