Pandemic leadership proves focal point of final presidential debate


Zoe Stratos | staff writer


After appearing for the first time on stage together on Sept. 29 in what only could be described as a chaotic 90 minutes, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden came together last Thursday for another go at a presidential debate.

Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19 in early October led to the second debate being canceled. With only one remaining debate, this was the candidates’ last chance to plead their cases to citizens as to why they deserve to be the president of the United States.

Hosted by Belmont University and moderated by NBC’s White House Correspondent, Kristen Welker, the debate covered six topics over the course of 90 minutes including the pandemic, national security, American families, race in America, climate change and leadership. Due to the overabundant interruptions during the last debate, each candidate was given two minutes to speak — uninterrupted — with a series of rebuttals after answers. During the two minutes, the opposition’s microphone was muted.

Starting off with COVID-19 — arguably the most prominent topic — each candidate took his own route on answering questions regarding the upcoming vaccine, reopening the country and providing economic relief for small businesses and schools.

Trump focused on defending his four years as president; however, he brought up that the U.S. has “rounded the corner — it’s going away,” as well as that a vaccine is in the near future. He also highlighted that the country needed to reopen as soon as possible to continue the economic prosperity he is congratulated for.

After the debate, fact checkers noted that the U.S. has not rounded the corner yet. According to the COVID-19 Tracking Project, around 60,000 new cases are reported daily, which is up from around 50,000 in early October.

Biden, looking more so at the future, asserted that he will look at the science to deliver transparency to the public, enforce mask wearing, sanitizing and social distancing and provide resources to businesses and schools to make sure they open safely.

During the national security portion, the debate became more accusatory rather than a policy debate.

Both candidates continuously accused the other of collusion — specifically with Russia and China. In this section, Trump told Biden he “owes an explanation to the American people” amid recent questions regarding his son, Hunter Biden’s, overseas business ventures. Biden ignored these claims, responding to the president, “I have released all of my tax returns … You have not released a single solitary year.” Trump replied that he would release the tax returns as soon as he could — a claim he has made without follow-up for years.

Next, the two candidates talked about American families, specifically healthcare.

Trump claimed that he would overturn Obamacare, as he overturned the individual mandate during his first four years. He also included that he would form a better plan — one that would better protect people with preexisting conditions. Biden claimed to build off of Obamacare by passing a public option, reducing premiums and assuring that private insurance holders would not lose their healthcare.

During the race in America topic, Trump improved from his argument during the first debate by talking of his efforts to reform the prison system. Trump may have lost ground when he claimed that he is “the least racist person in the room,” but again gained ground in coining the phrase “all talk, no action” in reference to Biden’s lack of action in over 35 years in politics. As a response, Biden took ownership of his mistakes with the crime bills during the 1980s and ‘90s.

The climate change section largely surrounded Biden’s clean energy policies. After Trump asked him “would you close down the oil industry?” Biden quickly returned with, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes” — a statement that could lose him votes in the last days leading to the election.

Lastly, during the leadership section, both ended the debate with final inaugural statements. Both highlighted their strongest policy beliefs, and assured the American people they made the right choice.

The race is tighter than we think after this presidential debate, and the upcoming Election Day is Nov 3.