After nearly one month of waiting, Americans finally got a re-match between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opposition, Joe Biden. The two met on stage Thursday evening in the second and final debate of the 2020 election season.
Key Takeaway from Final Debate: The key takeaway from Thursday’s debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee was the improved tone and tenor of the interaction. While there were certainly a fair amount of combative moments, the event resembled more of a debate and less of a brawl. Both candidates came under criticism after their first meeting turned into a series of interruptions and ugly words.Read More »
Moderator Keeps Debate Under Control: The 90-minute debate was moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker. She was largely praised for her ability to keep the dialogue on track while preventing tensions from escalating to the point of no return. After spending the days leading up to the debate criticizing Welker for being an unfair liberal, Trump stopped in the middle of the event to compliment the moderator for how she was handling her duties.
COVID-19 and Healthcare Dominate the Discussion: As expected, the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic dominated the discussion of the evening. Welker started the debate with a question to each candidate asking them how they would handle the health crisis. Trump leaned on his own positive diagnosis to assert that he knows a lot about the virus and how to beat it.
Meanwhile, Biden slammed the Trump administration’s response to the virus, repeatedly pointing to the president’s refusal to issue a nationwide mask mandate and downplaying the severity of the virus. Biden used a common political scare tactic, predicting that the nation was in for a dark winter. Over 223,000 Americans have lost their lives to the deadly virus.
In addition to the COVID-19 specific question, Welker also put healthcare at the front of the discussion. The issue of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been thrust into the spotlight once again because the US Supreme Court to set to hear arguments on November 10. As expected, Biden went on the defense of the ACA. Conversely, Trump railed against it, promising to replace it with his own version. Biden called him out for promising to replace it, yet never having a plan to do so.
The former vice president also used this opening to speak about his own proposal to allow citizens to buy into a public health insurance program. While doing so, he introduced the phrase “Bidencare” into the nation’s lexicon.
Racism Continues to Pervade National Conversation: One of the most heated exchanges of the evening came when Welker asked each candidate to explain if they understood why Black parents had to have difficult conversations with their children about law enforcement. Trump asserted that he was the least racist person in the room, continuing his insistence that he has done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Biden responded by criticizing Trump for continuing to inflame the racial divisions present in the country.
Republicans Pounce on Biden’s Remarks About Oil Industry: Republicans have spent the hours after the debate pouncing on Biden’s remarks about the oil and gas industry. The remarks came during a discussion about clean energy and climate change. Biden said that he would transition away from the oil industry. It did not take long for Trump to call him out for that. While it may not end up being a game-changer, the remark may end up being problematic for the Democrats hoping to sway voters in Texas and other states with a strong presence of the oil and gas industry.
Closing Arguments: Welker gave each candidate the opportunity to close with remarks on how they would reach out to the voters who did not cast their ballots for them should they emerge victorious. Trump focused his remarks on the economy, pointing out that his policies led to record low unemployment rates across all demographics prior to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Biden said that he will be a president that represents all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation. Biden spoke directly into the camera, reminding Americans that character is on the ballot for this election.
It is unlikely that this debate will move the needle for either candidate in any direction. Heading into Thursday’s debate, Biden was enjoying a double-digit lead in most national polls. In addition, over 50 million early votes have already been cast. Trump exhibiting good behavior may have helped to make Republican voters feel better about casting their vote for him, but it was unlikely that he won over the very few undecided voters still out there.
All of these questions will finally be answered on November 3 when Americans head to the poll in this heated election.
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