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A Debate With a Clear Winner
On Thursday night, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, for the final, high-stakes debate before Election Day.
After the chaos-filled debate on September 29, the second contest was cancelled in the wake of Trump’s bout with coronavirus, though both candidates held televised town hall events instead. With only two face-to-face meetings, each took on heavy significance. Debates don’t typically change the tide of an election, but they often provide memorable soundbites and – in this most unusual year – may have more impact than usual.
Kristen Welker of NBC served as moderator for the final debate, to the chagrin of many Republicans: Welker’s parents are Democrat donors who poured almost $20,000 into Barack Obama’s campaign, and Welker herself has a reputation as partisan. After an argumentative Chris Wallace in the first debate and the unhinged interrogation from the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie in last week’s town hall, Trump was surely prepared to play defense against the moderator as much as his opponent.
The topics of debate were changed just a few days ahead of the event and the debate commission announced they would mute microphones for two minute periods to allow candidates to speak uninterrupted. Would this give Biden time to hang himself or would it eliminate any actual debating?
Biden Earns 32 Pinocchios
Biden emerged from his basement for the first time in several days to take the stage to face Trump, fresh off of multiple rallies every day – and just a couple of weeks after recovering from the coronavirus. Among those in attendance were former Hunter Biden business associate Tony Bobulinksi, a guest of the President.
The selected topics were broad: coronavirus response, election integrity, national security, American families, immigration, race in America, and climate change, with a final question about what each candidate would say in his inaugural address, should he win.
The debate started with both candidates projecting calm and restraint, taking a noticeably different tone than the previous debate. Trump effectively landed several good points out of the gate, while Biden rambled, sometimes incoherently. In fact, according to Scott McKay, from China to the coronavirus and Trump’s taxes to healthcare, Biden told “32 lies in 96 minutes last night.”
When Biden opened the door, Trump nailed him on his ties to China and the money he has received from Russia via his son Hunter’s business dealings. Biden denied receiving money but never denied the validity of his son’s emails or claimed the now-famous laptop was not Hunter’s.
Trump was stellar in pointing out Biden’s inconsistencies – he contradicted himself several times just during the debate – and the absence of true accomplishments in his 47 year career in Washington. Biden did not have a single defining moment, but his passable performance was enough for the mainstream media to declare him as the winner.
Welker was markedly better at her job than previous moderators, though she consistently interrupted Trump and didn’t ask Biden tough follow up questions. She did, however, maintain better control and command more respect than veteran newsman Wallace.
All in all, the final debate was significantly calmer and easier to watch than the first. Trump maintained his calm demeanor throughout the evening, which allowed him to effectively showcase the accomplishments of his first term and make a strong case for a second. He stayed focused and his trademark energy shined. The final round was a clear win for President Trump.