The Final Presidential Debate sees a change in behavior between the candidates


The last presidential debate between incumbent President Donald J. Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden was held last night at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, aired at 6 p.m. PST and concluded at 7:30 p.m. 

The candidates took the stage one last time under some new, agreed upon restrictions and regulations. For the duration of the 2 minutes given for a candidate to answer a question, the other candidate’s mic was muted to discourage interruptions like the ones seen in the first debate. Smaller increments of time were given for rebuttals and responses. 

These regulations, as well as Welker’s commanding moderation, proved to improve the quality of the debate and responses given. Dana Hattar, a junior at Redlands East Valley, said “I think the new rules improved greatly, since we can’t trust the two grown men.”

Ashlynn Meyer, a senior at REV, agrees with Hattar: “I think the new rules totally improved the quality of the debate because there were not as many interruptions, and you really got to hear what each candidate had to say.”

Arthur Meyers, another senior at REV, thinks that other variables likely influenced the candidates’ behaviors on top of the regulations. “I also think that both candidates were likely prompted by their respective teams to go out of their way to be more civil and respectful this time around.”

The new regulations provided each candidate the opportunity to answer the questions to almost completion, without the threat of interruption. “The debate was less hectic and more respectful, like a presidential debate should be,”  said Daniel Waters, a senior at Redlands East Valley.

“I think both candidates did a good job,” said Ashlynn Meyer, “there were a lot of accusations towards each other, but they each did a good job explaining the situation for the most part. There were many things that I hadn’t heard of before and legal occurrences that I didn’t even know had happened, so I’d say I learned a good bit from this debate.”

The question of who won this debate is still up in the air. Kyle Dennert, a senior at REV, said “I think both candidates did try to avoid the question, which is expected, but when something was brought up against the opposing candidate, Trump did a better job defending himself and was able to explain himself better.”

Joey Sousa, another senior at REV, offered a differing opinion: “Biden,” he said, “even though Trump may have seemed dominant, he spouted the same generic talking points and deflected constantly. Biden wasn’t much better though. He also deflected a bit, but not nearly as much as Trump.”

This final debate served as not just a last ditch effort to sway undecided voters, but also as the start of a new era in the conduct of presidential and other political debates.

Topics discussed at the debate included reopening plans, systemic racism, affordable healthcare and the candidate’s independent, foreign interests. Some of those topics and each candidate’s corresponding viewpoints will be briefly reviewed in this article.

Topic: COVID-19 Relief

In the midst of shutdowns and closings, the candidates were asked about their safe reopening plans. “What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time,” responded Biden, “I would make sure we move in the direction of rapid testing and… set up national standards as to how to open up schools and… businesses, so they can be safe.” Trump said “We have no choice. We are not going to lock ourselves up in our basement. We have to open our schools, and we can’t close up our nation, or you are not going to have a nation.” The president also expressed his hopes that a vaccine will be ready “within a few weeks,” saying that he has been working with multiple companies, who he claims are very close to developing a vaccine to be distributed by the military.

Topic: Healthcare

Over 20 million people use the nickname “Obamacare” for their healthcare. Trump said “I would like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new, beautiful health care.” If the Supreme Court denies this request, however, Trump promised that he would work to reform the healthcare system. Biden said “What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option — becomes ‘Bidencare.’” Both candidates promised to protect those with pre-existing conditions. Trump criticized Biden, claiming that he wants socialized medicine like former candidate Bernie Sanders. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden,” Biden said. “I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

Topic: The Environment/Climate Change

The candidates had starkly different solutions for environmental waste and climate change. Biden shared his plan of building 50 thousand electric car charging stations across the country, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and investing in renewable energy. While Trump said he supports the use of renewable energy sources, he claimed that they, particularly solar energy, are too expensive and inefficient to rely on at the moment. He also claimed that pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords was better for the country’s economy and a statement to persuade other countries to work to reduce their own emissions and waste. He took credit for carbon emissions being the lowest it’s ever been.

Topic: Minimum Wage

Biden said he wants to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars on a national scale. Trump, on the other hand, advocated for the decision regarding minimum wage to be left to the states. “How are you helping small businesses when you’re forcing wages?” Trump asked, adding that raising the minimum wage would lead businesses to let go of more employees to meet that quota. He claimed that the decision should be left to the states because the economies of each state differ, citing New York vs Alabama specifically.

Election day is Nov. 3. Due to the time it takes to process mail-in ballots, official election results are expected to be revealed at a later date.

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