Final Presidential Debate: The Last Attempt at Turning the Tide

Statesman breaks down views on COVID-19, National Security, Health Care, Immigration, Race and Climate Change


Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump (licensed under Creative Commons) Courtesy of Kaos en la Red

On Thursday, October 22, the final presidential debate was held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, between Former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden and current Republican President, Donald Trump. 

In stark contrast to the first presidential debate, both candidates engaged in a mostly civil debate led by NBC News’s Kristen Welker, stating what exactly it was that they wanted the American people to understand about their views before Election Day. 

In a considerably more calm manner than the first time, Trump centered his arguments around attacking his opponent. At the same time, Biden chose to directly state his policies, going on both the offense and defense this time around. 

Several topics were discussed, including points regarding the coronavirus pandemic, national security, health care, immigration, race in America, and climate change. The debate concluded with both candidates’ statements addressing what they would say to the Americans who did not vote for them during their inaugural address.



Trump started the debate by reiterating key points he mentioned in the first debate, stating how the Trump Administration has contributed to flattening spikes and lowering mortality rates. He also claimed that a vaccine was ready and “going to be announced in weeks,” a promise he has made repeatedly in the past.

“We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner,” Trump said in response to how he would lead the country through the pandemic. “It’s going away.”

Biden disagreed with Trump’s claims, criticizing the President’s lack of responsibility and proper handling of the situation. He brought up how Trump had done little to discuss the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping and how Trump had repeatedly claimed that the virus would be gone by Easter of 2020. 

“If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this,” Biden said. “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” 

Trump quickly responded by bringing up the Swine Flu outbreak faced by the Obama Administration and their apparent mishandling of the situation, claiming that the Trump Administration had already done everything Biden planned to do. Trump also emphasized how businesses were being affected by the virus, repeatedly stating that the country could not be shut down. 

Biden insisted on enforcing more coronavirus measures and allocating more funding and resources to schools and businesses, mentioning how the President had known about the severity of the virus since early February of 2020 and did nothing about it. 

“He says […] we’re learning to live with it,” Biden said. “People are learning to die with it.”


National Security 

The 2016 election had been notorious for its several encounters with Russian influences, and as of recently, Iran has threatened Democratic voters with consequences if they did not vote for Trump. With the myriad of foreign influences, both candidates were asked how they would end this threat to national security. 

“Any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price,” Biden said in response to how he would address the issue. 

Biden went on to state the numerous foreign involvements in “American sovereignty” and criticized Trump’s lack of combating the issue himself. Trump responded by claiming that “there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.”

Both candidates repeatedly accused each other of taking money from foreign countries, including China, Russia, and Ukraine, while denying the accusations themselves. Trump accused both Biden and son Hunter Biden of gaining $3.5 million from Russia, to which Biden said, “I have not taken a single penny from any foreign source in my life,” before bringing up the President’s unreleased tax returns.

Trump claimed to have “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes, but no concrete evidence has been shown to back this up. Despite insisting that his taxes would be released soon, no such reports have been released to the public confirming or denying his claims.

The President was also recently under fire after the New York Times revealed that he had only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2017.


Health Care

Since the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, health care has been more of an issue now than ever before. While the Trump Administration has repeatedly voiced wanting to overturn the Affordable Care Act, most Americans have been against such action. 

Trump repeatedly criticized Obamacare and stated that it must be taken down to be replaced with a “much better healthcare.” He emphasized how such healthcare would “always protect people with pre-existing conditions” and went on to claim that Biden would tear down those with private health care while preserving Obamacare. 

Biden claimed that he would bypass Obamacare with a public option known as Bidencare, mentioning how such an act would promote competition within the industry. He also emphasized how he would not be taking away private health care, countering Trump’s statements. 

According to Biden’s official website, the four pillars of Bidencare include creating new, public health insurance options, reducing prescription drug costs, streamlining health care plans, and keeping health care accessible for all.

“People deserve to have affordable health care, period,” Biden said. “Period. Period. Period.”



The topic of immigration has been another controversial issue between the two candidates. The issue was further highlighted at the question of what to do with the 4,000 children separated from their families at the Mexican-American border. 

“Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels,” Trump said. “We let people in, but they have to come in legally.” He proceeded to talk about the “400 miles of brand-new wall” and reinforced border security instead of answering the question directly.

He directed attention towards the Obama Administration’s failure to handle the situation of immigration, claiming that they “built cages” without acknowledging the broader context of the situation. Biden was quick to shut down the idea, blasting the Trump Administration’s own “Zero Tolerance Policy” for separating children from their families. The “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Policy was the Trump Administration’s approach to entirely deter illegal immigration while encouraging stricter legislation to combat it. 

“It makes us a laughingstock, and it violates every notion of who we are,” Biden said. 


Race in America

Both candidates also addressed “the talk,” the conversation of how to handle the possibility of being racially discriminated against that many minority families have to discuss with their children. 

Biden acknowledged institutionalized racism in America and spoke of ways to provide for better economic conditions, healthcare, and educational opportunities, mentioning that he had laid out a clear plan on the matter. 

Trump talked about how much he had done for the Black community through the criminal justice reform bill, prison reform, and funding for historically Black colleges and universities, but did not answer the question directly. 

“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said. “Possible exception, but the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I’ve done.” 

Trump also went on to proclaim himself as “the least racist person in [the] room” after being prompted with whether or not his responses towards movements such as BLM have been appropriate for a president of the United States. 


Climate Change

Both candidates have been vocal on their stances on climate change, with Trump’s refusal to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and Biden’s insistence on rejoining. While Trump claimed the Paris Accords would ruin businesses, Biden claimed that joining was necessary due to them having a “moral obligation to deal with it.” 

Trump also claimed that the United States was at its best carbon emission numbers in 35 years, something that hasn’t been entirely true throughout his presidency. He claimed that his refusal to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords prevented the sacrificial of American businesses, stating that the Accords would have “destroyed us.” 

When confronted with the issue of fracking, Biden also stated that he would “transition from the oil industry” due to pollution caused by it, to which Trump directly addressed viewers by asking, “Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania?” 


Inaugural Address

Concluding the debate, both candidates were asked what they would say to the Americans who did not vote for them during their inaugural address. Trump declared that electing Biden would worsen America’s economic state for all its citizens by raising taxes, ruining 401ks, and enacting new restrictions that would “kill it.” 

“Success is going to bring us together,” Trump said. “We are on the road to success.”

Biden closed out the debate by declaring himself as an “American President,” stating that they would choose hope over fear and pursue new opportunities. 

“I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me,” Biden said. “And I’m going to make sure you’re represented.”

Despite the considerable shift in tone from both candidates during the final debate, most sources do not believe that it will contribute much to change the course of the election itself. Currently, Biden maintains his lead over Trump in polls.

With more than 50 million people already voted and only 11 days until Election Day, America has yet to see what the outcome of their next President will be.