The Second, and Final, Presidential Debate: The Highlights

Written by: Hailey Bergren

The second and final presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden took place on October 22nd at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. 

After the first presidential debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided that while a candidate is asked to respond to a question, the opposing candidate’s microphone would be muted for the first two minutes of their response in order to minimize interruptions. Kristen Welker, the moderator, began the debate by reminding the candidates of the importance of every American voter being able to hear what each candidate has to say, and politely asked them to not interrupt each other. 

Topics such as covid and racism were covered again, however each candidate was able to communicate their thoughts in a more clear and concise manner, giving voters a lot more information to deliberate. 

The debate began with the topic of COVID-19. Trump continued to promise the American people that there is a vaccine and we are weeks away from its release, similar to his response a few weeks ago during the first debate. Biden responded to the topic of COVID-19 by reminding voters of the 220,000 American lives lost. 

“If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this… Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not be the president of America,” Biden said. He followed up by ensuring Americans that he would have a comprehensive plan to fight COVID-19. Trump rebutted by telling Biden that we cannot close up the country, or we will not have a country. 

“I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country”

Joe Biden

With evidence of foreign adversaries interfering with the election being released just before, the topic of the debate turned to the subject of national security. Biden expressed strong opinions on this topic, making it very clear that if elected, he will do what he has to in order to protect American sovereignty. 

Trump argues that these interferences are in no way benefiting him, as he feels that no one has been tougher on Russia than he has, suggesting that the foreign interferences are part of Biden’s campaign. Trump accused Biden of accepting money from Russia. Biden responded by bringing up the topic of transparency, reminding voters that he has been the only candidate to release all of his tax returns. 

Trump promises that his taxes will be released, showing that he has paid millions and millions of dollars in taxes. With just days to go before the election, Trump has still not released his tax returns.

This led to the next concern, the US’s relationship with North Korea and Kim Jong Un. Trump claimed when Barack Obama was president, we were on the brink of war with North Korea. “I have a very good relationship with him [Kim Jong Un]. Different kind of a guy, but he probably thinks the same thing about me. We have a different kind of a relationship. We have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” Trump said, stating that he is responsible for the state of the US’s current relationship with North Korea. 

With Amy Coney Barrett nearing confirmation to the Supreme Court, and Trump’s administration fighting for the court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Welker then brought up the topic of healthcare. 

The Affordable Care Act currently provides 20 million Americans with health insurance. Trump plans to overturn Obama Care and the Affordable Care Act and replace it. We still do not have a clear plan on what that replacement health care plan would look like from Trump. Biden plans to build upon Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act by providing Americans with a public option. 

“Healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a right,”

Joe Biden

The recent news of 545 children having not been reunited with their parents since Trump’s no-tolerance policy was reversed brought up the topic of immigration. When asked if there is a plan to reunite these children with their parents, Trump explained that these children have been brought here by coyotes and cartels and accused Biden of building the cages that they’ve kept these children in. 

Trump mentioned that the children are well taken care of while they are working on a plan to reunite the children with their parents, however, no plan was mentioned. Biden argued that these 545 children have been brought in by parents, and were separated at the border, and emphasized that he plans to put DACA children on a path to citizenship.

This led to the matter of racism in America. Biden began by pointing out that there is a clear problem of systematic racism in America. “We have to provide [people of color] economic opportunity, better education, better healthcare, better access to schooling, opportunity to borrow money to start businesses” Biden stated. Trump followed by arguing:

“Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump… I am the least racist person in this room”

President Donald Trump

Welker then led the conversation to the issues within the incarceration system in America. Biden stated that his voting for passing the bill in the 1980s regarding drugs was a mistake, and suggested that “we should not be sending anyone to jail for a pure drug offense, they should be going into treatment.” Trump pointed out that Biden had eight years to make these changes and questioned why he did not get it done then, accusing him of being “all talk and no action.” 

The final topic of the night was climate change. Trump argued “We have done an incredible job, environmentally. We have 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 responded to this by discussing his  climate plan that has been supported by both environmental and labor organizations. This plan would invest in protecting the nation against climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs. 

The election is just around the corner. People have been lining up at the election booths and ballot drop boxes have been piling up at extraordinary rates. For Washington State, ballots must be dropped off in drop boxes before closing at 8 pm on Election Day, November 3rd. In-person registration has closed, but you can register to vote in-person through Nov. 3. For more information on the Election and voting, visit 

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