The second and final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden took place Thursday night in what experts are calling a “more normal” debate when compared to the original showdown between the two candidates.
Trump entered the debate and maintained a relatively calm presence, under the advice of his administration who pleaded with the president to cool down this round. The basis of his arguments remained the same as the previous debate: he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and took no personal responsibility for America’s failings in handling it, threw personal attacks at Biden, and lacked an overall sense of substance in his answers. For example when asked about a health care agenda for his second term, Trump avoided the question and yet again made it through the night without mentioning a plan.
Additionally, the first question Trump was asked regarded how he would lead during the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic, to which the president reflected on the “success” he’s already had within the past year. The centerpiece of Trump’s arguments focused on the mentality that “it could be worse,” despite the fact that more than 220,000 Americans have now died.
“It will go away and as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
Trump made the above claim while avoiding discussing the multiple surges in cases occurring all across the nation currently. He did optimistically claim that a vaccine would be arriving “within weeks,” despite having no real evidence that that’s true. In a later portion of the debate he backtracked and mentioned that there was no “guarantee” one would be ready but he’s hopeful one will be ready by the end of the year.
Biden then offered a much darker, more realistic, painting of America’s handling of this virus, claiming we’re heading toward a very “dark winter” due to the action’s of Trump. Biden accused Trump of denying responsibility for Covid’s spreading in the US and downplaying the virus for months despite the piles of evidence being presented to him.
“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths [over 200,000] should not remain as President of the United States of America.”
When discussing how he would handle the virus, Biden was able to list out some more specifics in terms of a concrete plan of action. He said he would establish a national standard for the reopening of schools and businesses and stimulus payments to get the nation as a whole back on track. He also projected that a vaccine wouldn’t realistically be available in America until at least the middle of next year, which is more on par with what public health experts are claiming, so instead he knows the biggest concern will be minimizing the spread.
Trump, however, already has 50 million votes cast for him, and as he nears the same position he was in four years ago when he was going up against Hilary Clinton, he’s decided to resort to the same tactics he used back then to hopefully secure him another win. He tried to paint Biden to be a typical politician, like he did with Clinton, and pointed out that he’s been in office for nearly 50 years and America still has the same issues it did 50 years ago, like systemic racism. Trump continued to try to place every systemic issue America has experienced within the past five decades on Biden, which only gave Biden an opening to discuss all the successes that occurred under the Obama administration.
Trump then continued to attack Biden and brought up the allegations made against his son Hunter and his involvement with the Ukraine, to which Biden just turned it back around and mentioned that “the guy who got in trouble in Ukraine was this guy,” pointing to Trump, “trying to bribe the Ukrainian government to say something negative about me, which they would not do.” Remember, it was Trump’s actions in the Ukraine that led to his impeachment.
Biden then fully flipped the attack on Trump by going down the list of all his failings, specifically in terms of his administration’s economic, health care, and immigration policies. This was the moment in the debate that viewers really saw the difference between their two candidates. One answered every policy related question with a series of detailed proposals that explained how each would impact the average American household while the other kept the statements short, general and in high praise of the current administration.
Biden continued to assert his position byt slamming Trump for trying to have the Supreme Court undo the Affordable Care Act and all of its protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions; a pool of people that Biden mentioned will soon include those who suffered from Covid-19. Trump has long promised a new health care plan that would protect all Americans regardless of their current health status, but hasn’t even mentioned the specifics of a new plan once within the past four years.
Biden, on the other hand, detailed his already existing proposal that would allow Americans to buy into a public health insurance program, he called the proposal “Bidencare.” He also asserted that minimum wage should be nationally raised to $15 an hour while Trump said the matter was up to the states.
Then, more importantly, the issue of immigration was brought up, to which Biden immediately mentioned the 545 children that were separated from their parents at the border this week, to which Trump responded that they were being “very well taken care of,” despite the fact that some haven’t seen their families in months, which made Biden very upset.
“They got separated from their parents, and it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”
The issue of race and systemic racism was then raised, to which Trump claimed he’s done more for African Americans than any previous president since Abraham Lincoln, claiming to be the “least racist person in the room.” Biden then cast Trump and his entire administration as one that has consistently sought out to divide the country racially.
“Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. This guy has a dog whistle as big as a fog horn.” The night then ended with Biden claiming he would transition the country away from the oil industry because of how much it pollutes the earth. As of right now the race is stagnant, so the most important thing to remember is to get out and vote!!
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Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.