Presidential Debate Live Updates: Trump and Biden Face Off For Final Time Before Election

Live Updates
Trump Biden Debate
This combination of pictures shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty; Saul LobeB/AFP/Getty

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are set to face off in Nashville on Thursday evening for the final presidential debate before the 2020 election.

NBC News journalist Kristen Welker will be moderating the debate. The topics to be addressed include American families, race in America, climate change, national security, COVID-19, and leadership.

Here at Newsweek, we're watching with several Newsweek columnists and guests: Gordon Chang (@GordonGChang), Frank Donatelli (@FrankDonatelli), Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage), Caroline Glick (@CarolineGlick), Doug Gordon (@dgordon52), Charlie Kirk, Tom Rogers, Ben Weingarten (@bhweingarten), and Christine Todd Whitman (@GovCTW). They will comment in real time as the debate unfolds. The views expressed in this article are their own.

A few final thoughts from our commentators:

Frank Donatelli: Compared with the first debate, this was better—a low bar to be sure. The dead mics seemed to work well and at least limited candidates interrupting each other. That said, the fact checkers will still have a field day. Trump did at least carry a narrative on the 1994 crime bill and accusing Biden of inaction during his time in the Senate and as vice president. His attacks on Biden's ethics and policy matters were scattershot. On the big issues that seem to animate voters—COVID, health care, the economy and civil unrest—Biden did well enough so the campaign narrative didn't change much. He emphasized in his closing that he would be president of all Americans, something that resonates with voters across the board.

Ben Weingarten: This debate presented a contrast between two visions for America. There were some major revelations primarily on the Biden side: Namely a desire for mass amnesty and the destruction of the oil industry under the guise of "transition." Whether this will energize bases and move the small percentage of undecideds out there is open to debate, but it is clear that the American people have a distinct, maybe existential choice on election day.

Doug Gordon: I challenge anyone who watched the last 90 minutes to name one new voter Donald Trump picked up tonight. The lies, the antics and the bullying tone will play well with his base. But his base is not big enough to win. And he failed to expand his base tonight. Donald Trump and Republicans up and down the ticket came into this debate needing a game changer and a knock-out punch. Donald Trump failed to deliver. Again. But the loser tonight is not just Trump. It is Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina, Maine, Arizona, Colorado and Iowa who needed Trump to deliver a life raft to not only his campaign but theirs. Instead, he doubled down on the very things that have made him one of the most unpopular presidents in generations and has him down double digits heading into the final week of the campaign.

Gordon Chang: This was a better debate, but we needed to hear more about national security and China. Chinese leaders must be pleased that for the most part they escaped scrutiny. We Americans have foreign enemies relentlessly attacking us, and we needed to hear more about what the two candidates would do to protect us.

Tom Rogers: Trump could not answer what he would say to Americans who did not vote for him. Instead, he just brought it back to a criticism of Biden. Biden took the question and came up with themes relevant to all Americans. The difference between a guy who came off negative and nasty and someone who is trying to provide a more optimistic and uplifting view of what we could be. Biden did what he needed to do—created no news—though he could have worded the oil industry transition better. But the debate will be forgotten and old news in 24 hours. Trump did not do what he needed to do. He had to make a bold move to change the trajectory of the campaign. He did not come close to doing that. In fact, he made no attempt to do that. Probably because he has no other gear than the one he always uses—old lines, lies and rebuttal that lost track of who he needed to sway. Biden needed this to be a non-event and it was. But Biden probably had his mentally sharpest debate and totally answered any doubts from Trump's charges that he is not mentally capable of leading.

Christine Todd Whitman: I think Biden showed the character that we need in a president. Fact checking will show how many outright lies the president told, which should be unacceptable in the leader of the free world, as should the continual dividing the country into red states versus blue states by the president. Trump had no answers to how his administration will reunite the 545 children who have been separated from their parents, why he continues to throw fuel on racist fires, why he affirms dictators and snubs our allies, and why he hasn't taken responsibility for his inability to address the coronavirus. This was Trump's best debate, but how sad that the bar is so low for our current president that him acting for the first half like a human being seems like a positive development? His shocking lack of humanity in responding to the lives lost due to the coronavirus or the children separated from their families should never be acceptable in an American president.

Gordon Chang: Trump said "success will bring us together." Yes, that is right.

Christine Todd Whitman: Biden spoke to all the people, Trump could not bring himself to do that.

What will you say to Americans who didn't vote for you on Inauguration Day?

Welker: Imagine this is your inauguration day. What will you say to Americans who did not vote for you?

Trump: We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China. Now we're rebuilding it and we're doing record numbers — 11 point 4 million jobs in a short period of time. Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success, but I'm cutting taxes, and he wants to raise everybody's taxes and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you've never seen. Your 401 K's will go to hell, and it'll be very sad day for this country.

Biden: I'm an American president. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me. and I'm going to make sure that you're represented. I'm going to give you hope. We're going to move, we're gonna choose science over fiction, we're going to choose hope over fear, we're going to choose to move forward because they have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better. We can grow this economy, we can deal with a systemic racism. At the same time, we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy, creating millions of new jobs. And that's the fact, that's what we're going to do, and I'm going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance, and I'm going to make sure you get that. You haven't been getting it the last four years.

Christine Todd Whitman: Making money does not make up for environmental justice issues that compromise health.

Caroline Glick: Trump is completely right about the deal he made with Russia, Saudi Arabia about oil production. They intended to destroy the U.S. oil industry to take short-term advantage of the oil price crash. And Trump's diplomacy saved the industry. He saved millions of jobs and kept the U.S. energy independent. It was one of Trump's many unsung diplomatic triumphs.

Gordon Chang: Biden seems determined to override the moderator. I wonder how that will play with voters.

Would you shut down the oil industry?

Welker: People of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. Your admin has rolled back regulations on these facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?

Trump: These families are employed heavily and they are making more money than they've ever made. If you look at the kind of numbers that we've produced for Hispanic or black for Asian. It's nine times greater the percentage gain than it was under in three years than it was under eight years of the two of them to put it nicely. Nine times more now.

Biden: Those people live on what they call fence lines he doesn't understand this. They live near chemical plants that in fact pollute chemical plants and oil plants and refineries that pollute. I used to live near that when I was growing up and Claymont, Delaware. The fact is, those frontline communities, it doesn't matter what you're paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do, you impose restrictions on the pollutants that are coming out of those fenceline communities.

Trump: Would you shut down the oil industry?

Biden: I would transition from it.

Trump: That's a big statement.

Biden: It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time. I'd stop giving the oil industry federal subsidies.

Gordon Chang: Did Biden tell the truth when he said he was never against fracking?

A showdown on fracking

Trump: We are energy independent for the first time. We don't need all of these countries that we had to fight war over because we needed their energy. We are energy independent. I know more about wind than you do. It's extremely expensive..kills all the birds. It's very intermittent. It's got a lot of problems. We're gonna have the greatest economy in the world, but if you want to kill the economy, get rid of your oil industry. And what about fracking?

Biden: I never said I oppose fracking. I never said that. He's flat lying. I do rule out banning fracking. We need other industries. What I will do with fracking over time is that I will make sure we capture the emissions over time.

Ben Weingarten: This debate is framing well for America the choice in 2020: Outsider versus career politician; disruption versus failed status quo; free enterprise versus government control; dynamism versus decay.

Christine Todd Whitman: The environmental progress we have made is due to regulations passed over the years and enforced by the EPA. The Trump administration has rolled back many of those protections, and we will start to see that we are going backwards. Climate change is a real issue and we are paying a heavy price in lives, jobs, homes and future health.

Charlie Kirk: Trump is on track to win this debate handily. The president is not allowing lies to go unchallenged and he's quickly pivoting and attacking Biden on his terrible record on anything from immigration, criminal justice and energy to national security. The president is staying on message and his attacks are keeping Biden back on his heels. Trump on the offense is the best version of Trump.

Gordon Chang: On Biden's climate change promises, why did he not do these things when he was vice prez?

Tom Rogers: Biden showed he is no socialist. Showed he has full mental capacity. Showed his temperament even with a more controlled trump than the first debate is far superior. Trump trying to say Biden was too tough on crime with drug laws—has no coherence to his arguments. He can proclaim being environmentally friendly—again won't sway a vote. Trump did not advance his campaign effort with anyone anywhere with this performance. Either Trump campaign feels they have another opportunity to change minds, or this was one of the least strategic uses of a national audience in a presidential campaign ever.

Climate change vs. the economy

Welker: How would you combat climate change and support job growth at the same time?

Trump: We have the best carbon emission numbers that we've had in 35 years under this administration. We are working so well with industry. Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India. It's filthy, the air is filthy, the Paris accord I took us out because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars, and we were treated very unfairly when they put us in there they did us a greatest service, they were going to take away our businesses, I will not sacrifice. Tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies, because of the Paris accord. It was so unfair. China doesn't kick in until 2030, Russia goes back to a low standard, and we kicked in right away. It would have been, it would have been it would have destroyed our business itself. We have done an incredible job, environmentally. If the cleanest air the cleanest water and the best carbon emission standards that we've seen in many, many years. And we haven't destroyed our industries.

Biden: Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it. And we're being told by all the leading scientists that we don't have much time. We're going to pass the point of no return with the next eight to 10 years. Four years of this man, eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate to clean up to limit, the limit of emissions will put us in a position where we're going to be in real trouble. Here's where we have a great opportunity. I was able to get both all the environmental organizations as well as labor, the people worried about jobs to support my climate plan, because what it does, it will create millions of new good paying jobs. I'll create $1 trillion more in economic growth than his proposal does.

Trump: Look at his plan. Look who developed it. AOC plus three. She knows nothing about the climate. They're all hopping through hoops for AOC plus three.

Welker asks about Biden's support for crime bills and asks him to speak to families who it impacted:

Biden: In the 80s, all 100 senators voted to pass a bill on drugs and how to deal with drugs. It was a mistake. I've been trying to change it since then, especially the part about cocaine. I've been arguing since then we shouldn't send anyone to jail based on a pure drug offense. They should be going into treatment. That's what I'm gonna do.

Trump: But why didn't he get it done? You were vice president, for eight years. Why didn't you get it done? You're all talk and no action

Biden: We got a lot of it done. We got 38,000 prisoners released.

Ben Weingarten: It will be fascinating to see if after this debate the contrast President Trump tried to create of outsider versus career politician, and nailing former Vice President Biden on the character argument, is effective.

Doug Gordon: The race relations section of the debate was brutal for Trump. His worst of the night.

Biden: Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've ever had in recent history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire. This guy has a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.

on Black Lives Matter:

on Black Lives Matter:

Trump: The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting pigs in a blanket, talking about police. Pigs in a blanket fry them like bacon. I said that's a horrible thing and they were marching down the street. And that was my first glimpse of black lives matter. I thought it was a terrible thing. As far as my relationships with all people, I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room.

Trump brings up the "laptop from hell," while Biden says its a Russian hoax.

Trump: The laptop is Russia? You have to be kidding. Here we go again with Russia.

Caroline Glick: Hunter Biden abandoned his laptop at the repair shop before his father announced his candidacy. The notion that Russia is involved in the laptop issue is completely ridiculous. It is a sign of the corruption of these foreign intel people that they would cavalierly throw this nonsense out.

Trump: But why didn't he do it four years ago? Why didn't you do that four years ago? Even less than that. You keep talking about all these things you're going to do and you're going to do this, but you were there just a short time ago, and you guys did nothing. I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job I would have never run, I would have never run. I ran because of you. I'm looking at you now you're a politician, I ran because of you.

Trump: "Only the reaaaaaaallllllly-- I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ. They might come back."

Frank Donatelli: Trump and Abraham Lincoln...perfect together.

Tom Rogers: Who prepped Trump for this debate and did not tell him to lose the line that he is the best president for Black America with the possible exception of Lincoln? Again, who does he think believes a line like that is credible? That isn't even a line that would help with his base. He showed up for this debate with nothing new to put out there—and the old stuff he has been using just is not working.

Welker: Do you understand why black and brown parents fear for their children?

Biden: I do. I never had to tell my daughter, if she's pulled over, make sure to put both hands on the wheel and never reach for the glove box because someone might shoot you. But a black parent, no matter how rich or how poor, has to teach their kid not to wear a hoodie when walking down the street. There is institutional racism in America. We've never lived up to it. All men and women are created equal. We've never ever lived up to it. We've moved the needle further and further toward inclusion. This is the first president to come along and say, forget it, we're not doing that anymore. We have to provide for economic opportunity: better education, better health care, better access to schooling better access to opportunity to borrow money to start businesses, all the things we can do and I've laid out a clear plan as to how to do those things, just to give people a shot. It's about accumulating the ability to have wealth as well as it is to be free from violence.

Trump: Yes I do. He's been in government for 47 years and he never did a thing. Except for in 1994, when he did incredible harm to the black community. Nobody has done more for the black community, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, than Donald Trump. Obama and Joe didn't do criminal justice reform. I don't even think they tried. They might have wanted to do it, but if you had to see the arms I had a twist to get that done, it was not a pretty picture, and everybody knows it.

VIDEO: Trump to moderator Kristen Welker: "So far, I respect very much the way you're handling this."

Christine Todd Whitman: There is Trump's us-and-them division again. Trump still doesn't seem to realize he's supposed to be president of the entire country. Biden is reminding us that a president should represent all of us.

Caroline Glick: The question that should be asked of Biden on immigration is if he has any policy for limiting illegal immigration to this country. Will he enforce the immigration laws on the books?

Tom Rogers: Trump is throwing everything up against the wall—from destroying Medicare and social security to the stock market crashing. He really does not understand: His base may buy the ridiculous hyperbole and totally unsupported claims, but the people he has to sway are not the base. How can he possibly think when behind by 8 points in Wisconsin that he is making a presentation that will close that gap? Same in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Totally unstrategic approach. Another half-hour of this, and Trump will have blown any use of this time to reignite his campaign.

Doug Gordon: Trump has no answer for the 500-plus kids who were orphaned by his administration. Trump hit some of his lowest approval numbers when this was in the news two summers ago.

Frank Donatelli: Finally some discussion about immigration, which was such a large issue in 2016. Trump seems to be accusing the Obama administration of being too tough on immigrants.

Ben Weingarten: Takeaways thus far tonight—Joe Biden is for:
-Socialized medicine
-Crippling wage regulations
-Rolling shutdowns
-Mass amnesty
-Court packing
-Covering up his family's influence-peddling and alleged kickbacks

On immigration and family separations

On immigration and family separations:

Trump: Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels. And they're brought here and they use them to get into a country, we now have as strong a border as we've ever had. Over 400 miles a brand new wall, you see the numbers and we let people in but they have to come in legally and they come in through with their families. They built cages. You know they used to say, I built the cages, and then they had a picture in a certain newspaper, and it was a picture of these horrible cages, and they said look at these cages, President Trump built them, and then it was determined they were built in 2014. That was him.

Biden: They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. Real tough. We're really strong. And guess what — they cannot — it's not coyotes didn't bring them over, their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents, and it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.

Trump: They did it, we reversed the policies. They built the cages. Who built the cages, Joe?

Biden: Children were ripped from their arms and separated.

Charlie Kirk: Biden constantly brings up the fact that he beat Bernie, Warren, and the rest of the far left wing of the Democratic Party in the primaries. It may make him feel good in the moment, but it risks alienating a large part of his base and further dampening his already tepid enthusiasm. For Biden to win, he needs to drive turnout of a broad coalition. Hints of a looming Democrat civil war if Trump wins.

Frank Donatelli: Biden scores again by opposing red/blue state categories.

Is now the right time to raise minimum wage?

Do you think this is the right time to raise the minimum wage?

Biden: I do. We're gonna have to bail them out too. We should be bailing those small businesses out now. You got one in six of them going under, they're not going to be able to make it back.

Trump: He says we are going to help the small businesses by raising the minimum wage? That's not helping. I think it should be a state option. Alabama is different than New York, New York is different from Vermont, every state is different. It should be a state as you said very happy to help. It's very important. We have to help our small business, how are you helping small businesses when you're forcing wages? What's going to happen and what's been proven to happen is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees.

Biden: These first responders we all clap for as they come down the street because they've allowed us to make it what's happening. They deserve a minimum wage of $15. Anything below that puts you below the poverty level, and there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business. That is simply not true.

Christine Todd Whitman: It's Mitch McConnell who has said not to do anything on a relief bill before the election.

Doug Gordon: The first hour of this debate was played entirely on Biden's turf: COVID, health care, lack of stimulus.

Welker: As of tonight, more than 12 million are out of work and 8 million more have fallen into poverty. Those hit hardest are women and people of color. Why haven't you been able to get them the help they need [a relief bill]?

Trump: Nancy Pelosi doesnt want to approve it--

Welker: But you're the president.

Trump: Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to approve it because she'd love to have some victories on November 3rd.

Welker: Why have you [Biden] not pushed the democrats to make a deal?

Biden: Well I have, and they have. This isn't new. This heroes act has been sitting there. and look what's happening.

Biden: He's a very confused guy. He thinks he's running against somebody else. Joe Biden, you're running against. I beat all those other people. The idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on social security and Medicare? Come on.

Trump: The stock market will boom if i'm elected. If he's elected, it'll crash.

Tom Rogers: Trading barbs on North Korea is not going to change a vote. Trump defending himself on getting rid of Obamacare will not change a vote. Saying "much better health care" with no proposal after four years will not win a vote. Trump thinks this is a tit-for-tat discussion—he has to change people's minds—nothing so far is going to sway anybody. I think they prepped Trump to not interrupt as much, and that seems to have been the sole strategy. Can't imagine what Trump thinks the first half of this debate does to move the dial for him.

Biden hits out at Trump's categorization of "socialized medicine."

Biden: Healthcare is not a privilege its a right. I am very proud of my plan.

Trump: He was here for 47 years — he didn't do it. He was there as Vice President for eight years and it's not like it was 25, years ago it was three and three quarters. It was just a little while ago right less than four years ago, he didn't do anything. He didn't do it. He wants socialized medicine, and it's not that he wants it, his vice president. I mean, she is more liberal than Bernie Sanders and wants it even more Bernie Sanders wants it, the democrats want, you're going to have socialized medicine

Biden: He keeps talking about it. He hasn't done a thing for anybody on healthcare. Not a thing.

Christine Todd Whitman: Where is Trump's "beautiful health care"? He has been promising it for four years.

Ben Weingarten: President Trump had an opportunity to eviscerate former vice president Biden on the appeasement and submission agenda of the Obama-Biden administration but opted instead to talk about relative success with North Korea, which was an interesting pivot. He made up for that arguable missed opportunity with his explanation of the disaster of Obamacare.

Charlie Kirk: Good for the president bringing up his position on protecting preexisting conditions. Many have lied about his position on this issue. The "Bidencare" line from the former vice president was cringeworthy. Somewhere former president Obama is rolling his eyes.

"Bidencare" and pre-existing conditions

Welker asks about the future of the Affordable Care Act and what would happen if millions lose their health insurance.

Trump: We terminated the individual mandate. Now its in court, because Obamacare is no good. I made a decision: Run it as well as you can. They ran it. Premiums are down. No matter how well you run it, it's no good. We'd like to terminate it. If we don't win, we'll have to run it, and we'll have Obamacare, but it'll be better run. Preexisting conditions will always stay. We'll always protect people with pre-existing. We'd like to come up with better healthcare, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
 We have 180 million people out there that have great private health care, far more than we're talking about with Obamacare. Joe Biden is going to terminate all of those policies. These are people that love their health care, people that have been successful middle income people been successful. They have 180 million plans, 180 million people families. Under what he wants to do which will basically be socialized medicine, he won't even have a choice. They want to terminate 180 million plans, we have done an incredible job but health care. And we're going to do even better.

Welker: What is your plan if the law is ruled unconstitutional?

Biden: What i'm gonna do is pass Obamcare with a public option: Bidencare. If you qualify for Medicaid, and you do not have the wherewithal --then your state to get Medicaid you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies. That's what's going to happen. Secondly, we're going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there's competition, that doesn't exist now by allowing the Medicare, to negotiate drug prices with the insurance companies. Thirdly, the idea that I want to eliminate private insurance. The reason why I had such a fight for with 20 candidates for a nomination was, I support private insurance. That's why I did not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare, they did not lose their insurance, unless they chose, they wanted to go to something else. Lastly, we're going to make sure we're in a situation that we actually protect pre existing there's no way he can protect pre existing conditions. None. Zero, you can't do it in the ether. He's been talking about this for a long time.

Gordon Chang: Prez Trump's North Korea policy has not worked out, but Biden had no real answer.

Christine Todd Whitman: Trump just mocked American families who are struggling because of the pain he caused by mismanaging the coronavirus.

Nigel Farage: Biden cannot answer family enrichment questions. Did they get Russian money?

Doug Gordon: The "new tone" Trump lasted less than 40 minutes.

Welker: President Trump you've met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times. You've talked about your beautiful letters with him, you've touted the fact that there hasn't been a war or a long range missile test, and yet North Korea recently rolled out its biggest ever intercontinental ballistic missile and continues to develop its nuclear arsenal. Do you see that as a betrayal of the relationship?

Trump: We have a very good relationship with North Korea, and there's no war. Instead of being in a war where millions and millions of people die, we don't have war, and I have a good relationship.

Welker: North Korea conducted four nuclear tests under the Obama administration. Why do you think you'd be able to rein in this persistent threat?

Biden: I made clear, as a spokesperson in China...North Korea is a problem. We're going to make sure we can control them and make sure they cannot hurt us. And so if you want to do something about it step up and help if not, it's going to continue. What has he done, he's legitimize North Korea. He's talking about his good buddy who's a thug, a thug, and he talks about how we're better off, and they are have much more capable missiles able to reach us territory, much more easily than ever did before.

VIDEO: Biden: The only guy who made money from China is this guy"

Gordon Chang: Biden says he would make "China play by the rules." How? He didn't do that during the Obama-Biden administration.

Frank Donatelli: Biden should have emphasized that the tariffs are paid by Americans, not China.

Charlie Kirk: Trump's exchange on Russia, China and the Ukraine where the Biden family allegedly received kickbacks for pay-for-play was handled deftly. Trump's attack lines clearly put him on the defense as Biden began stuttering and struggling to fully formulate a coherent defense.

Biden: There's a reason why he's bringing up all this malarkey. He doesn't want to talk about the substantive issues. This isn't about my family and his family. It's about your family.

Caroline Glick: Biden says he would make China play by the international rules? Is that a joke? He paved China's way into the WTO despite their currency manipulation and did nothing.

Tom Rogers: Biden is doing what he needs to do. Trump has not been able to get out one comment that even begins to provide a basis of swaying one vote. Same untruthful arguments. Throwing unsupported charges against the wall with no support will not change the trajectory. Trump trying to make unsubstantiated charges about Hunter will not change any votes. Trump came with no strategic plan for this debate. He is riffing like this is a press conference when it is his last chance to change the momentum for Biden in the campaign.

Making China pay

Regarding the candidates' China policy as president:

Biden: I'd make china play by international rules, unlike what he has done. He has made the Chinese deficit go up, not down.

Welker: What specifically are you going to do to make China pay?

Trump: China is paying. They're paying billions and billions. China paid $28 billion. They devalued their currency and they paid up. And you know who got the money? Our farmers. You never charged them anything.

Ben Weingarten: Joe Biden did not deny the contents of the emails, did not deny that he was "the big guy," did not address the fact that his family made money from our adversaries which at the minimum creates the appearance of corruption and opens Joe Biden up to compromise.

Doug Gordon: Here is the thing Trump fails to understand: Voters don't care about Joe Biden's family. They care about their own family. The bills they can't pay. The grandparents they can't see. Their kids who aren't in school. Joe Biden gets this.

Gordon Chang: Biden asked about the New York Post allegations. Denies Hunter took any money from China. Would love to hear more.

Frank Donatelli: Biden strongly defends his son and brings discussion back to impeachment. How much does the public care about this?

Caroline Glick: "I get treated worse than the Tea Party got treated," It's a very important point. The IRS scandal was one of the worst abuses of power of the Obama-Biden administration and a taste of things to come from a Biden presidency. The notable aspect of Trump presidency is his refusal to abuse his power or seize more power in the COVID-19 crisis.

Welker brings up the recent allegations about Hunter Biden, asking if anything that took place was "inappropriate" or "unethical."

Biden: Nothing was unethical. We had this whole question about whether or not because he was on the board...I later learned about a company that somehow I had done something wrong, yet every single solitary person...when he was going through his impeachment testifying under oath who worked for him, said I did my job impeccably. I carried out US policy, not one single solitary thing was out of line, not a single thing, number one. Number two, the guy who got in trouble in Ukraine was this guy trying to bribe the Ukrainian government to say something negative about me, which they would not do, and did not do because it never ever ever happened. My son has not made money....in terms of this thing about...what is he talking about... China. I have not made money from China is this guy is the only one, nobody else has made money from China.

Trump: His son didn't have a job for a long time. As soon as he became vice president, Burisma, I hear they paid him $183,000 a month, and he had no energy experience.

Biden: No basis for that. Everybody investigated that. Nobody said anything he did was wrong in Ukraine.

Biden: He's been saying this for four years. Show us. Just show us. Stop playing around. You've been saying for four years you're gonna release your taxes. What people do know is you're not paying your taxes or you're paying taxes that are so low. When last time he said what he paid, he said, 'I only pay that little because I'm smart. I know how to game the system.' Come on, come on, folks.

Trump: I get treated worse than the Tea Party got treated. I get treated very badly by the IRS, very unfairly. I have paid millions and millions. I paid in advance. It's called prepaying your taxes.

Biden: Release your tax returns or stop talking about corruption.

Caroline Glick: As U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday, Iran's strategy for keeping its nuclear weapons program is to pray five times a day that Trump loses.

Christine Todd Whitman: If Trump doesn't want to raise money, why do I get at least six texts a day from his campaign asking for dollars?

Gordon Chang: Trump is right when he said nobody was tougher on Russia than him, at least since Reagan.

Doug Gordon: If you don't watch Fox News all day, like Donald Trump, you have no idea what Donald Trump is talking about.

Frank Donatelli: Trump is struggling to identify Crimea, which the Russians occupied during the Obama administration. Biden strongly denies he has taken money from Russia. Biden hits Trump on refusal to release his taxes and his small income tax payment for the last few years.

Ben Weingarten: The contrast of optimism and opening versus doom-and-gloom and potential shutdowns ad infinitum is a solid narrative for President Trump. Now the president has a huge opening with respect to his maximum pressure campaign against Iran and confrontation of Russia in a number of dimensions—in contrast with the Obama-Biden administration that appeased both adversaries.

Russia, Iran and election interference

Welker moves on to topic two: national security. Asking about Russia and Iran interfering in the U.S. election:

Welker: What would you do to put an end to this threat?

Biden: Any country, no matter who it is, who interferes in US elections, will pay a price. Russia's been involved, China's been involved to some degree, and now we learn Iran has been involved. They will pay a price if I am elected. To the best of my knowledge the president has never said anything to Putin about it. I don't know why he has never said anything to Putin about it. My guess is he would probably be more outspoken with the Iranians. His buddy, Rudy Giuliani, is being used as a Russian pawn. He is being fed information that is not true.

Trump: Joe got 3 and a half million dollars from Russia. It came from Putin. Your family got 3 and a half million dollars. Someday you're gonna have to explain why. I never got any money from Russia. John Ratcliffe said, the one thing thats common to both [Russia and Iran], is that they both want you to lose. Nobody's been tougher than me on Russia. There has been nobody on Russia than Donald Trump.

Biden: I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.

Christine Todd Whitman: Biden's reminder that we are all Americans is an important one.

Frank Donatelli: We are all Americans, not red states and blue states. That scores well for Biden.

Caroline Glick: Operation Warp Speed provided more PPP funds faster to more places than anyone imagined possible. That was the job of the federal government and Trump got it done at warp speed. How governors used the equipment is not the president's responsibility.

Welker asks Trump about his recent comments about Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump says he gets along very well with Fauci.

Trump: Anthony said don't wear masks. He's allowed to make mistakes. He happens to be a good person.

Trump: We have the best testing in the world by far. That's why we have so many cases.

Biden: I don't look at this the way he does. Blue states and red states. We're the United States. If you look at where the virus is spiking, it's the red states.

Frank Donatelli: Either Trump is in more control of his emotions OR the mic policy is working.

Christine Todd Whitman: Some young people are not just magically recovering.

Charlie Kirk: The president is winning the coronavirus debate. The American people want to open the country back up and to get back to work. Trump remaining unapologetically on the side of opening America will win independents and undecideds.

Trump: I've said it often. The cure cannot be worse than the virus itself.

Tom Rogers: This is a perfect exchange on COVID from Biden's point of view. Trump saying nothing new. The majority of the country does not buy it. Trump can't win on COVID by saying he closed down the borders. Biden needs the whole debate to go like this. No drama. No news. No way off the back of this kind of exchange that Trump changes the trajectory of the campaign at all.

Doug Gordon: Trump has been losing the COVID argument with voters for seven months. He will continue to do so after his answers tonight.

Gordon Chang: Biden seems to forget his party was trying to remove Prez Trump from office during the period he said Trump should have done more on the disease.

Trump: I'm immune

Welker asks about the candidates differing strategies for handling the pandemic.

Biden: I'm gonna shut down the virus, not the country. It's his ineptitude that caused the country to have to shut down, in large part. Instead of being in a sand trap on his golf course, he should have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi.

Trump: All he does is talk about shut downs. But forget about him: his Democratic governors- they're shut down so tight. They're dying. And he supports all these people. No, we're not gonna shut down.

Frank Donatelli: COVID-19 is the number one issue of interest to Americans. Trump defended a record the public has found wanting. His timeline is very optimistic. Biden is painting a more pessimistic picture. Biden is scoring with early Trump rhetoric downplaying the virus.

Gordon Chang: Biden has some nerve saying Prez Trump was late in imposing travel restrictions on China arrivals. Biden called Trump "xenophobic" when on January 31 Trump imposed those restrictions.

Charlie Kirk: The president is already coming off much more composed, and measured. He is taking notes and following the talking points. He's scoring massive points.

Christine Todd Whitman: By the way, Trump blamed the Gold Star families for getting the virus.

Biden: He says we're learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it. Learning to live with it. Come on, we're dying with it.

Nigel Farage: A debate, not a street fight, so far. An improvement.

Caroline Glick: President Trump is rightly explaining that this isn't a disease that kills everyone. He is projecting optimism. Biden is trading in fear. I think that he comes off as a bully.

Video: Trump on his handling of COVID-19: "If you take a look at what we've done in terms of goggles, masks and gowns and everything else"

Trump: We're learning to live with it, we have no choice, we don't have the ability to lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.

Doug Gordon: Ten minutes in. Different tone from Trump tonight. Yet same lies. Same lack of plan. Still takes no responsibility for his actions.

Welker asks Biden how he would ensure Americans take a COVID vaccine when its available.

Biden: Make sure its totally transparent. We're about to go into a dark winter, and he has no clear plan.

Trump accuses Biden of being "months behind me" on his COVID timeline and says Biden's handling of H1N1 was a "total disaster," though it was a "far less lethal disease."

Welker asks if Trump is guaranteeing a vaccine will be available within weeks. He says is it is "not a guarantee." Trump says the vaccine will be easily distributable.

Christine Todd Whitman: Trump lies. His COVID numbers are simply untrue.

The first topic is the Fight Against Coronavirus. Welker asks how the candidates would lead the country through the next phase of COVID-19.

Trump: 2.2 million people were expected to die, we closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease that came from China. I've been congratulated by the leaders of many countries on what we've been able to do. It will go away. We're rounding the corner. It's going away.

Biden: If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. Anybody who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain the president of the United States of America. We're in a circumstance where the president so far still has no plan. I would make sure everyone is encouraged to wear a mask all the time. I would make sure we're investing in rapid testing. I would make sure we set up national standards for opening up schools and businesses and give them the financial wherewithal to be able to do that.

Trump and Biden take the stage for the debate.