Dialed down, Biden, Trump clash over Covid-19 response, fracking in final debate
The mics were off, but the gloves mostly stayed on.
The final debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was a departure from the rancorous first clash in Cleveland. Instead, the two candidates sparred over federal Covid-19 policy, health care, energy, immigration policy and race.
With polls showing Biden holding a sizable national lead — with Election Day just two weeks away and over 42 million ballots having already been cast — Trump delivered no obvious knockout blows, and Biden appeared to clear his final major hurdle with no major stumble.
Moderator Kristen Welker — aided by a new rule that muted candidates' microphones while their opponent delivered their initial responses to questions — directed the men through a fast-paced debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
Trump, who has struggled to settle on a single message against his rival, set aside the "Trojan horse for the radical left" theme from the first debate to hammer Biden as an ineffective Washington insider who is "all talk" with nothing to show for his 47 years in public life. He called Biden a "corrupt politician" and dismissed his answers as pandering.
Biden criticized Trump as a heartless and inept racist who botched the Covid-19 pandemic and locked immigrant children in cages. He painted Trump as incompetent and dishonest.
Referring to the pandemic, Biden said in the opening minutes of the debate: "220,000 deaths. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States."Post too long. Click here to view the full text.