The final presidential debate was a lot more moderate in tone and controlled than the previous one. Both candidates were mostly respectful towards each other and largely adhered to the debating rules. We actually got to hear them speaking without the other continually interrupting. However, will their views on the issues make any difference to voting intention at this late stage in the 2020 presidential election? Below, I have covered the issues discussed that would be of interest to an international audience that both candidates gave a substantial response to.
Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and revealed that a vaccine is “going to be announced within weeks” and that the “military is going to distribute the vaccine.” Trump was asked by the debate chair Kristen Welker if he could guarantee this and Trump clarified that he could not, but estimates that a vaccine should be available “by the end of the year.”
Welker asked Trump if his vaccine timeline was realistic, citing that Trump officials have said “it could take well into 2021 at the earliest for enough Americans to get vaccinated” and that “the country [US] will be wearing masks and distancing into 2022.” Trump insisted his timeline was “more accurate” and confirmed his military personnel are “ready to go” in terms of distribution whenever a vaccine is available.
Biden was critical of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, citing that over 220,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 and that there are over 70,000 new cases per day, with about one thousand deaths being reported daily currently. Biden confirmed if he were President, he would encourage the wearing of masks and was not as optimistic as Trump on the timeline of a vaccine being made widely available.
Trump disagreed with Biden’s pessimism, stating that the US will not have a “dark winter” as Biden believes the country will go into. Trump insisted he moved quickly in the beginning stages of the coronavirus pandemic by imposing restrictions on travel from China, to which Biden refuted that the imposition of the travel restrictions could have come quicker.
Trump asserted that the US needs to learn to live with the virus, stating that “the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself” in relation to the socioeconomic fallout of coronavirus restrictions, to which Biden responded that “people are learning to die with it” instead as he does not believe Trump is taking the virus seriously. Trump insisted that the US needs to open up, while Biden emphasised the US can only open up with safety measures in place if the reproduction rate of the virus is at a safe level, refusing to rule out any tightening of coronavirus restrictions.
Foreign Interference of the Election (Russia)
Trump claims “there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump” in relation to the increase in NATO’s defence spending he claims he secured “to guard against Russia.” Biden asserted “that any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price”, seeing foreign interference in the US presidential election as interference with American sovereignty, claiming that Trump has been weak on dealing with alleged election interference from Russia.
Trump asserts “nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump”, claiming he secured criminal justice reform. Biden believes “there is institutional racism in America”, and would like to see more socioeconomic opportunities for minority communities in the US, urging the US electorate to examine the character of both candidates closely in regards to who they think would do more for minority communities in the US.
Trump wants to see the US have the “cleanest crystal-clear water, the cleanest air” and defended pulling the US out of the Paris Accord, claiming the US was “going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly” in relation to the impact the Paris Accord would have on American businesses and jobs. Trump is sceptical on the benefits of the renewable-energy industry and would prefer to maintain existing US energy industries to protect existing jobs. Trump also claims Biden is opposed to fracking.
Biden sees climate change as “an existential threat to humanity” and that the US has “a moral obligation to deal with it.” Biden believes the US has an economic opportunity in being more environmentally responsible, particularly in investment to create new jobs in the markets of energy efficiency and electric cars. On fracking, Biden clarified that he would not ban fracking but instead he would invest into more efficient ways to reduce the emissions from fracking to help the US be more environmentally responsible
Michael Palmer holds a degree in Politics from Ulster University and is interested in political ideology, the politics of popular culture and wrote a dissertation on unionism/loyalism.