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Last Debate Kicks Off With More Civility

Last Debate Kicks Off With More Civility

Thursday’s final presidential debate in Nashville kicked off with much more civility than the first debate with talk coronavirus plans.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took turns and didn’t speak over each other early on as they did in the first debate, though Trump did take an opportunity to get an early jab at what was expected to be an attack on Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

“We can’t lock ourselves up in the basement like Joe does,” Trump said. “He has the ability to lock himself up … He’s obviously made a lot of money someplace.”

Biden laughed and didn’t respond.

But the subject was expected to come up later in the debate.

Biden later noted it is Trump’s “ineptitude” that caused the country to have to shut down in large part and why businesses have gone under and why schools are closed.

“Instead of in a sand trap at his golf course he should have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats,” Biden said.

“There’s a lot riding on this debate,” pollster John McLaughlin told Newsmax TV. “more so for Joe Biden.”

That, McLaughlin said, because President Trump’s base is solid.

“What you look at Joe Biden entering this debate now with these blockbuster bombshell. That is not an understatement, including this confidante of the Biden cartel here that is now offered up basically confirming all the emails and text messages that I’ve been floating around about Hunter. Joe Biden has everything to lose tonight.

Former Hunter Biden business associate Tony Bobulinski held a press conference ahead of the debate, reiterating previous statement that Joe Biden was aware of Hunter Biden’s overseas dealings.

Political analyst Mark Halperin told Newsmax TV that though Trump didn’t do well in the first debate, he’s not much different than most incumbent presidents, noting that Barack Obama lost his first debate, only to come back stronger in the final debate.

Rep. Mike Burgess, R-Texas, told Newsmax TV Trump “is going to win reelection tonight,” and the debate will “perhaps be the first step in solidifying that.”

The race will be close, Burgess said, but the president’s gonna prevail.”

The debate offers their final national stage to outline starkly different visions for a country in the grips of a surging pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Despite historic tumult, the race has remained largely unchanged with Biden holding advantages in many battleground states while Trump faces a shortage of campaign cash and, crucially, time.

Worried that Trump could lose the White House and cost Republicans the Senate, some advisers urged him to trade his aggressive demeanor from the first debate for a lower-key style and put the spotlight on Biden, whom he derides as “Sleepy Joe.” But Trump made no such promise.

Biden, who has stepped off the campaign trail for several days in favor of debate prep, expects Trump to get intensely personal. The former vice president and his inner circle see the president’s approach chiefly as an effort to distract from the coronavirus, its economic fallout and other crises of Trump’s term.

More than 42 million people have already cast their ballots as part of a pandemic-era rise in early voting. In an election dominated by a polarizing president, far fewer undecided voters remain than at this point in 2016.

Sheets of plexiglass had been installed onstage between the two men, but ABC News reported just prior to the debate that they were removed at the request of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force said that since the candidates were 12 feet apart it was safe to remove the barriers.

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, is a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters. And questions swirled as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed deeply personal attacks on Biden and his adult son.

In an effort to curtail interruptions this time, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of six debate topics.

The mute button won’t figure in the open discussion portion of the debate.

When he feels cornered, Trump has often lashed out, going as negative as possible. In one stunning moment during the 2016 campaign, in an effort to deflect from the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which he is heard boasting about groping women, Trump held a press conference just before a debate with Hillary Clinton during which he appeared with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. He then invited them to watch as audience members.

Trying to stage another comeback in a campaign’s closing days, Trump this time is using the power of the presidency to attack his rival.

On Tuesday, he called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into claims about Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections.

Biden could also expect questions about his comments in a CBS interview, released Thursday, in which he wouldn’t rule out trying to add justices to the Supreme Court. The issue has followed him since the Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the GOP-controlled Senate’s rush to confirm Trump’s nominee to succeed her, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

As for Biden’s family, Trump has been promoting an unconfirmed New York Post report from last week that cites an email in which an official from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma apparently thanks Hunter Biden, who served on the company’s board, for arranging for him to meet Joe Biden during a 2015 visit to Washington. The Biden campaign has rejected Trump’s assertion of wrongdoing and notes that Biden’s schedule did not show a meeting with the Burisma official.

Biden and Trump were both tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and the results came back negative.

Trump announced just two days after the first debate that he tested positive for the virus. He later spent three nights in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before returning to the White House.

The one-two punch of the first presidential debate and Trump’s three-day hospital stint with COVID-19 rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House and Senate could be slipping away.

The initial debate’s belligerent tone was somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign. Amid heated clashes over the pandemic, the Supreme Court and the integrity of the election itself, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

After Trump’s COVID diagnosis, the debate commission ruled that the second debate, which was to have been held last week, be virtual. Trump balked, and the two men holding dueling town halls instead, speaking at the same time more than 1,000 miles apart.

As Trump continued to complain he was being treated unfairly by the news media, he posted on Facebook unedited footage of his own 60 Minutes interview, where he repeatedly told CBS interviewer Lesley Stahl she would not have challenged Biden.

“You wouldn’t say to Biden what you just said to me,” Trump told Stahl when she questioned his characterization of the economy prior to the pandemic. “If he had it, you would never say that to Biden.”

After posting the video, Trump tweeted: “Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Published at Thu, 22 Oct 2020 20:01:57 +0000