Final presidential debate between Trump and Biden

Politics

This combination of Sept. 29, 2020, file photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(CBS) — President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will meet Thursday night in Nashville for their second and final debate. Ahead of the debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates said each candidate’s mic will be silenced while the other is giving their two-minute opening statement at the beginning of each of the 15-minute segments. 

Debate moderator Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for NBC News, said the following topics will be discussed: Fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership. 

Earlier Thursday, Mr. Trump went after Welker on Twitter as well as CBS News’ Lesley Stahl and “60 Minutes.” Mr. Trump called Welker “far worse” than Stahl, who he claimed had shown “bias, hatred and rudeness” in an interview with him. Mr. Trump violated an agreement with “60 Minutes” and posted his interview with Stahl on Thursday morning. 

This debate was originally intended to be the third presidential debate, but Mr. Trump refused to attend the second debate scheduled for October 15 when the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to make it virtual, in response to his COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Watch the debate:

Live Updates:

Trump: “I ran because of you, Joe”

9:33 p.m. — Mr. Trump questioned Biden on his accomplishments across his 47-year career in public service and said he decided to mount a run for president in 2015 because he believed the Obama administration did “a poor job.”

“I ran because of you, Joe,” the president said. “I ran because of you.”

Mr. Trump attributed Biden to other career politicians who fail to follow through on their promises.

“It’s all talk, no action with these politicians,” he said.

Biden, however, urged voters to evaluate the two candidates for president based on their character.

“I am anxious to have this race. I am anxious to see this take place,” the former vice president said. “The character of our country is on the ballot.”

The president, however, accused Biden of being a “corrupt politician,” citing recent reports of Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings.

“Don’t give me this stuff about how you’re this innocent baby,” Mr. Trump said.

But Biden called into question the source of a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden that was dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware and purported to hold damaging documents about the Bidens, noting 50 former intelligence officials believe it is part of a Russin disinformation campaign.

“You mean the laptop now is another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax?” Mr. Trump responded. “The laptop is Russia, Russia, Russia, you have to be kidding.”

Trump says he is the “least racist person in the room”

9:32 p.m. — Welker asked both candidates about “the talk” that Black parents have to give their children, discussing how to respond when pulled over by the police. Welker, who is Black, asked them if they understood why Black parents needed to warn their children about interactions with the police.

“I never had to tell my daughter if she’s pulled over for a traffic stop, put both hands on the wheel,” Biden said. “But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are,has to teach their children, don’t wear a hoodie walking across the street.”

Biden also said that “there is institutional racism in America,” and that the U.S. has “never, ever lived up” to the promise of liberty and equality for all.

“We have to provide for economic opportunity, better education, better health care,” Biden said. 

When asked about whether he understands “the talk,” Mr. Trump said he did before pivoting to talking about how his administration has aided Black Americans.

“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump,” Mr. Trump said, saying he has done more for Black Americans than any president other than Abraham Lincoln. He also slammed Biden for supporting a crime bill in the mid-1990s which led to harsher sentences for drug possession.

But Biden contrasted his character with that of the president, implying that he was more likely to help Black Americans.

“You know who I am. You know who he is,” Biden said, addressing viewers at home.

But Mr. Trump claimed that he didn’t “know what to say” in response to Americans who say that his words have fanned the flames of racial division.

“I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room,” Mr. Trump claimed.

“He pours fuel on every single racist fire,” Biden responded. “This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.”

Biden says family separations violated “every notion of who we are as a nation”

9:29 p.m. — Following the revelation that the Trump administration cannot locate the parents of more than 500 children who were detained at the border and separated from their families, Mr. Trump defended his immigration policies and said children are brought across the U.S.-Mexico border by coyotes and drug cartels.

“We now have as strong a border as we’ve ever had,” the president said, adding there have been more than 500 miles of new barrier built along the southern border. “They have to come in legally.” 

The president said his administration is “working on” reuniting children with their parents and “trying very hard” to do so.

Biden lambasted Mr. Trump’s family separation policy and said it was designed to disincentivize migrants from crossing the southern border. 

“It makes us a laughing stock,” he said. “It violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

Biden called the Trump administration’s inability to locate the parents of those children “criminal.” 

The president meanwhile, said undocumented children held in detention centers were “so well taken care of” and pressed Welker to ask Biden “who built the cages” shown in media reports.

Biden then stressed that he would put forth a plan for immigration reform within his first 100 days in office if elected, one that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, the name given to those protected from deportation under the Obama-era DACA program.

“We owe them,” he said.

Trump declines to detail replacement for Obamacare

9:15 p.m. — With the Supreme Court poised to decide the future of the Affordable Care Act and the Senate set to confirm Mr. Trump’s third appointee to the high court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the two candidates were asked to detail their health care plans should the justices vote to kill the Obama-era health care law.

Mr. Trump said he asked his administration to “run [Obamacare] as well as you can,” and said the cost of premiums have declined.

But if the Supreme Court finds the individual mandate unconstitutional and rules the rest of Obamacare cannot stand without the provision, Mr. Trump said he would put forth a “brand new, beautiful health care” plan.

“Always protecting people with pre-existing [conditions],” the president said. “We’re going to do even better.”

Mr. Trump, however, declined to put forth additional details. He has long promised to unveil a replacement for the ACA and has not done so.

Asked the same question, Biden said he would push for a version of Obamacare that includes a public option, deeming it “Bidencare.” Biden said his health care proposal would also allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with insurance companies and reduce premiums.

“He’s never come up with a plan,” the former vice president said. “I guess we’re going to get the pre-existing conditions plan at the same time we’ll get the infrastructure plan.”

Biden conceded his plan will cost $750 billion over 10 years, but will reduce prescription drug prices and address surprise billing.

In response, Mr. Trump said the public option means “socialized medicine.”

“He’s talking about destroying your Medicare and destroying your Social Security, and this whole country will come down,” the president said.

Biden pushed back, though, and stressed he split from his former Democratic presidential candidates who supported Medicare for All.

“He’s a very confused guy,” Biden said. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagree with them.”

Trump blames Pelosi for lack of progress on coronavirus relief bill

9:09 p.m. — Welker asked Mr. Trump about why he hasn’t pushed Congress to reach a deal on a coronavirus relief bill, as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and face food insecurity because of the pandemic.

“Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve it. I do,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have engaged in negotiations for weeks over a deal, but Mr. Trump said Pelosi was waiting until after the election.

“She’d love to have some victories on a date called November 3,” Mr. Trump said. Pelosi has repeatedly said that she wants to pass a stimulus bill before the election. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told Republican senators that he warned the White House against reaching a deal before the election.

Biden noted that the House passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May, and a slimmed-down $2.4 trillion bill last month.

“Why isn’t he talking to his Republican friends?” Biden said. “It’s not new. It’s been out there. This HEROES Act has been sitting there.”

Mr. Trump claimed that the HEROES Act, passed by Democrats, was a “bailout” for blue states. Biden said that, if elected, he would care about states controlled by Democrats and by Republicans.

“I don’t see red states and blue states. What I see is American, United States,” Biden said.

Trump declines to detail replacement for Obamacare

9:05 p.m. — With the Supreme Court poised to decide the future of the Affordable Care Act and the Senate set to confirm Mr. Trump’s third appointee to the high court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the two candidates were asked to detail their health care plans should the justices vote to kill the Obama-era health care law.

Mr. Trump said he asked his administration to “run [Obamacare] as well as you can,” and said the cost of premiums have declined.

But if the Supreme Court finds the individual mandate unconstitutional and rules the rest of Obamacare cannot stand without the provision, Mr. Trump said he would put forth a “brand new, beautiful health care” plan.

“Always protecting people with pre-existing [conditions],” the president said. “We’re going to do even better.”

Mr. Trump, however, declined to put forth additional details. He has long promised to unveil a replacement for the ACA and has not done so.

Pres. Trump says he wants to implement a “much better health care” alternative to Obamacare, without specifying what that would be, if the ACA is overturned by the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/XoE0e5Akyz— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 23, 2020

Asked the same question, Biden said he would push for a version of Obamacare that includes a public option, deeming it “Bidencare.” Biden said his health care proposal would also allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with insurance companies and reduce premiums.

“He’s never come up with a plan,” the former vice president said. “I guess we’re going to get the pre-existing conditions plan at the same time we’ll get the infrastructure plan.”

Biden conceded his plan will cost $750 billion over 10 years, but will reduce prescription drug prices and address surprise billing.

In response, Mr. Trump said the public option means “socialized medicine.”

“He’s talking about destroying your Medicare and destroying your Social Security, and this whole country will come down,” the president said.

Biden pushed back, though, and stressed he split from his former Democratic presidential candidates who supported Medicare for All.

“He’s a very confused guy,” Biden said. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagree with them.”

Fact check: Trump claim that 2.2 million were projected to die from COVID-19

9:02 p.m. — Statement by President Trump: “As you know, 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die.”

Claim: A scientific model forecast that 2.2 million people might die of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Fact check: True, but misleading 

Details: A March 16 report by Imperial College London projected there could be 2.2 million deaths after three months in the U.S. if no mitigation measures were taken.

“In the (unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior, we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately 3 months,” the report said. “In such scenarios, given an estimated R0 of 2.4, we predict 81% of the G.B. and U.S. populations would be infected over the course of the epidemic,” the report said. “In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in G.B. and 2.2 million in the U.S., not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality.”

However, the report specifically qualified its estimate, stating that this number could be reached in the “(unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior.”

Lete Childs 

Biden says he would make China “play by the international rules” if elected

8:58 p.m. — Welker asked Biden how he would respond to China’s recent aggressive tactics on the world stage.

“What I’d make China do is play by the international rules,” Biden said, adding that during the Trump administration, the trade deficit with China has gone “up, not down.” Biden gave the example of a meeting he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which Biden pushed back against Chinese maneuvers in the South China Sea. He contrasted his hard line with these leaders to Mr. Trump’s relationship with autocratic leaders.

“He embraces guys like the thugs in North Korea and the president in China and Putin and others,” Biden said.

Mr. Trump argued that “China is paying,” discussing recent tariffs on steel. But Biden said that these tariffs had hurt American families, and were paid for by the taxpayers.

“He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family or my family. It’s about your family,” Biden said, looking into the camera. Mr. Trump rejoined that Biden was acting like “just a typical politician” by changing the subject from China.

Welker also asked Mr. Trump about his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom the president has repeatedly praised.

“I have a very good relationship with him. Different kind of guy, but he probably thinks the same about me,” Mr. Trump said about Kim. Biden called Kim a “thug,” and said he wouldn’t meet with Kim until the North Korean leader agreed to draw down his nuclear capacity.

Mr. Trump said that it was not a bad thing to have a “good relationship” with Kim.

Biden retorted by saying that logic was akin to saying “we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe, the rest of Europe.”

Biden and Trump asked to discuss foreign entanglements

8:50 p.m. — Both Biden and Mr. Trump were asked about reports of foreign entanglements, with the president claiming the family of his Democratic rival has made money off of Biden’s position of power.

“The kind of things that you’ve done and the kind of money your family has taken … it’s all through you, Joe,” Mr. Trump said.

But Biden sought to clarify claims that his son Hunter Biden’s position on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while he was vice president presented a conflict of interest.

“Not one single solitary thing was out of line,” the former vice president said. “Not a single thing.”

Biden noted that during the impeachment proceedings that took place at the end of 2019 and into 2020, witnesses testified “I did my job impeccably.”

The former vice president also said it’s Mr. Trump, not his own family, who has made money from China.

The president conceded he did have bank accounts in foreign countries, but said an account in China was active only from 2013 to 2015.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Trump maintains bank accounts in China, Britain and Ireland.

“Unlike him where he’s vice president and he does business, I then decided to run for president after that, so I closed it before I even ran for president, let alone became president. Big difference,” the president said. “He’s the vice president of the United States and his son, his brother and his other brother are getting rich. They’re like a vacuum cleaner.”

Biden says any foreign power who interferes in election “will pay a price”

8:40 p.m. — Pivoting to election security, Welker asked Biden about how he would respond to foreign interference in American elections, after intelligence officials announced on Wednesday that Russia and Iran were attempting to meddle in the election.

“Any country, no matter who it is, interfering in an American election will pay a price,” Biden said. “This election, we know that Russia has been involved, China has been involved to some degree, and now we learn that Iran has been involved. They will pay a price if I’m elected.”

Biden said that foreign powers like Russia did not want him to get elected, because they knew he would be tough on them.

“They know that I know them. And they know me,” Biden said.

Mr. Trump argued that “there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.” He also discussed reports that Biden had received money from foreign companies, which Biden denied.

“I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life,” Biden said. He argued that he had released all of his tax returns, unlike the president. He raised reports that Mr. Trump has a bank account in China.

“Release your tax returns or don’t talk about corruption,” Biden said. Mr. Trump repeated his claim that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s under audit by the IRS. Being under audit does not prevent individuals from releasing their tax

Biden and Trump go head-to-head over mitigation measures

8:36 p.m. — Biden and Trump sparred over the proper protocols that businesses and schools need to put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus, with Mr. Trump arguing that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that’s what’s happening.”

“We have to open up,” the president said. “And we understand the disease.”

Mr. Trump said measures such as installing plexiglass is costly to private businesses and is “not the answer.”

But Biden said the nation “ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

To continue combatting the coronavirus, Biden said the nation needs rapid testing and contact tracing, and to ensure businesses allow for social distancing and install dividers.

Biden also knocked the president for criticizing the response to the coronavirus based on whether states are controlled by Democrats or Republicans.

“I don’t view this as he does, as red states or blue states,” he said. “We’re the United States.”

Mr. Trump also addressed criticisms this week of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and said he is listening to Fauci and other public health experts in his administration.

“I think he’s a Democrat, but that’s OK,” the president said.

Fauci’s party affiliation is unknown, and he has said he has never endorsed a political candidate in his five decades in public service.

Debate kicks off with exchanges over COVID-19

8:26 p.m. — Moderator Kristen Welker asked Mr. Trump about his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 222,000 Americans. Mr. Trump did not directly outline how he planned to address the next wave of the crisis.

“We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease that came from China. It’s a worldwide pandemic,” Mr. Trump said, arguing that the mortality rate has decreased. The federal government did not shut down the country’s economy, but states individually decided whether to impose restrictions.

“We are fighting it, and we’re fighting it hard,” Mr. Trump said. He added that a vaccine would likely be ready before the end of the year.

“We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready, it’s going to be announced within weeks, and it’s going to be delivered,” Mr. Trump said. He later added that it’s “not a guarantee” that a vaccine would be ready in a few weeks, “but it will be by the end of the year.”

“I think my timeline is going to be more accurate,” Mr. Trump said, pushing back against the government’s own health experts, who have said that a vaccine likely won’t be available to the majority of Americans until later in the year.

Mr. Trump also spoke about his own experience catching the virus, saying he “learned a lot.”  The president also said that the therapies he had received while in the hospital acted as a “cure” and claimed he was now “immune” to the virus.

“We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” Mr. Trump claimed.

Biden slammed Mr. Trump’s response to the virus, saying that the president does not have a plan to address the crisis.

“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Biden said. He held up his mask, and said that widespread mask-wearing could save 100,000 lives.

Trump and Biden face off in final presidential debate

7:50 p.m. — President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will face off in a final debate, where they will make their case to voters before Election Day. Nikole Killion reports.

Biden campaign responds to Bobulinski allegations

7:43 p.m. — The Biden campaign responded to allegations from Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, that Joe Biden was aware of and involved with his son’s business dealings in China. The Trump campaign has invited Bobulinski as a guest to the debate.

In a statement, Biden campaign rapid response director Andrew Bates said that Biden has released his tax returns, and there is no indication he received any money from these business deals.

“Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him,” Bates said. “What is true is that Tony Bobulinski admitted on the record to Breitbart that he is angry he was *not* able to go into business with Hunter and James Biden.”

Bates also cited reports that Mr. Trump has a Chinese bank account, and noted that the president has not released his tax returns.

“What is also true is that in contrast to Vice President Biden, Donald Trump has a secret Chinese bank account and pays more in taxes in China than he pays in federal income taxes in the United States — and that this is a desperate, pathetic farce executed by a flailing campaign with no rationale for putting our country through another four years of hell,” Bates said.

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