The third and final Presidential Debate was held October 22, 2020 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The debate was the second to feature both presidents simultaneously, after the planned second debate was cancelled in favor of dueling town halls held at separate locations.
The debate featured a variety of topics, specifically COVID-19, climate change, race and an a section that saw both candidates accusing each other of various forms of corruption that mostly distracts from some of the more important issues being discussed for the night.
Throughout the debate, former Vice President Biden was on the offensive, seemingly pushing the pace of the debate and answering questions quickly and thoroughly. New formatting of the debate seemed to keep President Trump incapable of delivering his impromptu-style of political riffing that is a bedrock of his campaigning generally.
The middle third of the debate got more interesting. As moderator Kristen Welker of NBC allowed the candidates thirty second to one-minute windows to offer direct rebuttal to each other, opening up format to more direct debate, Trump seemed to find his footing and a little bit more confidence. Trump’s best rhetorical moments came from this portion of the debate, pressing Biden on Obama-era immigration policy and some of his history in congress, specifically his authoring of the 1994 Crime Bill.Biden did offer conciliatory remarks about his regrets regarding that bill, which may be a first for his campaign. Trump’s rhetorical attempts seemingly struggled to stick to Biden, who remained fairly composed and, crucially, never made a major verbal blunder or mistake that Trump could exploit.
Overall, the debate matches the general tone of the election itself with Election Day closing in. Though Trump was able to gain a little traction with language that his base responds well too, Biden seemingly controlled the tone of the night, with strong, coherent messaging and a move to govern “not red states and blue states, but the United States.” This matches the overall sentiment amongst pundits and pollsters that Biden is moving closer and closer to electoral victory.
On a closing note, moderator Kristen Welker managed the debate expertly and helped usher in a viewing experience that the American people actually had a chance to learn and benefit from. Any step towards a restoration of political sanity is a welcome one, and Welker provided that during the third and final debate.
Written by Robert Davison,Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of flickr.