Trump and Biden square off in final debate — How it went | News | DW | 23.10.2020

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Trump and Biden square off in final debate — How it went

After chaotic scenes from the first face-off between US President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, the two are facing each other for the final election debate. Follow the latest with DW's live coverage and updates.

Some of the main takeaways

  • Biden accuses Trump of being "the most racist president we have ever had in modern history"
  • Trump says he's the least racist person in the room and that Biden failed Black Americans
  • Trump accuses Biden of trying to "destroy the oil industry"
  • Biden accuses Trump of doing nothing to halt the coronavirus
  • Trump says Biden wants socialized medicine
  • Biden says Trump "hasn't done a thing for anyone on healthcare"

All times in UTC/GMT

02:38 The debate has concluded, thank you for following us. 

02:36  "I am the American president and I represent all of you, and I will give you enormous opportunities to make things better," Biden says.

I will bring "decency, honor and respect and that's something you haven't had for the past four years."

02:35  "We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China," Trump says, adding we had the best black and Hispanic unemployment numbers in the history of our country.

"Success is going to bring us together, we are on the road to success."

02:34 The last line of questioning for the candidates is on leadership, and what would you say to Americans who did not vote for them.

02:32 Biden said he would transition away from the oil industry to promote renewable energy. Trump accuses him of trying to "destroy the oil industry." 

Biden says we have to move toward "net zero emissions"  and would rejoin the Paris Accord.

02:29 Biden says Trump thinks "windmills cause cancer."

Trump says windmills "kill all the birds" and that producing them causes pollution. He adds: "I love solar but it's not powerful enough yet to really run all our big, beautiful factories."

02:26 "We have the best, lowest number in carbon emissions," says Trump. "Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at India. It's filthy. The air is filthy." Trump says he will not sacrifice US jobs for the sake of the Paris accord which he says detrimentally affects the US. "We have done an incredible job environmentally."

Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and we have a moral obligation to deal with it," Biden says.

"Four more years of this man … eliminating regulations … will put us in a position where we have real trouble," Biden says of Trump and his policies. 

02:22 The line of questioning moves on to climate and the environment.

02:18 Trump is asked about disparaging comments about the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

"They can say anything. It makes me sad. I am the least racist person in this room."

Biden responds saying, "Abraham Lincoln here is the most racist president we have ever had in modern history," who takes advantage of racism politically with a "dog whistle as big as a foghorn."

02:16 The conversation drifts to accusations of Hunter Biden's "laptop" and the moderator urges him to return to the theme of theme of race.

02:15 Trump says Obama and Biden did a poor job. "I ran because of you."

Trump points and talks

"I am the least racist person in this room," said Trump

02:14  Trump accuses Biden of harming the black community in 1994 with a crime bill, when Biden was a senator.  

"Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump with the exception of Abraham Lincoln," Trump says.

02:13 Biden says he understands why Black parents fear for their children. The fact of the matter is there is institutional racism in America." He says the needle has been moving in favor of more inclusion in recent history, until now. "This is the first president that's come along and said 'That's the end of that.'"

02:08 The next line of questioning is on race relations and police

02:07 Trump says Biden has no understanding of the laws," says Trump, referring to the catch and release program. "When you say they come back, they don't come back Joe."

02:06 Trump repeatedly demands: "Who built the cages?" of Biden, referring pictures that were published of facilities used to house children at the Mexican border. Biden says it is the Trump administration that separated children from their parents.

02:01 Trump says "cartels are bringing in bad people" and the US should let "people in but they have to come in legally."

Read moreParents of 545 migrant children separated by US border policy cannot be found

Biden said separating children from parents at the border "violated every notion of who we are as a nation." Trump says they are trying "very hard" to reunite immigrant children with their parents.

02:00 The next line of questioning is on immigration. 

01:59 Trump accuses Biden of using the relief act to try to bail out Democrat cities and provide support for immigrants, Biden accuses Republicans of not moving forward on passing stimulus.

01:58 The moderator asks about the stalled US coronavirus economic relief bill.

01:57 Biden says that it the last three years, billionaires made 700 billion more dollars. "What happens to the ordinary people out there?"

01:55 Biden says it would take $750 billion over 10 years to finance "Bidencare," but there would be a reduction on premiums. "He hasn't done a thing for anyone on healthcare," he says of Trump. "Not a thing."

Joe Biden holds up his fists

Biden says Trump's plan will leave millions of Americans without health care

01:53  "Everyone should have the right to affordable healthcare," Biden says of his plan. "This is something that's going to save people's lives."

"We have to provide health insurance for people at an affordable rate and that's what I'd do."

Trump says Biden wants socialized medicine, and says his running mate Kamala Harris "is more liberal than Bernie Sanders" and wants socialized medicine.

01:51 Biden denies that he people would lose their insurance under his plan unless they chose to switch to other plans. He says Trump has no plan for how a public plan could cover pre-existing conditions.

01:50  Trump says the new system of healthcare is not Obamacare but an improved version of it. He says he would like to come up with a "beautiful healthcare."

He accuses Biden of planning to terminate private policies. "We have done an incredible job on healthcare and we're going to do even better."

01:48 The next line of questioning is about American families and health care.

01:46 Trump suggests he prevented nuclear war with North Korea that would have killed millions of people. Biden accuses Trump of "legitimizing" North Korea. 

Biden says that Trump claiming to have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un is like saying the US had a good relationship with Hitler before World War II.

01:45 The moderator asks about reigning in North Korea.

01:42 Trump accused Biden of "walking away with a billion and a half dollars from China." Biden responds, saying the accusations are "malarkey" because Trump wants to distract from "substantive" issues. 

Read moreNorth Korea’s charm offensive

01:41 Biden accuses Trump of allowing China not to follow international rules, and accuses him of allowing the deficit with China to go "up not down." He says the US needs the support of his allies to put pressure on China.

01:39 The moderator asks about US relations with China. 

01:37 Biden denies any impropriety in Ukraine. "The guy who got in trouble in Ukraine was this guy, says Biden, saying Trump had tried to bribe authorities there to supply negative information about him.

01:35 The moderator asks Biden about accusations of shady business deals in Ukraine.

01:34 Trump brings up the Muller investigation, calling it a "witchhunt" and "no president should have been treated like that."

01:31 "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life," Biden says in response, adding that Trump has not released a "single year" of his tax returns.

"Foreign countries are paying you a lot, release your tax returns or stop talking about corruption," Biden says. "Just show us, stop playing around." 

01:30 Trump says no one has been tougher on Russia than him and accused Biden of taking "millions" of dollars from Russia. 

01:27 Biden accuses Trump of not taking on Putin, repeating an accusation that the Kremlin leader has been financing the killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan.

He says Trump's "buddy Giuliani is a Russian pawn."

01:26 The next line of questioning is about US national security in light of accusations that Russia and Iran are interfering in the election. 

Read moreUS intelligence: Russia and Iran actively interfering in election

01:25 Biden accuses Trump of downplaying the virus at the outset, but failed to because the president failed because he didn't want to cause "panic."

"Americans don’t panic — he panicked," Biden said.

01:23 Biden says the spikes are occurring in red (Republican) states. "We have the best testing in the world that's why we have so many cases," Trump says. 

01:21 Trump accuses Biden of advocating mass shutdowns. Biden counters saying he doesn't want shutdowns, but sensible measures to combat the virus.

"We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time," says Biden. Businesses need social distancing, restaurants need dividers, he says.

01:19 Trump says the "US can't close up our nation or we won't have a nation," adding the "cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. 

Biden responded: "You say people are learning to live with it, people are learning to die with it."

01:18 Biden accuses Trump of doing nothing, and of falsely saying that the pandemic would be over soon. Trump counters denying that he never said this and accusing Biden of hiding in the cellar.

01:10 Trump says "we closed up the greatest economy in the world to fight this disease, which came from China," adding that mortality rates in the US were "down" and that a vaccine "will be delivered in weeks" and that the US is "rounding the turn." 

Trump also mentions his own recovery from COVID-19, saying he was now "immune."

01:07 The first question is for Trump and Biden is about the fight against coronavirus.

01:05 Trump and Biden have taken the stage.

00:53 Biden sent this tweet ahead of his arrival at Belmont University, saying he was "ready" for the debate.  

00:38 US President Donald Trump's motorcade has arrived at Belmont University in Nashville for the presidential debate.


Why is this debate important?

With the November 3 election drawing near, Republican President Donald Trump and the Democratic challenger Joe Biden are taking to the stage for their second and final televised debate. Originally, the candidates agreed on a total of three debates, but the second one was canceled after Trump was infected with the coronavirus and later refused to attend a virtual matchup.

Tonight's face-off in Tennessee is a chance for Trump to fix his flailing poll numbers, as the current president is trailing Biden by around 10 points nationwide. 

However, Trump still has a chance of ensuring enough votes in the Electoral College as Biden's lead is much narrower in several key states.

It will be important for Biden to avoid committing any major gaffes in order to maintain his lead in the polls.

How to watch the debate?

The debate is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (01:00 GMT/UTC, 03:00 CET, 04:00 EEST)  and to last for 90 minutes. It will be broadcast by DW on television as well as online.

On TV — Watch the DW News channel on your TV

Online — Go to the DW online livestream

YouTube — Check out the DW YouTube livestream.

In this article — A livestream will be visible at the top of this article once the debate kicks off

You can also follow blow-by-blow updates in our live ticker. 

What has changed since their first clash?

The first debate, held last month in Cleveland, devolved into chaos with the two men talking over each other and Trump repeatedly interrupting his rival. At one point, Biden responded with "Will you shut up, man?" and called the US president a "clown."

Instead of a second debate, Trump and Biden held rival town hall events that were broadcast at the same time on TV.

Following the Cleveland event, organizers introduced new rules for the Thursday face-off in Tennessee

This time, each candidate would be able to give a two minute opening answer on each of the six topics while his rival's microphone would be muted. Both mikes will be open for the rest of the debate.

What will they talk about?

The candidates are set to discuss six topics: the fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, American families, climate change, national security, race in America, and leadership. All of these have been selected by the debate moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News.

Read more: What are the top five issues in the US presidential election?

Biden has repeatedly accused Trump of failure in the fight against COVID-19. Trump has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus, but recently caught it himself and needed to be hospitalized.

The issue of racial tensions in the US is likely to be another sore spot, after Trump refused to outright condemn a far-right group and called on them to "stand back and stand by" during the first debate.

At the same time, Trump is likely to draw attention to the controversial business dealings of Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, in Ukraine. Biden previously dismissed the affair as a "smear campaign."

What happens after the debate?

The Trump campaign hopes for a late boost before the election on November 3. If the US president fails to overtake Biden, he is expected to remain in office until January, when Biden would be sworn in as the next president.

While Trump said he would "accept" a peaceful transfer of power, he also hinted that he might not step down if he believes the election is unfair.

"I am 100% on board, but if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that," he said during the first debate in Cleveland.