Maybe President Trump listened to Kellyanne Conway’s advice intended for his last debate, or perhaps it was the muted microphones. Regardless, everyone can agree that the final Presidential debate before Americans go to the polls on November the 3rd was a world away from the firestorm of the last one.

This article will not delve into every question and every response, but will instead look at a few key moments for both candidates as well as the debate as an overall.

President Trump:

“We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready, it’s going to be announced within weeks.”

The President caused surprise with a comment on the ever-present question regarding a Covid-19 vaccine, stating it would be announced within weeks. He continued stating that the military would deliver this before trying to back track the timeline when further questioned.

He also claimed the country was “rounding the turn” in regard to Covid-19, something that can be disproven just by looking at America’s statistics reported by both internal American sources and external international. New York Times’ statistics showed between the 24th of July and 13th of September America was on a downwards slant in number of new reported cases by day in the United States. However, from the 14th of September the country has been on an upward slant with more people contracting the virus.

Graphs from The New York Times

Trump dodged an attack from Biden in regard to addressing 2020 Russian interference with Putin by claiming they (Russia) want him to lose and deflecting into his reoccurring false statement that no one has been tougher on Russia than him. Regardless of legitimacy of the deflection, he managed to dodge the attack and was not pressed further on it.

(Former) Vice President Biden:

“He has caused the deficit with China to go up, not down.”

This comment from Biden was deemed false from the New York Times Fact checking team, as false due the lack of consistency depending on how it is calculated. Therefore making this statement was incorrect

Biden’s attempts to add humour into his answers may have also fallen short. His joke that “We (America) were also friends with Adolf Hitler before he invaded Europe” did not quite hit the way he may have hoped.

Biden’s strongest moments however came in the form of thoughtful one-liners directly responding to statements from Trump. In response to Trump’s comment that the country is “learning to live with the virus” he rebutted “people are learning to die with it”. Biden was also sure to address the American public at home by looking straight down the camera, a technique he praised for after the first debate.

Other observations:

There appeared to be a significant amount of misleading or exaggerated statements during this debate. Analysis of various fact checking resources found between 28-41% of statements being made by the President could be considered misleading or exaggerated. Biden was not exempt from making misleading or exaggerated statements either, however this was at a much lower level.

Instead of picking fights with Biden through his interruption strategy of the last debate, President Trump instead focused on interrupting the moderator NBC reporter Kristen Welker and ensuring he was provided his opportunity to respond to comments from Former Vice-President Biden. It is unclear whether this was intentional or not, however this may have been a more subtle strategy to show the bull-like side of the President’s personality many of his voters admire about him without the same (largely-critical) response from the first debate.

Overall, the debate was rather tame and immediate post-debate predictions are anticipating no significant polling changes, particularly regarding undecided voters. President Trump allowed Biden to speak uninterrupted more than most people expected, however there was no ‘Biden gaffes’ that Trump may have been waiting patiently for in order to prove himself the better candidate. The calmer atmosphere allowed a relatively functioning and productive debate for both men on stage, neither candidate particularly stole the stage but neither candidate made any critical blunders either

Key sources:

CNN Final 2020 Presidential Debate

NBC News Live Blog

NPR Debate Commission To Mute Candidates’ Mics At Start Of Each Segment

NPR Live Updates and Fact checks

The New York Times Fact-Checking the Final Presidential Debate

The New York Times Covid in the U.S Latest Map and Case Count

The Hill Trump, Biden clash over coronavirus response, mounting death toll

Washington Post Fact Checking

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

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