By Nikhila Natarajan
Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, currently leading in national and battleground polls, waded into a final, high stakes presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, slamming US President Donald Trump as a man unfit to remain in the White House, holding him responsible for America’s catastrophic coronavirus death toll and warning Americans of a “dark winter” ahead if Trump remains in office.
Biden tore into Trump with the country’s virus caseload. Coronavirus has killed more than 222,000 Americans and sickened more than 8 million.
“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America. We’re in a situation where there are 1000 deaths a day. And there are over 70,000, new cases per day,” Biden said.
Biden landed plenty of punches into the first 15 minutes. “It’s his ineptitude that cost us lives. He should not have been in his sand trap in the golf course.”
Trump wants to be done with Covid-19 but Covid-19 isn’t done with America. That conversation has never gone well for Trump and that’s precisely where the final debate kicked off.
Trump, a recovered Covid patient, claimed the world’s leaders have been congratulating him for what he’s done with the virus response. True to form, Trump offered no specifics. He continued to say that schools must reopen, the economy must reopen and that Biden will simply hole up in his basement.
Trump is expected to attack Biden with dubious claims about Biden’s son Hunter’s alleged corruption and links to Ukraine. Biden aides have been pushing the former vice president to invoke the ‘American Family’ and ask Trump how that is going rather than take Trump’s bait.
Biden has a lot to go on offence about, if he wants to. Biden comes into the final televised debate in a strong position, ahead of Trump in battleground polls, awash in cash and a contrast to Trump in personal safety measures.
Biden has already made his case to America, Trump is looking for a late surge like the one which helped him win in 2016, and more than 46 million Americans have already voted. The stakes are high, the cracks are not as wide as they were at this point in the game in 2016.
Biden leads Trump in national polls by 9.9 points, according to FiveThirtyEight poll average and 7.9 points in the RealClearPolitics poll average.
Trump and Biden had their microphones cut off while the other delivered opening two-minute long remarks on the first debate topic. This will apply to all six segments. The mute button won’t feature in the open discussion portion of the debate. Each segment is 15 minutes long.
Trump is looking to reset the race, Biden is looking to ensure that there are no major gaffes. Incumbents have a pretty consistent history of doing badly in the first debate and coming back strong, but then again those were incumbents who listened to their aides. Trump has mostly been preparing by tweeting at the TV.
Next up, in 15 minute segments, the two will be facing off on the tanking economy, racial inequality, climate change, national security and leadership.
This second and final debate is being moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Welker is the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate since Carole Simpson in 1992.