By: Nikita Vandrangi — Political Editor
The country witnessed a much more calm and civilized debate between the two presidential candidates. The debate was held in Nashville, Tennessee at Belmont University, moderated by NBC White House Correspondent, Kristen Welker. After the utter chaos that ensued in the candidates’ previous debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates put a new rule in place that would mute candidates’ mics during the other’s turn. The debate consisted of six major topics.
The candidates were first asked about COVID-19. President Donald J. Trump emphasized that cases were going down in places that previously had spikes. He stated his administration is “fighting it hard” and that a vaccine will be ready very soon citing companies like Johnson and Johnson and Moderna. Trump recalled his own experience with the virus as well as his son, Barron Trump’s, to which the president added that “99.9% of young people” recovered from the virus.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Vice President Joe Biden focused his answer on how his administration would handle the virus. “People are learning to die with it,” he said, and a Biden administration would ramp up testing, set national standards reopening, and give financial resources to schools and businesses.
Trump expressed he would keep the country open in order for businesses to survive, specifically stating that democratic cities with heavy restrictions were “dying.” Biden did not rule out the idea of more shutdowns, claiming he would need to assess the state of the virus.
On the topic of national security and foreign influence on the elections, the candidates went back and forth attacking each other with respect to their relationships with foreign countries. Trump continually alleged that Biden was receiving millions of dollars from Russia, bringing up Hunter Biden and Biden’s two brothers. Biden claimed countries that interfere in the elections will pay and that he has not received “a single penny” from any foreign source.
When asked about his tax returns, Trump stated that he had pre-paid millions of dollars in taxes and wanted to release his returns but has not reached a deal yet. On North Korea, Trump said, “North Korea—we’re not in a war. We have a good relationship.” However, Biden responded with, “we had a good relationship with Hitler before he in fact invaded the rest of Europe.”
They then moved onto the topic of healthcare. Trump stated that his administration terminated the individual mandate, as he condemned Obamacare, claiming that he will come up with a much better healthcare plan. He maintained his promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and went onto label Biden’s plan as “socialized medicine.”
Biden denied this claim and said he would pass Obamacare with a public option, calling it “Bidencare.” Biden said he would reduce premiums and drug prices, support private insurance, and protect those with pre-existing conditions.
Trump named Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the primary reason for not passing the stimulus bill, stating he would have liked to approve it otherwise. When asked why Biden hasn’t pushed Democrats enough to pass a bill, he responded by citing the HEROES Act that had been passed this previous summer by the house.
Biden said he supports a $15 minimum wage, stating it is important to bail out small businesses and help out schools. Trump stated it should be a state option for the minimum wage because each state has different needs.
The candidates were asked about their immigration policies, specifically in light of the recent developments where the parents of 545 immigrant children were not found. Trump detailed that children were brought by coyotes and “bad people” and he emphasized that the cages were built in the Obama administration, to which Biden denied separating children from their families. Trump highlighted his administration’s removal of the “catch and release” migrant policy.
Biden laid out his prospective plans describing that within his first 100 days he will have sent a bill to congress outlining a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He included that DACA and Dreamer children would be certified and set for citizenship as well.
On the topic of race, Biden stated that the country needs to acknowledge institutional racism. He said he will create more economic opportunities, specifically for businesses, provide better access to schooling, and try to free the country of violence. Trump hit Biden on the 1994 Crime Bill also including that the Obama administration did nothing to help the state of race relations in the country.
“Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump…with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I’ve done,” Trump said.
When asked about climate change, Trump stated that he wanted a clean environment, specifically clean air, but that he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords because he did not want to sacrifice businesses and jobs for it. He said we now have the best and lowest number in carbon emissions.
Biden called climate change an “existential threat to humanity” and heavily emphasized that his climate plan would create millions of new jobs while growing the economy and cleaning the environment. He made it clear once again that he does not oppose fracking and would not ban it.
For the final question, the candidates were asked what they would say on inauguration day to the people who did not vote for them. Trump stated he wants to make America successful by rebuilding it. He said we have the best unemployment numbers amongst black, Hispanic, and Asian workers as well as among women. “If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very very sad day for this country,” said Trump.
Biden says he would choose hope over fear and move the country forward by growing the economy, by making sure we deal with racism, and that we are motivated by clean energy. “I’m an American president. I represent all of you. Whether you voted for me or against me, I’m going to make sure you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope,” Biden said.