Trump and Biden take the debate stage for the final time


Used with permission from Flickr by Adam Schultz

Trump on the debate stage. Trump debates former Vice President Joe Biden at Belmont University. The media illustrated the debate as more successful than the first debate.

Kailee O'Donnell and Lucy Moon

On October 22, former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump engaged in the final presidential debate before the 2020 election on November 3. Kristen Welker of NBC News moderated the debate with different rules since the first debate. In an effort to avoid interruptions and maintain order, a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates was in charge of muting the microphones after each candidate spoke for their two minute period. Welker started off the debate by stating that there would be six topics and then dove into the first question.

Biden at his podium. On October 22, Joe Biden and President Donald Trump debated on six topics. Watchers viewed this debate as more beneficial than the first debate because of the termination of microphone usage. (Used with permission from Flickr by Adam Schultz)


Welker asked the candidates what Americans could expect from each administration regarding COVID-19. Trump launched into all the decisions he’s made concerning Americans’ health, including his future plan of distributing a vaccine. He kept his positive attitude, stating that the virus will soon go away under his administration. Biden claimed that too many American lives had been lost due to Donald Trump’s lack of planning. Additionally, Biden stated that he will have a plan to safely open up schools and businesses in the midst of the pandemic. Both candidates further discussed the vaccine, which included Trump’s optimism with a recovery timeline, as well as the distribution of a vaccine. Biden took a more somber approach. He claimed that Trump’s timeline was inaccurate because we’re “heading into a dark winter.” Trump retorted back with how the Obama Administration failed to act swiftly with the Swine Flu in 2009-2010. Biden then highlighted how Trump downplayed the virus from the beginning of February. Welker asked about the concern of shutting down the nation again. Biden claimed that he had no plan to shut down, but if spikes started occurring, it would be a possibility to slow the spread. Trump went on to say that the country could not stay closed due to alcohol, drug, and physical abuse problems within households. He concluded by stating that “the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

National Security

Moving on, Welker introduced the topic of national security, specifically the concern that Russia and Iran were working to influence the presidential election by obtaining US voter registration information. Biden assured that any outside influencers would “pay a price because they’re interfering with American sovereignty.” Furthermore, Biden also stated his confusion with why President Trump had not interacted with Putin. Trump responded that he had always been tough on Russia. Trump also attacked Biden with the alleged claim that Russia was giving money to Biden and his family. Biden responded by bringing up Trump’s bank account in China and his tax returns. This game of pointing fingers went on for several minutes before they moved on to discuss relations with China. Trump brought up his successful relationship with Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea. He bragged about how the United States was not in a war with him due to their relationship. Biden took his final moment to explain that he would be able to control the leader of North Korea under his administration.

American Families (Healthcare, Economy, and Immigration)

The next topic on the list was American Families, and the concerns of healthcare, the economy, and immigration. Trump made it clear that he believed that Obamacare was an unsuccessful plan, and said that he wants to come up with a whole new plan that focuses on protecting people with pre-existing conditions first. In contrast, Biden said that he would build off of Obamacare and call it “Bidencare.” Trump accused Biden of allowing the idea of socialized medicine to come to America. Biden admitted that his plan would need a large investment, but that it would also drop healthcare prices. Welker decided to bring up the minimum wage discussion and the struggle of small businesses. Biden argued that increasing the minimum wage would help small businesses and stimulate the economy, but Trump disagreed and stated that the minimum wage should be decided by each state. Welker then moved on to immigration, in which Trump responded first. Trump stated that he’s working on reuniting families because of lone children crossing the border. Biden disagreed and said most children come across the border with their parents. The topic ended with Trump accusing Obama’s administration of failing with immigration reform, and Biden responding that immigrants are essential to the United States. 

Race in America

Welker began the new topic by describing the fear that Black and Brown Americans face, asking if Biden and Trump understand this fear that people of color have for their children. Biden responded first, empathizing with people of color by explaining that his daughter is a social worker, so he has learned a lot about issues that minorities face from her. He also shared that “one of the reasons why [he] ended up working on the East Side of Wilmington, Delaware, which is 90% African-American, was to learn more about what was going on.” Trump was then given the opportunity to share his view on the topic, where he briefly stated that he understands their fear. He then went on to claim that Biden had not done anything to help the black community while he was vice president. Trump continued with the claim that “Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump. And if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception… nobody has done what [Trump has] done.” He concluded by emphasizing that he has helped the black community by providing more funding than Obama and Biden had for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Welker moderating the debate. Moderator Welker maintained order for this final debate between the two candidates. The media reported that her questions were unbiased. (Used with permission from Flickr by Adam Schultz)

Climate Change

Trump immediately took the opportunity to celebrate the environmental state of America under his administration, claiming that carbon admissions, air quality, and water quality were the best they had been in years. He continued to emphasize America’s success by sharing his belief that China, Russia, and India are filthy, leading to a point of contention for many viewers. Biden then shared his plan to improve the environment by investing in electric cars and charging stations to encourage the use of electric cars rather than gas-fueled vehicles. He said that his plan would better boost the economy and increase jobs. Trump also mentioned fracking, a form of mining that provides a lot of jobs for many Americans, which is why this point is controversial, and he claimed again that Biden would end fracking. Biden did not necessarily disagree, saying that he was still considering the possibility. He then clarified that he would only end fracking on federal land, not everywhere. Biden concluded by sharing that he wants to stop investing federal money into the oil industry to move away from the oil industry over time. Trump took the opportunity to state that Biden would end and therefore destroy the oil industry. 


The final topic of the debate proposed the candidates with the question of what they would say in their inauguration speech if elected. Trump answered first, describing the successes that he has made as president and claiming that he is cutting taxes and Biden would raise taxes and increase regulations. He also stated that if Biden won, his presidency would lead to a Depression for the American people. The same question was then presented to Biden, who took a different approach to appeal to the emotions of his audience, sharing that he would be a president for all Americans and that he would make an effort to represent all Americans, including those who did and did not vote for him. 

The debate closed with a greater air of professionalism than the first presidential debate. Many Americans walked away with more information and insight. However, at this point, as we approach Election Day, many believe that Americans have already made their decisions and that whatever their belief was before the debate was only unchanged or strengthened by these debates. 

Senior Sloane Womac shared her similar opinions. 

“I would say this debate was much more orderly and more productive than the last. Both candidates focused on answering the questions rather than attacking each other and their personal lives. This debate was productive for the American people because both candidates showed how they address many issues in their platform in their presidency. However, I do think that many people will be sticking to the candidate they wanted to vote for going into the debate.”

With Election Day around the corner, Americans wait in anticipation to see which candidate will win the presidency.