A more restrained final debate, but no shortage of salvos, barbs
US President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden clashed over Covid-19, immigration, race relations and climate change during their final debate, just ahead of the November 3 presidential election, presenting Americans with sharply divergent views of where they would lead them over the next four years.
The two leaders traded barbs during the debate that lasted just over 90 minutes, attacking each other’s positions on controlling the raging pandemic and curbing the country’s world-leading death toll of over 2,23,000.
The prime-time debate in Nashville, Tennessee, was a less acrimonious and more substantive affair than their previous showdown on September 29, which devolved into insults and name-calling. This prompted the debate organisers to put in place muted microphones during the candidates’ opening statements on each topic to minimise disruption.
The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, saw plenty of personal attacks between 74-year-old Trump, a Republican, and his 77-year-old Democratic rival, Biden, whose mutual dislike was quite evident.
Covid dominated the opening minutes of the Trump-Biden face-off with President Trump terming the contagion a “worldwide problem”.
“This has been a worldwide problem, but I’ve been congratulated by many countries on what we’ve been able to do,” he said. Trump once again blamed China for the virus. He said: “We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready,” Trump said. Biden challenged Trump, alleging that his policies have resulted in a large number of deaths in the country.
“We are about to go into a dark winter. He has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for a majority of the people before mid-2021,” he said.