Biden - Trump last debate how it happened: updates, fact check and reactions

Biden - Trump last debate how it happened: updates, fact check and reactions

Biden - Trump final debate: reaction

Biden - Trump watch the final presidential debate

Biden support amid Trump's broken promises

A major alliance of construction unions on Friday will endorse Joe Biden on Friday, giving the Democrat a boost from a crucial bloc of blue-collar voters in the final days of his campaign against President Donald Trump.

North America's Building Trades Unions, a coalition of 14 unions representing nearly 3 million workers in the United States, had been on the sidelines as it weighed Trump's policies and the implications of Biden's proposed infrastructure and climate plans. The coalition has not yet publicly announced the endorsement. Trump had also courted the union's support, according to a person familiar with the matter, but the group was disappointed by the lack of further coronavirus relief that would also advance union policy goals.

'Joe Biden will deliver for America's working class because he's done it before,' Sean McGarvey, the union group's president, said in an emailed statement. 'His plan to build a vibrant, sustainable infrastructure and a secure energy future supports union building trades workers and their families.' He described the Trump administration as delivering 'four years of broken promises' and a 'war on the middle class.'

A little more moderation, a little less fraction

Moderator Kristen Welker — with the help of an offstage mute button — helped give Americans the substantive, crackling debate over leadership that had been missing so far during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The NBC News White House correspondent worked hard Thursday to keep control of the second and final encounter between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, steering but not stifling exchanges.

Midway through the debate, she even received a compliment from the Republican president, who said, “So far, I respect very much the way you handled this.”

Trump shares live call with Israeli PM

In what didn't seem like the type of behaviour expected from a president, Trump did not get the answer he was pushing for.

Biden win would bring relief but few fixes, says Merkel ally

A sigh of relief would go around the world if Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins the US presidency but Berlin would still face many of the same policy problems with Washington, Germany's coordinator for transatlantic ties said on Friday.

Peter Beyer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, said Biden would offer a more collaborative tone than US President Donald Trump who has called Germany's trade and spending policies 'very bad'. Trump trails Biden in polls ahead of the 3 November vote. 'A big sigh of relief would go around the planet if Joe Biden wins,' Beyer told Reuters.

'Would it help? I don't think so because (from) what we've heard from Joe Biden ... we will see that many of the existing transatlantic topics will remain, such as Nord Stream 2, energy security, economic issues,' he added.

Is lying being normalised?

The fact that fact-checkers appear to, in fact, be the busiest people during these live debates suggests that being factual, even as the President of the United States isn't that important. Fact!

Biden watch-gate

Just as a fly landing on the perfectly coiffed head of Mike Pence in the VP debate got lots of attention, the Democratic candidate checking his timepiece did too.

Shortly after he actually took the watch off and laid it down.

Trump heads to Florida as campaign enters homestretch

President Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden begin a sprint through the final 11 days of the US presidential race on Friday after battling over the covid-19 pandemic and personal integrity in their second and final debate.

Trump, 74, will hold two rallies in the battleground state of Florida, where opinion polls show a tight race. Biden, 77, will deliver a speech in his home state of Delaware on his plans for leading a recovery from the pandemic. More than 49 million Americans already have cast ballots in person or through the mail, according to the University of Florida's Elections Project.

That is more than one-third the total number of votes cast in 2016 - giving Trump, who is trailing in national opinion polls, fewer opportunities to change minds before voting ends on 3 November. Trump has frequently criticized absentee voting as unreliable, and his campaign has fought state efforts to expand the practice, which analysts say is as secure as any other method. He votes this way.

"Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain President of the United States of America."

Joe Biden, Presidential candidate on Trump

Going viral

The candidates knew that anything they said during the debate would be jumped on.

Trump's continued claim that the coronavirus is disappearing must surely now be treated with the contempt it deserves by everyone. Surely!

YOU have the mute button!

Steven Colbert has pointed to the power that lies in the hands of viewers after the debate.

Biden wins trio of snap debate polls

According to three separate snap polls, Democratic candidate Joe Biden came out on top in Thursday’s final presidential debate

54% of respondents to a YouGov survey said Biden got the better of President Donald Trump, while the 77-year-old former vice-president accrued 53% and 52% in polls by CNN and Data Progress, respectively.

Analysis: Who won the final Trump vs Biden debate?

Thursday night was the last chance for both candidates to prove that they’re up for the top job before the country decides on 3 November.

Who came out on top? Emily France assesses Donald Trump and Joe Biden's performances:

Trump

"He has no agenda. He has no plan"

Donald Trump’s performance in Thursday’s final debate laid bare the glaring lack of substance in his plans for a second term as US president, says the American attorney and author Jill Filipovic.

"If one single thing shone through in Thursday’s debate, it was that Donald Trump has absolutely nothing to say,” Filipovc told the Guardian. "He has no agenda. He has no plan. He has no ideals or hopes or purpose. All he has is the raw pursuit of power – for his own benefit, no one else’s.

"Trump failed to put forward even one specific policy he will push in his second term. He offered some vague hand-waving – he (or the US supreme court) will get rid of Obamacare and he’ll replace it with something better, no you haven’t seen his plan, even though he’s had four years to create it, but he’s working on it, it’s almost done, he swears – but gave Americans no vision for a second-term Trump presidency

"Instead, he was purely reactive. Joe Biden would put forward an idea, and Trump’s response was: 'Well why didn’t you do that when you were in office?'"

(Photo: Kevin Dietsch - Pool via CNP / GTRES)

Presidential debate fact check: coronavirus, North Korea...

We take a closer look at the claims made by President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden in Thursday's final pre-election debate:

“Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took to Twitter last night to reiterate the message he gave American voters in his final debate with President Donald Trump.

Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance,” Biden said. “I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven't been getting it the last four years.”

Trump tweets out conservative polls that give him resounding win

Donald Trump has tweeted screenshots of several Twitter polls conducted by conservative outlets and commentators, all of which hand him a landslide victory over Joe Biden in Thursday’s debate.

And in all but one of the surveys posted by the president, the presence of a tick next to his name indicates that he has also made sure to vote for himself.

Biden wins final debate - CNN snap poll

A CNN survey of watchers taken immediately after Thursday’s final presidential debate found that Democratic candidate Joe Biden came out on top.

According to the results of the CNN Instant Poll, 53% of voters said they felt Biden had won the debate, while 39% gave victory to President Donald Trump.

This is actually a noticeably better result for Trump than after the first debate, which saw just 28% of those polled by CNN hand the win to the president.

US Presidential debate:  Global media analysis

Mute buttons, Abraham Lincoln and a time check.

Ireland's state broadcaster RTE looks back at the debate with Washington correspondent Brian O' Donavan concluding that the only thing agreed by both men was to remove the glass screen ahead of the debate.

Report here

Debate

A newly restrained Trump faces the same old problems: Reuters summary analysis

President Donald Trump turned in the restrained and consistent performance his advisers said he needed in his final debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, but it was unlikely to alter the U.S. presidential race in any fundamental way.

With just 11 days to go before the Nov. 3 election, Trump still faces the same fundamental problem: A country battered by the coronavirus, with cases spiking anew, and an economy that has yet to fully rebound from the pandemic.

Once again, the Republican president had no real counter to Biden’s criticism of his handling of the virus that has killed more than 221,000 Americans other than to say that the nation is “turning the corner.”

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls nationally as the race enters its final stretch, although his edge is tighter in key battleground states.

Thursday's debate in Nashville, Tennessee, was the last time for both candidates to share a stage before a large television audience, and Trump engaged in a more civil discourse with far fewer interruptions than at their first debate in September.

No meaningful movement on campaign numbers from debate

On climate change

NPR dig into that claim from Trump

 

Trump reaction at the end of the debate

CNN's Jake Tapper's hot take

"It was definitely a more normal debate," said CNN's Jake Tapper, at the end of the debate. "President Trump behaved more like a regular person might theoretically. It's fair to say that Trump supporters and Republican office holders can relax for the night. They can exhale. He didn't set himself on fire tonight like he did at the first debate. [But] I mean, he did lie like Pinocchio."

The fact that Trump was calmer tonight doesn't change the fact that a lot of what he says is just not true.

Eric Feigl-Ding is an epidemiologist & health economist.

Forbes pulling apart Trump's 'Biden got $3.5 million from Russia' claim. Firstly it's Biden's son Hunter who allegedly got the money and the deal in question is "referenced in a politically charged report  released Senate Republicans into Hunter Biden's business dealings in Russia and Ukraine." Hunter Biden's lawyer says the claim is false.

Trying to smear Joe Biden through his son was definitely number one priority for Trump tonight. 

Trump has posted the tape, but indeed, Biden doesn't say he'll ban fracking, though he's clearly not pro-oil from the clips.

As Emily pointed out below: "Biden supports a partial ban on fracking, and only on federal lands. He has stated that he would put the weight of the federal government behind a push away from fossil fuels."

Biden's twitter reacts to the racism section of the debate

Moderator Welker was good tonight. Definitely a far easier ride than Wallace had on the first debate, but for the most Welker stepped in when she had to. People will often criticise moderators for not forcing candidates to answer the question - Trump regularly dodged questions tonight - but there's actually very little you can do if someone is refusing to talk to the question. Bringing the whole thing to a screeching halt doesn't actually achieve any illumination, and viewers are savvy enough to spot the candidate has refused to answer. 

AOC reacts to "AOC + 3" comment from Trump on the Green New Deal

That's it! The final debate is over.

Either the muting of the microphones worked or both candidates, mostly Trump, realised the first debate was a disaster. That was a calmer affair - an actual debate - and the candidates got into policy.

That said Trump looked to personally attack Biden more often rather than talk through policy. Trump really wanted to focus on Hunter Biden, but does that resonate with voters? (And Biden neatly flipped the question at one point onto Trump's taxes). 

Who won it? Both campaigns will be pretty happy with the debate, but Biden's the winner because nothing tonight happened that will have moved the votes much in either direction and the former vice-president is ahead in the polls.

Both candidates were exactly who we knew they are, and that's only going to favour Biden given the state of the polls. 

Biden says he'll represent all Americans. "Hope over fear. Science over fiction. Move forward because we have enormous opportunity." Biden says the "character of the country is on the ballot here. Decency, honesty. You haven't had that for the past four years."

Trump defending his pre-covid record, says everyone was doing great before coronavirus. Then pivots to attacking Biden.

Trump on leadership. What will you say to Americans who didn't vote for you? "We have to make the country totally successful, like it was before the plague came in from China."

Biden says he would transition from oil. "That's a big statement," says Trump. Trump thinks he's got a big win here. "Remember that Texas, remember that Pennsylvania," says Trump. 

FACT CHECK: Trump claims Biden wants to ban fracking

A parrot of something Pence tried to stick on Kamala Harris in the Vice Presidential debate. 

It’s true that Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris called for a ban on fracking as a presidential candidate, but the Biden climate plan does not take the same stance. 

Biden supports a partial ban on fracking, and only on federal lands. He has stated that he would put the weight of the federal government behind a push away from fossil fuels.

On the fracking point:

FACT CHECK: Trump says "windmills" kill "all the birds"

Funnily enough, a false claim commonly made by Russian president Vladimir Putin. 

In reality, wind turbines kill far fewer birds in the U.S. than cats, buildings or cars, according to a 2015 study published in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematic that experts from the National Audubon Society agree is the most up to date research on direct bird mortalities in the U.S.

Trump claims Biden said he'd ban fracking. Biden says he didn't. "Put the tape on your website," says Biden. Trump says he will. 

Biden laughing as Trump repeats the $100 trillion claim, "not the six he says". 

Biden: "Give me a break!" Says he has no idea where Trump comes up with his numbers. Solar energy and wind are the "fastest growing sectors", says Biden. 

Trump says the USA is finally energy dependent. He criticises wind (all the turbines are made in Germany and China) and says solar is not quite there yet. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says he loves the environment

Actions speak louder than words. Trump's record on environment so far; under Trump’s administration, the US has rolled back several environmental regulations and withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, which is a global agreement aimed at avoiding dangerous levels of global warming.

Trump says Biden's plan is an economic disaster. Cost of $6,500 from each family. Trump says the plan is from AOC +3. Says the plan costs $100 trillion. 

Biden says we don't have much time. We'll pass the point of no return in the next eight to 10 years. Biden says we have a great opportunity. "My climate plan will produce millions of good paying jobs". Says America can own the electric car market in the future. 

"Health and jobs are at stake", says Biden. He's talking up Wall St. backing his plan. 

FACT CHECK: Trump waxing lyrical on US carbon emissions, says we have the cleanest air

This is not true. The American Lung Association found that the air pollution increase in 2019’s report was worse than the past two reports, which examined air quality dating back to 2013.

Trump on climate change. Says he loves the environment, but "look at how filthy China is!" Says he won't hurt the American economy for the Climate Change agreements, which is why he took the country out of the Paris Accords. 

Biden defends his legislative record. Says it was a mistake when all 100 senators  voted on the drug laws. He says people should not be going to jail for drug and alcohol problems, says they need to go into rehab. 

Trump asks why Biden didn't get it done in his time as VP. Says it's because Biden's a politician. Trump doubling down on the idea he's not a politician, while Biden is. 

Trump asking again, why didn't Biden get it done. "The Senate was Republican" is the answer. And we had about 4 seconds of actual silence! Trump eventually says "sometimes you have to convince people."

FACT CHECK: Biden signed bill that put black men in jail

As a senator, Biden voted for a 1994 crime bill that critics see contributing to the mass incarceration of Black Americans.

Biden has been clear on his policies on law and order in 2020. He wants to eliminate the death penalty, solitary confinement and jailing accused criminals until they pay a cash bail. Has pledged $20 billion in grants for states to reduce social ills like illiteracy and child abuse in exchange for scaling back mandatory-minimum sentences.

Biden says Trump pours fuel on every racist situation. Biden brings up the Proud Boys and what Trump said at the last debate. He's a "dog whistle as big as a fog horn". 

FACT CHECK: Trump says nobody has done better for African Americans than him

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, there had been a consistent downward trend in African-American unemployment under President Trump.

But it's a trend which began under President Barack Obama, who saw the rate decline from 12.6% to 7.5% during his two terms in office from 2009 until 2017.

However, there remains a disparity in wages between different groups in the US. The average income of African-American households is almost 60% less than white households, with growth stalling under President Trump, according to the latest statistics. Source: BBC

Biden says he never said what Trump "accuses me of saying" - the "super-predator" claim. 

Biden attacking Trump on the Central Park 5 where he pushed for the death penalty and says Trump had talked about roving gangs. 

Trump attacking Biden on why he "didn't do anything four years". Biden responds by pivoting to character. So Trump goes back to his claims about Russia. 

Welker tries to get us back to racism, but Trump's managed to force the debate onto what he wanted. We're talking about the laptop...

Welker finally brings it back though. Trump asked about white supremacy. Trump says he has great relationships with all people and says he's the least racist person in the room. 

FACT CHECK: Trump brags about signing criminal justice reform that benefits black community

In 2018 Trump signed into law the First Step Act, a bipartisan measure reducing mandatory-minimum sentences, expanding drug treatment programs for prisoners and allowing some prisoners to finish their sentences early with good behaviour.

Has also supported some “tough-on-crime” policies that disproportionately affect minorities, including seeking to restart executions of federal death row inmates. For example, Trump signed an executive order to take steps toward police reform. It encourages police to use the latest standards for use of force, banning chokeholds unless an officer’s life was in danger, and called for legislation to do more.

Democrats faulted the order for allowing some exceptions to the chokehold ban and placing no restrictions on warrants that let police enter a suspect’s property without knocking.

Race in America. Welker asks about "the talk" that Black parents have to give their children, to be fearful of the police. 

Biden completely agrees and says there is institutional racism in America. Says things have very gently been getting better, but Trump is the first president to come in and say "that's it, no more".

Trump says he understands why Black families live in fear. Then attacks Biden for his "super-predator" law in 94. 

Trump again makes his claim that nobody has done more for the Black community than him other than Abraham Lincoln. Says he reformed criminal justice, reformed prisons. 

Debate over catch and release. Biden says people do come back, Trump says 1%. Trump says it doesn't matter anyway, because he cancelled it. 

FACT CHECK: on Trump separating children from parents at the Mexico border

According to AP the Trump administration mandated anyone caught crossing the border illegally was to be criminally prosecuted. The policy meant adults were taken to court for criminal proceedings, and their children were separated and sent into the care of the Health and Human Services Department, which is tasked with caring for unaccompanied migrant children. The zero tolerance policy remains in effect, but Trump signed an executive order June 20 2018 that stopped separations. The parents of 545 children have still not been found to date.

Biden talks about paths to citizenship for the Dreamers. Trump says Biden had eight years and did nothing. And goes back to the cages. 

Immigration. Welker asks about children who were separated from parents and the fact 500 children cannot be reunited with their families. Trump refuses to answer, but eventually says they have a plan, that they're "working very hard on." He doesn't give any details. 

Biden says the policy makes the country a "laughing stock". Trump tries to claim that the policy was the Obama administration's. 

Trump keeps asking "who built the cages" to hold immigrant children, he says it was Obama and Biden. He doesn't get an answer. 

Minimum wage. Biden says he supports a $15 minimum wage. Says he thinks small businesses need support too. 

Trump says it should be a state decision, because each location is different. Trump says he would consider raising the minimum wage, but insists on it being a state decision. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says Pelosi has been stalling on the stimulus bill

It's true that Pelosi refuses to accept a fraction of the $2.2bn deal on economic covid-19 relief she has been demanding since spring.

But Trump and the GOP have been the ones stalling the deal, openly admitting that they instead prioritised time in congress to instead rush through the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the election.

Trump blames Nancy Pelosi for the lack of a new coronavirus stimulus plan. Says she's blocking it for political reasons. 

Biden says McConnell is the one who knows he can't get the Republican votes in the Senate. 

Biden says the HEROES Act has been sitting there from the summer. He's quite fired up on this one. 

Trump says the bill was a bailout for badly run Democrat cities and a way of funnelling money to immigrants. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says the stock market will crash if Biden is elected

Nobody knows what will happen in the stock market, not even Trump. According to some commentators the stock market will soar regardless of who wins the US election.

Biden says Trump is confused about who he's running against: "He's running against Joe Biden". Says he beat the other Dems who had different medical plans. 

Welker asks whether people should be worried that Biden is looking to go to one single healthcare provider - the government? 

Biden says no, but he thinks there should be a public option. Appeals directly to people worrying about medical bills.

Trump pushes back and says Biden will socialise medicine. 

Biden says "people deserve to have affordable healthcare", says it'll cost $750 billion to do it over 10 years. Interesting he's happy to own the cost. 

FACT CHECK: Trump claims pre-existing conditions won't be affected by Obamacare repeal

This is not true. Anyone with pre-existing conditions could potentially lose their coverage. Repeal of Obamacare would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or charge higher premiums, making it difficult for many to afford coverage. A pre-existing condition will likely include covid-19 from now on.

Biden says he'll pass Obamacare with a public option. Bidencare. 

Says people will be automatically enrolled if they can't afford healthcare. 

Biden pushes back on the argument that he wants to get rid of private healthcare - he says he likes private healthcare. 

Biden says there's no way for Trump to protect pre-existing conditions, and that "we're still waiting on his plan". 

All the facts on what happens if Obamacare is repealed next month 

How could it affect you?

Affordable Care Act up next. 20 million Americans could lose their healthcare. 

Trump says he terminated the individual mandate which was "the worst part of Obamacare". He says he got his "great guys" to run Obamacare as well as possible. 

Trump says it's no longer Obamacare, promises that pre-existing conditions will always be covered. Says he'll come up with a beautiful new healthcare plan. 

So far we haven't seen this plan. 

FACT CHECK: Biden says Trump is weak on North Korea

According to Defence One analysis, North Korea has not tested an atomic device or ICBM since 2017, but neither has it shown any willingness to abandon its nuclear program. Some missile testing has continued, but the media fuss that surrounded US-North Korea summits has yielded little tangible success.

The Kim Jong Un regime is faced with extreme poverty, the leader’s continuing health issues, and a possible succession crisis. Despite these weaknesses, strong sanctions, and diplomatic back-flips, the Trump administration has not reduced the nuclear or conventional threat from North Korea.

Trump claims the problem with North Korea was that Kim Jong-un didn't like Obama and wouldn't meet with him. Biden says that's not true, it was because Obama was being tough with him, 

Trump claiming he stopped war breaking out with North Korea. Biden says he would control them, using international agreements. Says Trump has legitimised North Korea. 

Biden says Trump doesn't want to talk about anything of substance - "this isn't about my family or his family, it's about your family", that's a good line. 

Trump tries again to bring it back to his idea that Biden's family is corrupt, but sounded rather half-hearted, he may have realised that was good from his opponent. 

FACT CHECK: Biden says he will make China play by the rules

Given his past record, this claim checks out. Over his nearly 50-year political career, Biden has indeed generally been supportive of free-trade agreements with China and other countries. 

Biden says he would only re-enter the Trans-Pacific-Partnership after renegotiating it to make sure “environmentalists are there and labor is there.”

Either China’s going to write the rules of the road for the 21st century on trade or we are,” he said.

In the Senate, Biden voted to approve things like Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in 2000. In other votes, he has opposed trade deals without what he saw as sufficient environmental and labor standards.

Biden says he's going to force China to "play by the rules." Again, Biden is actually explaining some policy here, rather than what Trump is mostly doing which is simply attack the man. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says his Chinese bank account is one of 'many'

According to Associated Press, Donald Trump spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company, The New York Times reported. China is one of only three foreign nations (the others are Britain and Ireland) where Trump maintains a bank account, according to a Times analysis of the president’s tax records. The foreign accounts do not show up on Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names.

The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.

Trump asked about his Chinese account. Says it was opened in 2013 and closed in 2015. He had been thinking of doing a deal in China, but decided not to. He says he closed the account before running for president. 

Trump says the Biden family are like "vacuum cleaners", indicating they are hoovering up money around the world thanks to Joe Biden. This is his main attack line so far. 

Trump claims he suffered a "phony witch-hunt" which looked at his finances and found nothing wrong. Now attacks Biden over the work his family has done. Trump really wanted to go for this. 

Biden now responding, saying his family have done nothing wrong. 

Not sure Trump is really making anything stick here, but maybe the talk of smoke will make some people think there's something going on. 

With what's going on the country it's crazy to spend this amount of time on a candidate's SON.

FACT CHECK: Trump says he will release tax return as soon as his audit has finished

It's true that Trump is under audit with the IRS. His $72.9 million tax refund covering multiple years of paid taxes is currently under audit by the IRS. The audit began in 2011 and has not been resolved as of 2020.

It was found last month by the New York Times that Trump paid $750 in federal income tax the year he won the presidency.

 

Trump uses his usual "tax returns under audit" excuse not to release his returns. That's not true. He knows we know that, but he's sticking to it.

He then says he "pre-paid millions on his taxes" - that's not how tax filing works, the final tax number on the return is the tax due, and isn't related to payments on account. 

Trump, rather than doing policy to answer the question simply attacks Biden. Talks about the "horrible emails".

Biden says he's never taken any money from foreign countries, and then goes on the offensive over Trump's Chinese bank account and the fact Trump hasn't released his tax returns. Biden's hitting home here. 

FACT CHECK: Biden says Trump unwilling to take on Putin

This is largely true. Trump's record on Russia is far from tough, he has failed to stand up to Russia, and questions still linger about the help he received from Moscow during his first campaign.

The President’s oldest advisor, his campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, and his first national security advisor were all found guilty or pleaded guilty to offenses having to do with interactions with Russians. Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman even traded sensitive polling data with an associate recently identified as a Russian intelligence agent. Americans are still owed an explanation of what the U.S. government has done to address intelligence reports that Russian operatives had offered bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. 

Russia has kept its strong presence in eastern Ukraine, shows no sign of giving up its annexation of Crimea, and continues its assertive policies in Syria. Moscow’s violation of human rights is only rivalled by Beijing’s. Russia continues its military build-up, as well as its interference in U.S. elections.

Trump says Biden got $3.5 million from Putin. Trump says he never got any money from Russia. 

Trump says "nobody has been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump"

Biden goes there, naming Giuliani as having been used by the Russians. Biden asks why Trump won't take on Putin, and talks about the bounties on American soldiers.

Next topic on national security and in particular the threat of foreign interference in the election. Biden up first.

FACT CHECK: Trump says Fauci said don't wear masks

Yes he did, but a long time ago, and not for long. Trump, on the other hand, took his mask off earlier this month, in public, likely still infectious with covid-19.

Trump has a rant about how much money he could raise if he wanted to. That all got a bit bad-tempered. He says they've got lots of money...

Trump's flailing here, as he attacks Fauci over his change of position on masks. Says he thinks he might be a "Democrat, but that's ok". The American people in general trust Fauci, so attacking him over the coroanvirus is probably not sensible. 

Trump again claims that the US has so many cases because it's testing so much. This is not true. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says US has world record on coronavirus cases and fatalities

The US does appear to have a case fatality rate of 3.1%, but that is still higher than Russia's, which is 1.7%; Saudi Arabia's, which is 1.2%; Israel's, which is 0.8%; Norway's, which is 2.5%; Japan's, which is 1.9%. And deaths are not always reported. The CDC has found many more excess deaths during the pandemic than have been attributed to coronavirus. It's possible other countries are simply better at tallying their deaths. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has among the highest mortality rates when measured per 100,000 people. The US comes in at 54.93 deaths per 100,000. Only 10 countries have higher rates, and they include Brazil, at 56.17 deaths per 100,000; Sweden at 57.12 and the UK, at 62.49. More than 100 countries have lower death rates than the US. They include Mexico, Panama, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Greece, Sudan and Haiti.

Trump: "We have to open the country. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself." Accuses Biden of wanting to shut the country down. 

Biden says "you can walk and chew gum at the same time", arguing for taking effective measures against the virus. Biden then goes with sarcasm: "Teachers, don't worry about it, only a few of you are going to die!"

Trump says "all Democrats talk about is shutdowns". President says the country needs to open up. 

It's hard to believe these two had the chaotic, crazy debate they did first time round. To be honest, there's still not much actual policy coming out, it's mostly fairly personal attacks, but at least we're getting some idea of their visions of how to control the virus. 

Trump really wanted to interrupt there, but held himself back. 

Trump says "we're learning to live with it" and that Biden can afford to live in a basement but other people can't. "I can't as the president." 

Trump says he learnt a lot from having caught it. 99.9% of people recover from it, he says. That's not true. 

Biden responds:  "We're learning to die from it." That was quite a powerful moment. 

No interruptions so far! Looks like both candidates have decided to completely change the demeanour of the debate. 

Trump attacks Biden on the H1N1 swine flu - which is very removed from the coronavirus. He's used this line of attack before, but it's not clear it really resonates with the voters. 

Biden attacking Trump, saying the president had promised the pandemic would be finished by Easter and now he's still promising it will be over soon. 

Trump says he does think the vaccine will be in place before the end of the year, after push back over his "vaccine in a few weeks" claim. 

FACT CHECK: Biden says America has 1,000 deaths from covid-19 a day

This is true. CNN reported this evening that the US just topped 1,100 coronavirus deaths a day. One state is getting National Guard help, and others keep breaking records.

Biden says the New England Medical Journal has said Trump's response has been tragic. Biden says he will have a plan. 

Trump keeping his mouth shut. Occasionally pulling faces when he clearly doesn't agree with something Biden has said. 

Biden: "220,000 Americans dead". He says Trump is responsible and for that he should not remain as President of the US. 

1,000 new deaths per day says Biden. 

FACT CHECK: Trump says the vaccine is ready, it will be ready in weeks.

There are currently 8 vaccines in the final stages of human trials. These trials are done on thousands of volunteers to understand the safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate and usually take at least six months to complete. The vaccine candidate developed by US biotech company Moderna is undergoing Phase III trials, where 30,000 volunteers will be dosed.

The other vaccine candidate “very close to the end” as per the US President is the potential vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. However, none of the vaccine candidates is slated to finish their last stage trials in the month of October, let alone be available for launch. Halted recently by concerns over volunteers’ safety:

Leading U.S. and European vaccine developers have pledged to uphold scientific safety and efficacy standards for their experimental vaccines and not bow to political pressures to rush the process. (Reuters)

Trump says heads of many countries have congratulated him. This is a standard Trump trick, because there's no proof of that. 

Trump talks about his own personal experience, saying he got better very fast due to what they gave him in the hospital. 

He admits there have been spikes but says they are mostly gone. (This is not true). He's on to saying the vaccine will be here soon. 

Trump says 2.2 million could have died, but he closed the economy down to save lives. 

Trump up on the fight against the coronavirus, 16,000 Americans have died since the last debate. 

Here come the candidates, to warm applause. The only time the audience are allowed to participate. 

Just about to start in Nashville...

Bingo cards for the debate

Trumps in the house

Just over five minutes...

Last call to go and get a cup of tea and something to nibble on before the debate starts.

Kid Rock

Kid Rock in the audience

Trump supporting musician is a guest tonight. He turned up without a mask, but was given one by staff and has popped it on. Guests will be ejected if they don't, says the CPD. 

Twitter check

Biden says he's ready, but curiously Trump hasn't tweeted for three hours now, and that wasn't related to the debate, but rather support for the workers of Delphi Corporation.

"Monumental error"

Interesting stuff here. The head-to-head Town Halls didn't play in favour of Trump either, pitching yet another angry, combative performance from the president against what felt like going back to normality with Biden's Town Hall. 

Camera

Straight at the camera

Expect Joe Biden to repeat what he did on a number of occasions in the first debate - look straight into the camera and talk directly to the voter. His team feel it was one of his most effective tactics. I'd agree. 

Poll movements from FiveThirtyEight

Biden up in crucial Pennsylvania...

YOUREFIRED and maga2020!

Will be interesting to see if Biden brings this up. Victor Gevers, a Dutch security expert, is claiming he's guessed Trump's Twitter password - 'maga2020!' And it's allegedly the second time he's done it...

Does that bother Americans?

Curious Fox News keeps inviting Buttigieg on, he's come up with a fair few zingers. 

Anyway, expect these two points to be heckled over tonight, Biden's son's business dealings, and Trump's now not-secret-at-all Chinese bank account. 

Who controls the mute button

Moderator Kristen Welker will not be in charge of the mute button - that duty falls to a Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) official, who will be back stage. They in turn will be monitored by a member of each campaign.

The smart money would be on there being at least some complaints from the Trump camp that the mute button was used unfairly, no matter how it was actually used. 

Unlike at the first debate where officials pleaded with Trump family members to wear their masks once seated, the CPD has said that this time mask-refuseniks will be ejected. 

 


Biden on court appointments

In the first debate Biden wobbled a bit when Trump attacked him over whether the democratic nominee would expand the Supreme Court if he won the election, an idea some Dems have been pushing in a bid to negate the effect the almost certain appointment of conservative Amy Coney Barrett which will tilt the court very firmly to the right. 

Biden now has an answer to questions of whether he'd expand the court: he would set up a bipartisan commission of scholars to explore ways to improve the Supreme Court. He says he'd give them 180 days to come back to him with "recommendations on how to reform the court system, because it's getting out of whack". 

Despite knowing that Biden will have a prepared answer, expect Trump to attack him for planning "court packing". 

The number of justices did vary in roughly the first third of its existence (from five to 10 at the extremes) before settling on the current total of nine in 1869. 

Remdesivir gets FDA approval

Expect Trump to take credit for this. The FDA has approved Gilead's Remdesivir for hospitalised Covid-19 patients. Previously the drug had an emergency use authorisation, allowing doctors to prescribe it where they felt it would help patients. 

The drug has been shown to speed recovery in moderately ill patients, although another study from the WHO, yet to be peer reviewed, found the drug did not increase the chance of survival. 

Remdesivir was given to president Trump when he was infected with covid-19. 

 

A whole different bunch of Trumps

From 1:10' in the video - will it be all out offensive on Hunter Biden, a pitch for a second term on the economy pre-covid? The question - will he be able to be presidential? The answer - almost certainly not.

Lectern distance

The Commission on Presidential Debates has confirmed that the two lecterns are 12' 8" apart, with a gap of 16' 8" from each one to moderator Kristen Welker's desk. 

President Donald Trump will get the first question first, with two minutes uninterrupted time to answer, with Biden muted. 

No plexiglass

Shannon Pettypiece is the Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital. There was plexiglass in place earlier on, just like the Harris - Pence debate. But it's gone after Trump tested negative for covid-19 today. The CPD says both campaigns agreed to the change. 

What's also true is that most experts agree that the plexiglass shields are not actually that effective at preventing the aerosol diffusion of the coronavirus, as the virus particles move around in the air far more freely than simply following a straight line. 

 

One big sign

Down in Tama County, Iowa.

CPD

What is the Commission on Presidential Debates?

The CPD is a private, non-partisan body which acts as the debate sponsor under Federal Law. It's arranged the debates since 1988, and was set up after a fairly erratic debate process which saw no debates in 64, 68 and 72, then hastily arranged debates in 76, 80 and 84 that had left people unsure if there would even be a debate. 

The CPD is run by an independent Board of Directors of the great and good from US society, with no sitting officers of either party involved.

How is the CPD funded? Interestingly it receives no government funding, being entirely funded by the communities that host the debates, and from corporate, foundation and private donors. 

There's a whole lot more in this very detailed article on their website.
 

 

Time's message

Just one word. You have a voice. Use it.

That mute button

One thing to note about the mute button is that it mutes the mics, but not the actual person. That means that Trump will still be able to try and put Biden off his stride by talking loudly during the democratic candidate's two-minute 'uninterrupted' responses to the questions. If Trump does manage to get under Biden's skin it could look worse from a viewers point of view, because it won't be clear what has caused Biden to lose his train of thought. For that reason Biden has been training on answering questions with someone chuntering away in the background. 

Sanitizing

Anti-covid-19 measures

In this photo a crew member sanitizes the microphone on the podium that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will use. As per the first debate there are strict covid-19 rules in place tonight - in that first head-to-head Trump's family broke the rules by taking their masks off once seated, despite pleas from organizers.  

Polls going into final presidential debate

The polls this week show Biden’s consistent overall national lead over Trump narrowing slightly as crunch-time approaches. With 12 days to go until Election Day now, in some key states where Biden has also been miles ahead is also narrowing somewhat. In Pennsylvania, Biden’s lead has become a whole lot more flimsy, from 6pp down to 2, Democrats are also down in North Carolina this week by 1pp. But in Florida Biden’s up on Trump by almost 2pp from last week, from 3.3 to 5.

Trump on the move

The president doubling down on the cinematic approach - being the incumbent is quite the advantage, having all the trappings of power, such as Marine One, at your disposal.

Biden on stuttering

The VP tweeted this out a couple of hours ago. Whichever side of the debate you are on, the story of Brayden Harrington is a heart-warming one. You can see why Biden's doubling down on this - he's keen to put as much emphasis on the difference between his approach and Trump's caustic, combative way of seeing pretty much everything in life. 

Stand by for plenty of below the belt personal attacks, too

No doubt somewhere among all the chaos we will also see Trump attempting to shoe-horn in plenty of personal criticism, he’s been trying to paint Biden as corrupt for months. nothing is off the cards. And if Trump’s last week on twitter is anything to go by, he’ll take open shots at Biden’s son Hunter with glee. Biden will likely stick to his line of - Trump is not fit to be president, it’s that simple.

The topics: - National security and leadership

These are actually two topics, but they are rather vague and likely to bleed into each other. 

Arguably Trump’s most popular message has always been “America First”, since he first ran in 2016. Expect the president to stick to this like glue. He may focus on the multilateral agreements he has pulled out of during his time in office (like the Iran nuclear deal) that he says were not in America’s interests. He’ll also brag about the more than 320km of wall along the southern US border with Mexico that he’s constructed so far (that, spoiler alert - Mexico didn’t pay for).

Biden could accuse Trump of alienating allies and leaving America vulnerable with his rash withdrawals, and instead swing focus to Trump’s sustained relationship with Putin despite Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. In light of yesterday’s new revelations on voter data being hacked this could be a great tack for Biden to try.

The topics: Race in America

This was one of the spiciest last time, with Trump refusing to condemn a far right group called the Proud Boys. Let’s see if he’s learned from his mistake. If Biden gets a chance to say his piece this time round, he’s be smart to stick to the chaos of 2020 and the fact that Trump’s presidency has overseen the worst race riots since the 1960’s, not just in America but worldwide.

No doubt Trump will try to keep the focus on law and order, highlighting his militant response to the riots this summer, which works to keep his base on side but little to attract undecided voters. In the past Biden has countered with softer messaging: “I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America…we can have both.”

The topics: Climate change

No doubt Trump will attempt to focus on Biden’s previous support for scaling down fracking, to try and win over the still undecided in states like Pennsylvania where thousands of jobs rely on the industry. We saw Mike Pence in the Vice Presidential debate expertly avoid being an outright climate change denier while shifting the focus where it could hurt Biden/Harris the most.

The topics: American families

Trump is desperate to win back support of America’s educated suburban women, who he’s consistently alienated for 4 years, and it’s not going well. Biden could highlight his neglect for childcare services during the pandemic and have this one in the bag, too. He’s even tweeting about it tonight ahead of the debate. Can the incumbent claw back support by focusing on his hard-line on law and order?

 

 

The topics: Fighting covid-19

If Biden can’t slam-dunk this topic, he’s not on top form tonight. The atrocious handling of the pandemic has been on his opponent’s watch, Trump’s overseen over 220,000 deaths and the worst economic crisis since the depression is in the offing. In contrast Biden trusts the scientists (something Trump has now started attacking him over directly) and has never tested positive himself.

Tonight's topics

Tonight’s topics will be:

- Fighting COVID-19
- American Families
- Race in America
- Climate Change
- National Security
- Leadership

Note that for the first debate, the 90 minutes was broken down into six 15-minute segments, but there's been no confirmation that will be the same tonight, so some sections may be longer. 

Last chance debate for Trump

A lot of analysts are saying this is Trump’s last chance to turn things around as he trails in the polls to an extent that makes his re-election fairly unlikely right now. 

For most people, Trump’s belligerent approach in the first debate was seen as ineffective with only his hard core base enjoying that approach. He really needs to convince suburban women if he’s going to turn this around, but most readings are that they are turned off by his combative approach. 

The question then is if he’ll be able to change his demeanour for tonight’s debate. Having seen his behaviour on the 60 minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, that looks… unlikely. 

Who is moderator Kristen Welker?

NBC White House correspondent Welker has plenty of experience, but of course the question on everybody’s lips is how she’ll deal with Trump, even with the mute button. 

Trump for his part has already called her ‘biased’, because, well, Trump. 

The first debate: a chaotic, unruly affair

If you want to see how the first debate went down, check it out. But if you did miss it, you won’t learn much - there was a lot more heat than light, mostly due to Trump’s constant heckling of Biden, which in turn pushed the challenger to tell the incumbent to “stop yapping”, “shut up man” and to tell him “you’re the worst president in the world”. Much policy there was not...

Second and final debate

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, ahead of the election on 3 November.

The debate tonight is taking place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, which has previously hosted one debate, in 2008, between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The debate gets underway at 9 p.m. ET, and will be moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for the network. 

What Welker has that Chris Wallace, who chaired the first debate, didn’t have is a mute button, installed for tonight’s proceedings to stop Trump constantly interrupting his opponent. But it will only be used during the two minute response to each question, not during the open debate. 

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