Trump v Biden: The key moments from their final debate

The final presidential debate of the US election campaign happened overnight, with Donald Trump and Joe Biden facing off.

And whether you missed it or want a recap, we’ve rounded up the defining moments and tried to gauge who came out on top.

Click or tap here for the full report – and here are six moments that stood out:

1. Mute debates civil again

If you missed the first debate between these two, count yourself lucky.

Calling it a “debate” feels generous – it was more of a shouting match.

In a bid to avoid a repeat, a mute button was introduced to Thursday night’s proceedings in Nashville, Tennessee.

This meant that each candidate was allowed two minutes uninterrupted at the start of each section to give their initial answer.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mic cuts and praise for debate moderator

And it did have an impact.

The tone was more civil, with fewer interruptions overall. It felt like more of a debate, although the bar was set low by the pair’s first encounter.

Praise should go to moderator Kristen Welker, who marshalled proceedings expertly.

“I respect very much the way you’re handling this,” Mr Trump said to the NBC News White House correspondent at one point.

2. A family affair

But while the tone in general was more civil, there were still some testy exchanges.

Things got heated when both candidates were asked about foreign interference in American elections.

Mr Trump used this as an opportunity to bring up recent media reports about Mr Biden’s son, Hunter.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Biden and Trump on Russia and the US election

The New York Post has reported that Biden used his position as vice president to benefit his son’s business interests in Ukraine, but the article’s veracity has been widely questioned.

Mr Biden refuted any allegations of impropriety, saying “not one single solitary thing was out of line” in terms of his conduct with regards to Ukraine.

This did not deter the president, who compared the Biden family to a vacuum cleaner because “they’re sucking up money”.

And he repeated unfounded allegations that Mr Biden has received funds from Russian sources.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Trump pressed on releasing tax returns

Again, the former vice president denied this, telling the debate: “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”

Mr Biden turned the attack round on Mr Trump calling on the president to “release your tax returns or stop talking about corruption”.

He asked: “What are you hiding?”

Mr Biden also used the segment to bring up some recent media reports – about Mr Trump having a bank account in China.

3. Trump compares himself to Lincoln

Another flashpoint was race relations.

Mr Biden called his opponent “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history” and someone who “pours fuel on every racist fire”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Trump, Biden…and Abraham Lincoln

The president proclaimed himself to be “the least racist person in this room” and boasted that only Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery, had done more for black Americans.

He defended the separation of immigrant children from their families after detentions along the US-Mexico border, after it was revealed that 545 children are still separated from their parents.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Biden and Trump clash over separated children

Mr Trump said it was the Obama administration that “built cages” to detain them.

This was disputed by Mr Biden, who said children were “ripped from” their families in 2018.

4. Coronavirus

Stark differences were on show when it came to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, given his administration’s handling of the virus has been under the spotlight, Mr Trump was more upbeat.

He said the US was “rounding the turn” and “rounding the corner”, with a vaccine “coming”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Biden clashes with Trump over COVID-19 shutdowns

The president spoke out against further shutdowns, criticising Democrat-controlled states for their COVID-19 restrictions.

“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself and that’s what’s happening,” Mr Trump said.

His assertion that the country needs to “learn to live with it” drew a swift rebuke from Mr Biden, who told him: “People are learning to die with it.”

The former vice president sought to portray himself as a unifying figure amid the pandemic, saying he does not see “red states and blue states” and “they’re all Americans”.

:: Subscribe to the All Out Politics podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

5. Biden’s bid for unity

Mr Biden’s pitch to voters throughout the campaign has been that he is a unifying figure who is in touch with folks on Main Street.

Mr Biden spoke during the debate about not seeing red states or blue states and frequently referenced the fact that he was born in Pennsylvania, a key swing state.

He thinks he can begin healing America after four years of rancour and division.

As Jim Carrey put it when he played the former vice president on Saturday Night Live: “We can all make America not actively on fire again.”

6. ‘I ran because of you’

The president wanted to portray his opponent as a Washington insider who has been roaming the corridors of power for decades.

And he consistently referenced Mr Biden’s eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, from 2009 to 2017.

“You were there and you did nothing,” Mr Trump told Mr Biden as they clashed over race relations.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘I ran because of you’ – Trump to Biden

“I ran because of you,” the president added.

Incumbent candidates can often struggle to shrug off the baggage of their time in office.

But Mr Trump wanted to remind people that as an outsider derided by the political establishment, he swept to victory four years ago with a pledge to “drain the swamp”.

“Success is going to bring us together, we are on the road to success,” he declared in his answer to the final question of the night on leadership.

The president put in a strong performance, at times appearing to have the upper hand, was the verdict of our US correspondent Cordelia Lynch.

“That may help to win over some in the wildly small group of undecided voters,” she said.

“But the polls would suggest he needed a knock-out blow and it didn’t quite feel like that.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *