By Omkar Ratnaparkhi
The third and final Presidential Debate took place at 9 PM on the Belmont University campus in Nashville, TN, and was moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC. Vice President Joe Biden surprised many with a fairly energetic and adept discussion of policy issues. Many have questioned both Vice President Biden and President Trump’s cognitive abilities in the past few years, but Biden was able to hold his own and many polls indicated a Biden victory in the debate. A CNN Instant Poll indicated that 53% of voters watching thought Biden won the debate, and only 39% indicated a Trump debate victory. Although voters seemed to think Biden won the debate, favorable views of Biden only shifted from 55% to 56% and 42% to 41% for Trump. In other words, whether or not the debate had an effect on the American electorate is questionable. One of the reasons that this debate was vastly different from the first debate was because of rule changes after the train-wreck debate on September 29th, and the second debate was canceled after President Trump disagreed with using a virtual setting despite contracting the coronavirus. The most important rule change made by the Commission on Presidential Debates was that during initial two minute responses the candidate not speaking would have their microphone on mute. This was due to President Trump viciously interrupting and rambling to the point that Vice President Biden couldn’t respond in the first debate.
Combatting the Coronavirus
The first set of questions focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery from the pandemic. Vice President Biden attacked President Trump for having one of the highest deaths per capita of developed nations, and failing to adequately address the needs of working families in the pandemic. President Trump attempted to claim that if Biden was President over 2 million people would have died because Biden wouldn’t have shut down travel from China since he thought it was xenophobic. Biden countered with, “He is xenophobic, but not because he shut down access from China, and he did it late.” Trump also attempted to claim that his PPE response was perfect and that the economy should be reopened, and even went as far as claiming that Dr. Fauci is a Democrat even though he’s a non-partisan government official. Biden also went after Trump’s constant touting of the stock market recovery by explaining how Wall Street recovering without Main street isn’t something to be very proud of.
Promoting Conspiracy Theories and Making Outlandish Claims
A hallmark of the Trump Presidency that differentiates him from previous Presidents both Democratic and Republican, has been the promotion of conspiracy theories and outlandish claims. The outlandish claims included but were not limited to stating “I am the best President for the Black community, since maybe Abraham Lincoln”, and “I pre-paid my taxes tens of millions of dollars.” Despite having months of racial unrest in the streets after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the President adding fuel to the fire with tweets stating “. . . when the looting starts, the shooting starts!”, President Trump has the audacity to claim he’s the greatest President for Black America since Lincoln. A recent New York Times report showed that President Trump has paid little to no taxes in the past fifteen years, and the President has paid more in taxes to other nations than America (including China) in recent years. Many of the conspiracy theories promoted by the President revolved around Vice President Biden’s son Hunter’s board membership in the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
The latest of theory’s was about a laptop acquired by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and handed over to the FBI. According to Giuliani the laptop has hard evidence of corruption on the Biden family and even some speculations of images of sex-related crimes. The source of this information is very suspicious because many intelligence officials have stated that Giuliani might be compromised by Russian clandestine operatives, and it seems bizarre that if a laptop with incriminating evidence was found the first person you would give the laptop to is the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
After various ramblings and assaults on his family by Trump, Biden would simply stand there, smile, and laugh. Some of the statements made by President Trump were so outlandish or incoherent that there was no point in responding to them.
The Effect on the Election
The effect this debate had on the outcome of the election is unknown because of two reasons. The first reason is that early voting has already been going on for over a month in some states, and the second reason is that there simply aren’t many undecided voters. Oftentimes, various news outlets will have focus groups after debates with undecided voters, but after hearing some of the voters speak it seems like they are clearly leaning one way or the other and are not truly undecided.