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Key Takeaways from the Final Trump/Biden Debate

What Happened:

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden met for their final debate before the Presidential Election on November 3rd. The debate, moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Walker, was much more respectful and controlled than the previous debate. The muting of opponents during the 2 minutes allowed both candidates to speak uninterrupted for their segments and resulted in a much smoother debate.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the debate, separated by topic:

On Covid-19:

  • Trump said his administration had acted quickly and decisively in the face of Covid and claimed that the number of deaths under Biden would have been much higher. Trump also promised that a vaccine would be available very shortly. When pressed on a timeline by the moderator, Welker, he said likely before the end of the year and that the military would help distribute the vaccine quickly.

  • Trump also claimed that if Biden were elected, he would shut down the economy once again.

  • Biden claimed that the Trump administration has no effective plan to combat Covid-19 and that Trump had created a campaign of misinformation about safety procedures. He also criticized Trump for hiding information about the dangers of Covid-19 from the American public, despite knowing the truth.

  • Biden promised he would put a more effective plan into place to allow businesses and schools to reopen safely.

  • Said Biden, “Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America,” referring to the 225,000 Americans that have lost their lives to the disease.

On Trump's Taxes:

  • In response to the NY Times article that claimed that Trump had paid very little or no taxes for several of the last 15 years, Trump said his accountants told him he had "prepaid tens of millions of dollars" in taxes. Once again, he did not specify Federal Income taxes as the NY Times did in their article. Trump also said he would release his tax returns as soon as his audit was over.

  • Biden noted that he had released all of his tax returns for the last 22 years and asked the President to do the same. When President Trump said he would release his taxes as soon as the audit was complete, Biden said he had been making that promise for the last four years.

On Healthcare and the Upcoming Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act:

  • When asked what he would do if 20 million Americans were to lose their healthcare, should the Supreme Court overturn the Affordable Care Act, Trump said that the ACA (Obamacare) was a failed system and that he had already eliminated the individual mandate but that the whole system needed to be redone. He said they would put together a new healthcare plan that would be much better and still protect pre-existing conditions but gave no specific timeline on when that would be available.

  • Trump also claimed that under Biden's healthcare plan, people would no longer have the option of privatized healthcare and that Biden's plan was a "socialist" healthcare plan.

  • Biden responded that his new healthcare plan, Biden-care, would expand on Obamacare efforts, lower premiums and offer healthcare to all Americans, even those who could not afford it.

  • Biden also said that Trump's claim that privatized healthcare would be eliminated was false and that he supported privatized healthcare and citizens would be able to choose between public or private healthcare under his administration.

On Climate Change:

  • Trump said that CO2 emissions under his administration were some of the lowest in history and that he supported protecting the environment but that there had to be a balance with protecting businesses as well.

  • Trump also claimed that Biden originally was against fracking but that he had changed his position recently because of the election.

  • Biden said that climate change is one of the biggest existential threats to humanity and that he supports investment into renewable energy sources. He also said that significant investment in these areas would lead to millions of jobs with good wages for Americans.

  • Biden also said he supported fracking but that he would put safety measures in place to protect the environment and avoid gas emissions.

  • Finally, Biden said he would transition away from oil to a more renewable energy source over time saying we must trust in the scientists.

On Hunter Biden and Burisma:

  • Trump made several unsubstantiated claims that Biden and his family had received illegal payments from China and Ukraine. This was a theme of Trump's during much of the early part of the debate.

  • Biden flatly denied any wrongdoing and declared the discussion about his family was “malarkey” and was simply Trump trying to deflect and not talk about the substantive issues.

  • He also noted that Trump was the one who got impeached for his dealings with Ukraine and mentioned Trump's "secret" Chinese bank account.

  • Biden said directly to the camera, “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family is hurting badly.”

  • Trump called the response a typical politician's response and said he has bank accounts all over the world and that he "believed" his Chinese account had been closed in 2017.

On Race Relations:

  • Trump criticized Biden's crime bill saying that the bill put "tens of thousands of black men in jail."

  • Trump also talked about his administration's successes in criminal justice reform, his investment in black education and in the creation of opportunity zones, which he says led to lower unemployment rates for minorities.

  • Trump also repeated his line of being "the least racist person in the room," and claimed to have done more for Black Americans than anyone other than Abraham Lincoln.

  • Biden called Trump "one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history" and denounced the last debate when Trump wouldn't condemn white supremacy and told the extremist group, the Proud Boys, to "stand down and stand by."

  • Biden acknowledged that the 1994 Crime Bill disproportionately harmed African Americans and said that, at the time, although the bill was supported unanimously by both sides, he’s been trying to change drug sentencing laws and that he would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for pure drug violations and that he would provide rehabilitation instead.

  • Trump asked, if he wanted to do that, why hadn't he done so during the 8 years he served as Vice President under Barack Obama. This would be a recurring theme that Trump would go back to several times. Biden responded that they had made some progress under Obama but that more needed to be done.

On a New Coronavirus Stimulus Bill:

  • Trump blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for not wanting to pass a new Coronavirus Stimulus Bill and claimed that his administration wanted to move forward but that Nancy was holding back for political reasons.

  • Biden said a second bill had proposed and passed by House Democrats all the way back in July and that it was the Senate Republicans that were dragging their feet saying they wouldn't vote on the House-passed bill.

  • Negotiations for a new Covid-19 Stimulus Bill have been ongoing for several months with Democrats wanting to pass a higher bill of around $2.2 Trillion and Republicans mostly unsupportive of passing a bill with that high a price tag and looking to pass a much smaller bill of around $1.2 Trillion. Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi have met several times to negotiate the bill but still have not reached an agreement.

On Immigration and the Separation of Children from their Parents at the Borders:

  • According to the ACLU, 545 immigrant children that were separated from their families at the border under Trump's administration, continue to be separated from their parents and have no immediate prospect of being reunited. The moderator acknowledged that the Trump administration had later changed the policy of separating families but asked Trump to address this issue.

  • Trump defended his administration's policies saying "coyotes and bad people" were bringing children across the border to try and get in illegally and that his administration had built a stronger border as well as 400 miles of new border wall.

  • Trump also blamed the Obama administration for the cages used to incarcerate the children saying "they built [the] cages."

  • Biden criticized Trump's answer saying kids "were ripped from" their families under his administration and that these children were traveling with their families and not "coyotes."

On Minimum Wage:

  • Trump argued that minimum wage decisions should be left to the states to determine as different states have different socio-economic levels. He also argued that raising minimum wage to a standardized federal level of $15 per hour would harm small businesses and result in layoffs.

  • Said Trump, "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."

  • Biden said he would support a minimum wage increase of $15 per hour and disagreed with the idea that an increase would hurt small businesses.

  • Said Biden, "There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business."

On North Korea:

  • Trump said that the Obama administration had left him a "mess" to deal with in terms of relations with North Korea and that he had avoided a war and saved many American lives by establishing a good relationship with North Korean Dictator, Kim Jong Un.

  • He also said he was not worried about the new missiles North Korea rolled our recently and that "Having a good relationship with other countries is a good thing.”

  • Biden said that Trump had “legitimized” a “thug” by forming a relationship with Kim and that he had alienated US allies in the process.

  • Biden noted that the United States “had a good relationship with Hitler” prior to the invasions that led the country into World War II.

On Foreign Interference in the US Election and National Security:

  • With the recent intelligence briefing saying that both Iran and Russia had obtained US voter data and were using the information to try and influence the US election, both candidates were asked how they would handle this.

  • Biden said that any country that interferes in American elections would pay a price if he were elected as “They are interfering with American sovereignty.”

  • Trump said that nobody has been tougher on Russia than him and that his administration had pushed for increased military spending by NATO.

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