The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took place on Oct. 22. Photos [CC BY-SA 2.0] by Gage Skidmore and [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] by Biden for President.
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Highlights from the final presidential debate

United States President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debated on stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday. This was the final and third presidential debate after the second debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, was canceled due to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and disagreements over a virtual debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates implemented a new rule for this debate, allowing microphones to be muted after each candidate’s two-minute time limit for speaking is up. This change comes in response to the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, where multiple interruptions by both candidates took place.

The moderator for this debate was Kristen Welker, a journalist for NBC News. Welker asked questions concerning six topics: “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change” and “Leadership.”

Here are the candidates’ stances on each topic and highlights from the debate.

“Fighting COVID-19”

Both candidates discussed Congress’ current negotiation for a stimulus bill and their plans for the next stage of COVID-19.

Trump talked about an upcoming vaccine and said, “we’re rounding the corner.” He focused on his plan to reopen the nation and criticized Biden for his plan to close down if he was elected.

He also said, “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that [COVID-19] came here. It’s China’s fault.”

Biden’s plan for the next stage of COVID-19 would be to increase protections, including distributing necessary equipment for businesses and schools.

He also criticized Trump and said, “[Trump] says we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”

“American Families”

One major topic was healthcare concerning the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Trump focused on his plan to get rid of Obamacare and criticized Biden for his “socialist plan” of expanding Obamacare by providing a public option. Trump also criticized Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi for not passing a stimulus bill.

Biden discussed providing a public option for Obamacare. He also established his belief that affordable healthcare is a right and expressed support for private insurance. In response to Trump, Biden instead criticized Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for not passing a stimulus bill.

Another major topic was illegal immigration, specifically on the separation of detained children from their parents. This comes in light of a current situation where the parents of 545 separated children still haven’t been found.

Trump responded that these children came with “coyotes,” people that smuggle migrants across the U.S. border, and not their parents. He also stated that detained children are “well taken care of.” Trump repeated multiple times that Obama and Biden’s administration built the cages used in detention centers.

In disagreement with Trump, Biden responded that these children came with their parents and not “coyotes.” He also discussed his plan to provide a pathway to citizenship within his first 100 days in office, including those under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

DACA is an immigration policy that allows undocumented citizens who were brought as children to work or study legally in the United States. In 2017, Trump attempted to end DACA, but this was recently overturned by the Supreme Court.

“Race in America”

For this topic, both candidates debated each other’s policies that affect the Black community.

Biden agreed that there is institutional racism in America and believes in addressing it by providing economic opportunities, better education, better healthcare and aid to start businesses.

He also criticized Trump’s stances in the past, including his involvement with the Central Park Five where Trump called for the use of the death penalty. The Central Park Five was a case in 1989 where five teenagers were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman and served several years in prison.

Trump criticized Biden for his stance on the 1994 Crime Bill, a law Biden supported that dealt with crime and law enforcement. Many of these policies are considered failures and caused an acceleration of mass incarceration.

Trump also said, “Nobody has done more for the Black community than [me],” and “if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I’ve done.”

Trump criticized Biden for not implementing his policies under Obama’s administration when he served as vice president. He used the phrase, “All talk, no action,” to describe Biden’s years in office.

“Climate Change”

On the issue of climate change, Trump praised his climate programs along with the “cleanest air” and the “cleanest water.” He discussed his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, a global agreement that aims to lower the emission of greenhouse gases. He said millions of jobs would be sacrificed and trillions of dollars would be spent if the United States had stayed on the Paris Climate Accord.

Biden called climate change a “threat to humanity” and that “we have a moral obligation to deal with it.” He praised his own climate plan which he said will “create millions of new good-paying jobs.”

He also supported the use of solar energy and wind power and said it was the “fastest-growing industry in America.” Biden also plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord if elected.


Some major issues discussed under this topic were foreign influence, including that of Russia and China, along with Trump’s taxes and whether Biden received money from foreign sources.

Trump criticized Biden with claims that he received $3.5 million from Russia.

Biden responded with, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life.”

Biden repeatedly asked Trump to release his tax returns. Trump responded that he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” and would release his tax returns but didn’t state when.

Both candidates talked about their dealings with North Korea. Trump praised his relations with North Korea by meeting with Kim Jong Un. Biden said he wanted to hold North Korea accountable, which included policies of denuclearization.

The final question of the night was what each candidate would say if elected on their inauguration day to Americans who did not vote for them.

Trump’s response revolved around success and he said, “success is going to bring us together.”

He also said he is cutting taxes and criticized what Biden’s economy would look like if he was elected.

Biden responded with, “I represent all of you whether you vote for me or against me.”

He also mentioned choosing “hope over fear,” “science over fiction” and moving forward. He said that the “character of this country” is on the ballot this election.

To watch the full debate and read the transcript, click here.