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Key takeaways from the final U.S. Presidential Debate

  • After an outrageously heated first outing between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, both candidates were visibly restrained earlier today - as the mute button, or the threat of it, dictated the nature of a somewhat inconsequential debate.
Published October 23, 2020
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After an outrageously heated first outing between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, both candidates were visibly restrained earlier today - as the mute button, or the threat of it, dictated the nature of a somewhat inconsequential debate.

Both candidates were noticeably deliberate and composed, daring not to interrupt each other under the looming threat of being muted, and conceding any points on the subsequent opinion polls - making this a uniquely effective debate. While President Trump was far less aggressive than this previous outing, he was sharp and assertive in his delivery, firing off questions pertaining to Biden’s past record on criminal justice reforms, Hunter Biden’s illicit activities, among others.

Here are some key takeaways from the final Presidential Debate:

The COVID-19 pandemic: The Trump campaign raised criticism that the debate was intended to be focused on foreign policy, to which the Trump Administration would have lauded their accomplishments in the Middle East, Syria, while also given the opportunity to discuss Hunter Biden’s illicit business interests in China. However, the debate began with a top that a majority of Americans care about, the COVID-19 pandemic. The President touted that a vaccine could potentially be ready “in weeks”, giving his own personal testimony to the effectiveness of these new drugs in his treatment, boasting that he became “immune” as a result. His main competitor however, went on the attack in his rebuttal, pointing out that the President repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the situation and inadequately prepared the government’s response to the pandemic, adding that 220,000 Americans have already died, with another 200,000 by the end of the year.

The President opted to abruptly move away from this line of questioning, as in the back-and-forth between the candidates, he continued to take a more optimistic stance that the situation was improving and that Americans were “learning to live with the disease”.

The Hunter Biden Controversy: President Trump has repeatedly used the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden, and his alleged business interests in China and Russia, as a campaign talking point - similar to his incessant use of Hilary Clinton’s emails, Benghazi, and the infamous phrase “lock her up”. President Trump alleged that Biden has personally profited from his son’s business deals in Ukraine, Russia and China - with Biden not only flatly denying these accusations, but also raising the issue of the President’s suspicious financial matters and business ties with autocratic regimes. President Trump retorted that he “pre-paid” millions of dollars in taxes, and that he would eventually release his tax returns when his alleged “audits” were completed - with no sufficient evidence or substantiation to support his stance.

Immigration: In the previous election, President Trump ran an aggressive campaign against illegal immigration, promising to “build a wall” along the Mexican border, and more infamously placing illegal immigrant children into detention camps. However, when the topic came up in last night’s debate, the President aimed to downplay some of the more extreme steps he has taken during his time in office. When asked about his administration’s controversial policy of separating children from the parents of undocumented immigrants (many of whom sought asylum) and placing them in “cages”, the President attempted to divert the blame by stating that those detention facilities were build by the Obama Administration - adding that the children were “so well taken care of”. Biden responded that the Trump Administration’s inhumane immigration policies made America a “laughing stock” in the eyes of the international community.

Criminal Justice Reform: In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, and an international conversation on racism and criminal justice reform, President Trump did not risk being associated with white supremacy at a crucial point in the campaign - and eventually boasted about his administration’s success in criminal justice reform. The President attacked Biden for his sponsorship of a draconian crime bill in the 1990s, which led to an unprecedented increase in the number of African-Americans being incarcerated; questioning why the former Vice President was not unable to succeed under the Obama Administration, adding that “it’s all talk but no action with these politicians”.

As the final Presidential Debate concluded, the shadow of the tumultuous first outing still hangs over the process; as most Americans have already cast their ballots (with approximately 45 million having voted), and polls showing that many citizens have already made up their minds - with Biden leading nationwide (with a 51.2% approval rating) and the incumbent massively underperforming (with a 42.4% approval rating).


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Key takeaways from the final U.S. Presidential Debate

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