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The final debate was a much more civil affair, but the two men still clashed on the pandemic and immigration.

US Election 2020: Biden and Trump argue over COVID-19, race and Russian interference in final debate

US Election 2020: Biden and Trump argue over COVID-19, race and Russian interference in final debate

Sky:BBC:CNN:Reuters:LT24::Joe Biden has renewed his attack on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during the final debate ahead of the presidential election on 3 November.

The Democratic candidate told the debate in Nashville, Tennessee: “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.

“He says we’re, you know, learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”

Mr Trump responded by saying: “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” adding that “we can’t close up our nation or we won’t have one”.

The pair also clashed in the second section of the debate, on national security. They were both asked about the news that Iran and Russia had obtained US voter registration information in an attempt to interfere in the election.

Debate highlights- 

  • Trump said the only undocumented immigrants who appear for their court dates are those with the “lowest IQ.”
  • Biden: Trump is ‘one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history’. “I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump insisted.
  • Biden criticizes Trump after he bemoans ‘bailouts’ for Democratic states
  • Trump on Obamacare: ‘What we’d like to do is terminate it’
  • Biden called on Trump to release his tax returns, noting the president has been promising to release them since his 2016 campaign.
  • Trump criticized Biden’s proposals on the coronavirus response, saying, “All he talks about is shutdowns. No, we’re not going to shut down.”
  • Trump said of the coronavirus pandemic, “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault.”
  • Trump said Biden criticized his decision to shut down access to China due to the coronavirus pandemic as “xenophobic”.
  • Biden attacks Trump over coronavirus: ‘He has no clear plan’
  • Trump, who has avoided using the phrase “institutional racism,” responded by once again arguing that he has done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
  • “Bidencare”: Biden lays out his health care plan as Obamacare is under attack
  • Biden and Trump discuss how 545 children separated from their families should be reunited
  • Trump says he has a “very good relationship” with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un 
  • Biden pivots to economy impacts on American families and Trump hits him for being “typical politician”

Mr Biden said such countries “will pay a price if I’m elected” and claimed that Moscow did not want him elected because “I know them and they know me”.

Mr Trump alleged that Mr Biden received $3.5m (£2.7m) from Russia and insisted that “there’s been nobody tougher than me on Russia”.He added: “You were getting a lot of money from Russia… you probably still are.”

Mr Biden responded: “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life.” He called on Mr Trump to release his tax returns or “stop talking about corruption”, with the Republican candidate claiming he was told he had “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” and that $750 (£574) in taxes he was claimed to have paid in 2017 was a “filing fee”.

Mr Trump raised the issue of Mr Biden’s son Hunter and claims he drew a large salary from a Ukrainian firm.

Mr Biden responded that the accusation had been investigated repeatedly and did not link him to any wrongdoing. He also pointed out that impeachment proceedings were started over the president’s attempt to pressure the president of Ukraine to find potentially damaging information on the Biden family.

What was the overall tone?

Thursday night’s primetime duel in Nashville, Tennessee, was a less acrimonious and more substantive affair than the pair’s previous showdown on 29 September, which devolved into insults and name-calling.

Following that political brawl, debate organisers this time muted microphones during the candidates’ opening statements on each topic to minimise disruption.

But the 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was the scene of plenty of personal attacks between the opponents, whose mutual dislike was palpable.In individual closing argument to voters, they offered starkly different visions for the nation on everything from shutting down the country to tackle coronavirus, to shutting down the fossil fuel industry to confront climate change.

Coronavirus ‘going away’

Nowhere was the distinction between the two candidates more apparent than in their approach to the pandemic.

Asked about his support for more lockdowns if the scientists recommended it, Mr Biden, a Democrat, did not rule it out.

But Mr Trump, a Republican, said it was wrong to inflict further damage on the economy because of an infection from which most people recover.

“This is a massive country with a massive economy,” said the president. “People are losing their jobs, they’re committing suicide. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before.”

Mr Trump, 74, declared that the virus was “going away” and that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year, while Mr Biden warned the nation was heading towards “a dark winter”.

The president said: “We’re learning to live with it.” Mr Biden, 77, countered: “Come on. We’re dying with it.”

Mr Biden laid blame for the 220,000-plus American deaths as a consequence of the pandemic at Mr Trump’s door.

“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America,” he said.

‘This guy is a dog whistle’

During a back-and-forth on race relations, Mr Trump said: “I am the least racist person in this room.”

He brought up the 1994 crime bill that Mr Biden helped draft and which Black Lives Matter blames for the mass incarceration of African Americans.

But Mr Biden said Mr Trump was “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire”.

He added: “This guy is a [racial] dog whistle about as big as a fog horn.”

Bank accounts ‘all over the place’

Mr Trump brought up purported leaked emails from Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, about his business dealings in China.

But Mr Biden denied the president’s unfounded insinuation that the former US vice-president somehow had a stake in the ventures.

“I think you owe an explanation to the American people,” said Mr Trump.

Mr Biden said: “I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever. Ever.”

The former vice-president referred to the New York Times recently reporting that Mr Trump had a bank account in China and paid $188,561 in taxes from 2013-15 to the country, compared with $750 in US federal taxes that the newspaper said he had paid in 2016-17 when he became president.

“I have many bank accounts and they’re all listed and they’re all over the place,” said Mr Trump. “I mean, I was a businessman doing business.”

‘Trouble ahead’ on climate

Mr Biden described climate change as an “existential threat to humanity” and attacked Mr Trump for cutting curbs on polluters.

“Four more years of this man eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate… will put us in the position where we’re going to be in real trouble,” he said.

Mr Trump defended his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, saying he would not “sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies” for the agreement.

The two clashed on energy policy, as Mr Trump asked his challenger: “Would you close down the oil industry?”

“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” said Mr Biden, adding, “because the oil industry pollutes significantly.”

He said Big Oil – a reference to big oil companies – had to be replaced by renewable energy over time with the US moving towards net zero emissions.

“Basically what he’s saying is he’s going to destroy the oil industry,” said Mr Trump. “Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio?”

The Biden campaign afterwards said their candidate had been talking about ending oil subsidies.

‘Who built the cages, Joe?’

The two again argued when Mr Trump was asked about his policy of separating hundreds of children from undocumented immigrant adults at the southern US border.

The president pointed out that migrant children were also detained under the Obama administration.

Who built the cages, Joe?” he said, referring to the chain-link enclosures where unaccompanied migrant children were held during the Obama-Biden administration.

But the former vice-president said the Trump administration had gone further by separating families and the practice was “criminal”.

Any other stand-out moments?

Not surprisingly, both candidates accused the other of unfulfilled promises while in office.

Mr Biden took his opponent to task for his pledges to come up with a healthcare plan to replace Mr Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Mr Trump had been talking about making such a move for years but “he’s never come up with a plan”, the Democrat said.

The president, meanwhile, talked about what he said was Mr Biden’s own inactivity while in office.

“You keep talking about all these things you’re going to do… but you were there just a short time ago and you guys did nothing,” he said.

“Joe, I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job.”

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