With millions of people watching on television, only around 200 were inside the massive college arena in Nashville where President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, faced off in their second and final debate of the 2020 election.
In a contrast to the first debate, the two went more than 15 minutes before interrupting each other at Thursday night's debate. Helped by a rule that switched off the microphone for the candidate who was not talking, the two traded sharp barbs and critiques, but at least kept their voices lowered.
Trump defended his management of the nation's most deadly health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden's warning that the nation had a dire stretch ahead due to spikes in infections. And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks.
“It will go away,” said Trump, staying with his optimistic assessment of the pandemic. “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
“We can’t keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy," Trump said. "There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
But Biden vowed that his administration would defer to the scientists and said that Trump's divisive approach hindered the nation's response.
On the subject of national security, Biden says any country that interferes in American elections will pay a price if he’s elected, saying, “They are interfering with American sovereignty.”
US officials have reported that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. Officials have also accused Iran of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Trump.
Trump said that nobody has been tougher on Russia through sanctions and pushing for increased military spending by NATO.
On North Korea, Trump said the Obama administration left him a “mess” to deal with in terms of tempering relations between the United States and North Korea.
Trump said he had warded off a war that could have threatened millions of lives, saying President Barack Obama had told him he viewed potential danger from Kim Jong Un as among the country’s greatest national security threats.
Biden responded that Trump had “legitimized” a “thug” by meeting with and forging a relationship with Kim.
Trump countered that Kim “didn’t like Obama” and insisted, “Having a good relationship with other countries is a good thing.”
Biden said his son did nothing inappropriate while working for a company in Ukraine. Trump noted that the former vice president’s son Hunter Biden drew a large salary from a Ukrainian firm. Biden responded that the accusation had been investigated repeatedly and did not link him to any wrongdoing. He also noted that the president was impeached for attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to find potentially damaging information on the Bidens.
He then attempted to turn the question into an attack on Trump, focusing on a recent report in The New York Times that Trump has a bank account in that country.
Trump responded, “I have many bank accounts and they’re all listed and they’re all over the place.” He said that the Chinese account in question was opened in 2015 and closed in 2017, “I believe."
On the question of coronavirus aid relief, Trump and Biden blamed each other and each other’s political parties for the failure to provide a new round of coronavirus aid relief.
Trump blamed Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even as Pelosi continues to negotiate a deal with Trump’s emissary, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He suggested Pelosi doesn’t want to do anything that would help him.
Biden said if elected he would push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and rejected the idea that it would hurt small businesses.
“There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business," he said.
President Trump argued that the minimum wage should be left as an issue for the states to determine. He said, “How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages? What’s going to happen, and what’s been proven to happen, is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees.”
On the subject of racism in America, Trump attacked Biden over his support for a 1994 crime bill, part of a furious, larger back-and-forth over racism.
Trump said the legislation “did such harm to the Black community.”
Biden has called the law a mistake in the past, and he reiterated that statement. He said, “The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America.”
Trump responded that Biden had four years as vice president to combat racism but failed to do so.
He said, “You’re all talk and no action, Joe.”
CBN News Political Analyst David Brody noted President Trump hammered home one point during Thursday's debate -- that after all his long political career in Washington, Biden is all talk and no action.
.@realDonaldTrump has effectively hammered home a very simple theme tonight and that is this: 'what have you done Joe during all your time in DC? You're all talk no action.' That message will have traction. #DebateTonight #debate
— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) October 23, 2020
The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE FREE CBN NEWS APP
Click Here Get the App with Special Alerts on Breaking News and Top Stories