Trump and Biden face off in a final presidential debate


Photo taken by Mariam Hanna.

Maddie Lawson, Staff Writer

In a fast paced policy debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, candidates exchanged political attacks on the other in one final attempt to secure the 2020 presidential election for their party. The candidates faced off in this final debate of the election on Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on the debate stage in Nashville, Tennessee.

Leading up to the showdown, the focus was largely surrounding the new rules participants would be subjected to. Following the first debate between Trump and Biden, the commission for presidential debates announced that candidates’ microphones would be muted when it was outside of their allotted speaking time. This change was enacted Thursday night, and interruptions were minimal. 

Candidates spent a majority of the evening comparing ideas and policies on issues that will matter to voters, unlike the first debate, which was characterized by the many cheap insults and interruptions thrown back and forth repeatedly. Though both Trump and Biden made use of one-line political takedowns on their opponent, this manifested itself in the form of strategic attacks on the others’ integrity, character, and political records in this final debate. 

Much of the time was spent discussing the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which may play a deciding factor in many voters’ decisions this fall. Trump doubled down on his defense of his response, which is especially poignant now that he has both contracted and recovered from the disease in recent weeks. 

“We’re rounding the corner; it’s going away,” Trump said last night when questioned about what may be coming next. “We’re not going to have a dark winter.”

Biden was quick in his critique of this optimism, citing recent spikes in coronavirus cases around the country and the death count that is expected to continue increasing at alarming rates according to current projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States,” he said in one response to President Trump.

There was significant discussion on foreign policy, the economy, climate change, immigration, election security, and racial issues in America right now. Many of these discussions got derailed by personal attacks on the other, but the debating itself was far more substantial than anything voters have been able to see with both candidates present this election cycle. 

Biden shared his plans to improve upon the existing Affordable Care Act, spoke on the need for reform within the immigration process, and promised voters that he would be tough on foreign leaders trying to intervene in the United States. Trump on the other hand praised his own immigration policies, saying that the United States borders have never been stronger. He also spoke on his environmental plan, boasting low carbon emissions over the past four years. 

The debate would not have been complete without the insults on each others’ characters that audiences have grown to expect. The subject of much scrutiny was corruption in politics, and moderator Kristen Welker questioned each about the topic. Biden was asked about Trump’s claims of the former vice president’s involvement with the Chinese and Ukrainian government, all claims which he denied repeatedly. Trump was pressed about his taxes once again, as he has yet to release any of his tax returns.  

This final presidential debate in the 2020 election cycle begins the home stretch of both candidates’ campaigns. Early voting has begun in many states including Michigan, and voters all across the country are already casting their ballots. The candidates’ performance in this last debate gave each of them a final opportunity to compensate for previous shortcomings, tout their successes, bash their opponents, and prove to voters why they should be elected president.The presidential election is on Nov. 3.