Last debate between Trump and Biden was more civilized 2:19
(CNN) – President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden held a real debate Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the last time the two candidates shared the stage before the November 3 elections.
Unlike their first debate last month, the two candidates compromised each other (broadly) on issues, ably led by debate moderator Kristen Welker.RELATED
Here the best and worst of the night.
* Joe Biden: The former vice president was not perfect. But he did everything necessary, given his privileged position in the race, and even managed to land the best lines of the night. On the coronavirus, Biden mocked Trump’s phrase that “we are learning to live with it” by saying, “We are dying with it.”
After a lengthy exchange of views on their families and allegations of corruption, Biden turned to the camera and said, “This is not about his family or mine. It’s about your family.
And when the debate turned to race, Biden pulled this line on Trump: “This guy has a dog whistle as big as a fog horn.”
Those are the lines that will likely be repeated over and over in post-debate coverage, and that’s a good thing for Biden. But it wasn’t all good: Biden’s responses to Trump’s attacks on why he didn’t do more on immigration or race relations during his eight years as vice president were weak. (Biden blamed the Republican-controlled Congress.)
And particularly towards the end of the debate, Biden seemed to falter a bit, losing track of his thoughts and speaking ill at times. Biden will never be a great debater, and he wasn’t * on * Thursday night. But he did enough, more than enough, to keep the race pretty much where it is. Which is with him as a clear favorite to win on November 3.
* Kristen Welker: There’s no question that the NBC White House correspondent was the most effective moderator of this debating season. (I include both the other presidential debate and the vice presidential debate.)
She refused to be intimidated by Trump or let any of the candidates speak above her for an extended period of time. He stuck to the questions he wanted to ask, which included tough questions for Trump (his taxes) and Biden (his involvement in the 1994 crime bill).
Welker was helped by the silence of the candidates during certain parts of the debate, not to mention his clear fear of being silenced for interrupting. And Trump was far less belligerent in this debate than he was in the first one last month.
Nonetheless, Welker expertly played the hand he was dealt. It did not draw attention to itself or become a topic in the debate. And it gave, for the most part, a real debate on the issues between the two presidential candidates.
* The mute button: It wasn’t used as much as supporters on both sides had hoped, but there is NO doubt that the fear of the microphone being suddenly turned off worked as an effective deterrent for both Trump and Biden. Can we make this a permanent feature of discussions in the future?
* Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Trump not only mentioned the first-year Democratic congresswoman – by her initials only! – on several occasions, but he also said “she has a good l ine of things.” And no, I have no idea what the hell that means.
* Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator still has his crown as president who did the most for African Americans, at least according to Donald Trump. Second on that list? Well, Donald Trump, of course.
LOOK: Biden uses his first two minutes in the final debate to criticize Trump for handling the pandemic
* Donald Trump: The president was significantly better off in this debate than he was in the first one in late September. Clearly, his campaign aides (or someone) convinced him that his constant interruptions in the other debate were disastrous for him politically and that he needed to behave in the best way possible. And Trump tried to do just that.
He congratulated Welker at one point on how well he was moderating the debate, a planned move in advance if I’ve ever seen one, and for much of the first hour, he displayed a level of discipline in posts that he’s rarely been able to. continue during his presidency.
His attacks on Biden’s long tenure in politics were effective, as was his repeated reminder that Biden has been vice president for eight years and, in Trump’s view, hadn’t done as much.
So why is Trump in the category of “mistakes”? Three reasons.
Number one: he’s lagging behind and needed to use this debate to alter the course of the race. He didn’t do that. Number two: Trump was unable to maintain the quasi-presidential tone throughout the debate. By the end, he was talking about being the “least racist person” in the building and insisting that he knew more about the wind than Biden. Number three: He just said it, so many false things. (More on that below.)
* Truth: From your first response to the debate, in which you said that more than 2 million Americans would have died if you had not taken such swift action against the coronavirus – that number was the estimated death that would have occurred through NO mitigation – to In his latest answer on how the 401k will collapse if Biden is elected president, Trump showed remarkable disdain for facts and truth.
“From a lying perspective, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate”, tweeted CNN fact checker Daniel Dale. To be clear: Trump’s willingness to outright exaggerate, cheat and lie is not going to change many minds about him, for better or for worse. But the facts and the truth are still important. And they had a HARD night on Thursday.
LEE: Last debate between Trump and Biden: the highlights
* Climate change: Ask any scientist what is the most pressing issue of our time and they will tell you that it is global warming. Given that, it felt like climate change shouldn’t have been the final topic of the debate – footwear in the last eight minutes – as Welker was quick to wrap it all up in about 90 minutes. And the brief responses that the candidates, especially Trump, gave on the subject were quite embarrassing. “We have so many different programs,” Trump said when asked about global warming. “I love the environment.” AHA.
* Liberals: The left had to be disheartened not only by Biden’s insistence that he will never move to ban fracking, but also by his retort to Trump’s attacks of being indebted to the policies pushed by liberals in his party . “I’m Joe Biden,” Biden said. “I beat them all.”
* Imitation of Biden of Trump: On two occasions during the 90 minutes or so, the president tried to imitate Biden. (Both occasions were to claim that Biden had said he would ban fracking.) Neither attempt was very good. And while we’re on the subject, Woody Harrelson’s Biden is 1,000 times better than Jim Carrey’s.