Graphic by Anna Grace Askelson

Last Thursday, Oct. 24 from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in the final debate before election day. The debate was moderated by Kristen Welker, an NBC News White House correspondent, who set ground rules and also explained the new muted microphone rule.  

The final debate featured topics ranging from the pandemic, election security, the economy, race relations and climate change. Each candidate had two minutes uninterrupted to answer Welker’s questions and then the other would have time to respond.  

Welker’s first topic was the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Welker addressed the question first to President Trump and asked him how he plans to lead the country through the next stage of the pandemic. Trump said our country has been handling it well and mortality rates have been decreasing. He even specified that there should be a vaccine in weeks and the military will help distribute.  

Even though Trump stated the vaccine would be ready soon, distribution for the majority is not predicted until the second or third quarter of 2021. The vaccine itself will be done by early December, but widespread testing for most of the population will not be, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  

Welker asked Biden the same question. During his answer, Biden called Trump out on the lack of initiative he has taken on the virus even saying “…the President, thus far, still has no plan.”  Biden then said how he plans to provide resources for small businesses and the creation of a national standard for schools.  

After Biden stated that Trump had no plan, Trump defended himself saying how he closed down the country preventing countless infections. Trump even said that Biden’s plan is everything the Trump administration is currently already doing. 

From discussions involving the pandemic, Welker moved into a discussion on election security.  

Welker first asked Biden how he would handle the interference from other countries in our elections as well as handling this threat. Biden stated that any country that interfered in U.S. elections would pay a price. Furthermore, he said Trump has done nothing to prevent collusion.  

Welker gave Trump the same opportunity to respond to the question. In his response, he brought up Russian involvement but turned it around on Biden. Trump stated, “Joe got three and a half million dollars from Russia. And it came through Putin because he was friendly with the former mayor of Moscow…” 

Trump’s claim that Biden received $3.5 million from Russia is based on a report published last week by Senate Republicans. In the report, it explains that an unidentified document shows that Elena Baturina, a wealthy Russian businesswoman, transferred $3.5 million in 2014 to a bank account associated with a company where Hunter Biden’s business partners work.  

Biden’s lawyer stated that Joe Biden is not associated with this company nor did he have a financial relationship with Baturina. However, his lawyer has not commented on whether Biden consulted or was paid through the company or Baturina.  

On the topic of foreign relationships, Welker asked Biden if any of his son’s business relations with China and Ukraine had been unethical. Biden said that nothing was unethical and that neither Biden nor his son has made money from China. 

On the topic of foreign relations, Welker asked Biden if he would make China pay due to the damages of the pandemic.  

Biden responded by saying, “What I’d make China do is play by international rules, not like he has done.” Biden even said that Trump had caused the trade deficit with China to go up.  

Although Biden claimed that the trade deficit had gone up, this is not true. Between 2018 and 2019, Trump’s tariffs on China caused the deficit to fall sharply. Even this year, the trade deficit is running below last year’s levels. 

Welker discussed the topic of economy, first discussing the Affordable Care Act heading to the Supreme Court. Because of this, Welker asked what Trump will do if the Affordable Care Act is overturned and how he plans to cover those who get their insurance revoked. 

Trump said he would like to rewrite the Affordable Care Act and make a better healthcare plan. He also said that he always plans to protect those with preexisting health conditions. 

Even though Trump said he has always planned to protect those with preexisting conditions, his record would show that he does not. Trump has issued regulations that have expanded health plans that do not cover those with preexisting conditions. 

Welker asked Biden a similar question, asking how he plans to build onto Obamacare. Biden responded by saying he is going to pass Obamacare with a public option. He also said his administration plans to reduce premiums and reduce drug prices by ridding competition that tries to negotiate prices with insurance companies.   

With Biden’s plan to offer Medicare for all, many have questioned how Biden plans to pay for this. The official price for his plan is $750 million but his campaign has agreed that they will pay for it by putting taxes on those who make more than $400,000 a year.  

Biden’s plan to reduce drug prices by authorizing federal government to negotiate with manufactures is prohibited by law. 

Because of Biden’s plan to reduce prices on drugs, Welker asked what Biden thinks of Trump accusing him of socializing medicine.  Biden said, “…it’s ridiculous,” and that a public option doesn’t make it a socialist plan.  

Another topic Welker brought to the board is race in America. First, she asked Biden if he understands why people of color fear for their children. 

Biden responded by saying that he does understand and how there is institutional racism that has been created in America. He also stated that America has to provide better economic and educational opportunities accessible for all.  

Welker asked Trump the same question. Trump said he does understand and says, “Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump…with the exception of Abraham Lincoln…” 

Although Trump stated that Abraham Lincoln did a lot for the black community, historians would disagree. Many have agreed that the most significant achievement came from Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency when he passed the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.  

Welker moved the topic to climate change. The first question was, “For each of you, how would you both combat climate change and support job growth at the same time?” Trump was able to respond first.  

Trump responded by saying that America has the best carbon emission numbers in years without destroying our industries.  

 The U.S. actually experienced the biggest soar in emissions in 2018 since 2000.  

Biden responded by saying he plans to invest in the electric car market as well as creating millions of more jobs while keeping the environment clean. There are already three million jobs in the clean energy business and Biden plans to continuously expand these jobs. 

Later, on the topic of climate change, Biden and Trump argued about whether Biden has said he opposed fracking. Welker then asked if Biden rules out banning fracking. In Biden’s response, he stated that he did rule out banning fracking. 

Welker concluded the debate by thanking both candidates for participating, as well as Belmont University for hosting the final debate.