4 Key Trump Moments at the Final Debate

Viewers saw a notably different version of President Trump on Thursday from the one at the first debate. He didn’t interrupt Joe Biden as much, and he returned to some of his central messages.


Watch: Highlights From the Final 2020 Presidential Debate

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. had a more subdued debate, but split over issues such as the pandemic, race relations and immigration.

“If we just wore these masks, the president’s own advisers have told him, we could save 100,000 lives. And we’re in a circumstance where the president, thus far, still has no plan, no comprehensive plan.” “You also said a vaccine will be coming within weeks.” “Yes.” “Is that a guarantee? Is —” “No, it’s not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year. But I think it has a good chance — there are two companies — I think within a matter of weeks. And it will be distributed very quickly.” “This is the same fellow who told you this was going to end by Easter last time. This is the same fellow who told you that, don’t worry, we’re going to end this by the summer. We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter. And he has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.” “President Trump, your reaction. He says you have no plan.” “I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease.” “He says that we’re, you know, we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it. You folks home who have an empty chair at the kitchen table this morning. That man or wife going to bed tonight and reaching over to try to touch their — out of habit, where their wife or husband was — is gone. Learning to live with it? Come on. We’re dying with it.” “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault. And you know what? It’s not Joe’s fault that it came here either. It’s China’s fault. First of all, I’ve already done something that nobody thought was possible: Through the legislature, I terminated the individual mandate. That is the worst part of Obamacare. He’s talking about socialized medicine, and when he — and health care. When he talks about a public option, he’s talking about destroying your Medicare —” “Wrong.” “Totally destroyed. And destroying your Social Security. And this whole country will come down. You know, Bernie Sanders tried it in his state. He tried it in his state. His governor was a very liberal governor. They wanted to make it work —” “O.K, let’s hear, let’s let Vice President Biden respond —” “It’s impossible to work — it doesn’t work.” “He’s a very confused guy. He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them. Joe Biden he’s running against.” “Mr. President, your administration separated children from their parents at the border, at least 4,000 kids. You’ve since reversed your zero-tolerance policy, but the United States can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children. So how will these families ever be reunited?” “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels. And they’re brought here, and they used to use them to get into our country. We now have as strong a border as we’ve ever had. We’re over 400 miles of brand-new wall. You see the numbers. And we let people in, but they have to come in legally.” “These 500-plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. Big, real tough — we’re really strong. And guess what? They cannot — it’s not, coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents. And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation. A black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child, when you’re walking down the street, don’t have a hoodie on when you go across the street. Making sure that you, in fact, if you get pulled over, ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir,’ hands on top of the wheel. Because you are, in fact, the victim, whether you’re a person making, child of a $300,000-per-year person or someone who’s on food stamps.” “I got criminal justice reform done and prison reform and opportunity zones. I took care of Black colleges and universities. I don’t know what to say. They can say anything. I mean, they can say anything. It’s a very — it makes me sad because I am, I am the least racist person. I can’t even see the audience because it’s so dark, but I don’t care who’s in the audience: I’m the least racist person in this room.” “He pours fuel on every single racist fire, every single one. He started off his campaign coming down the escalator, saying he’s going to get rid of those Mexican ‘rapists.’ He’s banned Muslims because they’re Muslims. He has moved around and made everything worse across the board.” “I have one final question —” “Would he close down the oil industry? Would you close down the oil industry?” “By the way, I would transition from the oil industry, yes.” “Oh, that’s a big statement!” “I would transition — it is a big statement.” “That’s a big statement!” “Because I would stop —” “Why would you do that?” “Because the oil industry pollutes significantly.” “Oh, I see!” “Here’s the deal.” “That’s a big statement.” “But you can’t do that — well, if you let me finish the statement — because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time. And I’d stop giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies.” “Ooh!” “He won’t give federal subsidies to the gas, excuse me, to the, to solar and wind.” “Yeah.” “Why are we giving it to oil industry?” “Imagine this is your inauguration day. What will you say in your address to America, to Americans who did not vote for you?” “We have to make our country totally successful as it was prior to the plague coming in from China. Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success. But I’m cutting taxes, and he wants to raise everybody’s taxes. And he wants to put new regulations on everything.” “What is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven’t been getting it the last four years.”

By Adam Nagourney

For 90 minutes on Thursday night, viewers saw a notably different President Trump from the candidate who appeared at the first presidential debate. He was less hectoring. Unlike last time, he did not repeatedly interrupt his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., or the moderator. And he was disciplined — at least by the standards of the current president — returning to a few central messages as he sought to undercut Mr. Biden.

Mr. Trump had come under widespread criticism for his demeanor at the first debate. Polls suggested that it hurt him. To be clear, Mr. Trump was still aggressive, blustery and often slashing on Thursday. But his aides had urged him to dial it back; to a considerable extent, he did. In many ways, the relative discipline he exhibited was reminiscent of the way he handled his third debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump says once again that the U.S. is ‘rounding the corner’ on Covid-19.


Trump Praises His Response to the Coronavirus

President Trump lauded his administration’s distribution of medical and protective equipment during the pandemic and said the virus was “going away.”

I’ve been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we’ve been able to do. With the — if you take a look at what we’ve done in terms of goggles and masks and gowns and everything else, and in particular ventilators — we’re now making ventilators all over the world, thousands and thousands a month, distributing them all over the world. It will go away. And as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.

At a time when the coronavirus is surging across the nation, and health care officials are warning that case counts will rise in the months ahead, Mr. Trump was the face of optimism. “We are rounding the turn, we are rounding the corner,” he said.

The president said he was confident a vaccine would be developed by the end of the year, a prediction that is decidedly more optimistic than the one being offered by medical professionals. He suggested that his own experience after testing positive for the coronavirus showed that it was not as devastating as was widely thought.

“I got better very fast, or I would not be here tonight,” Mr. Trump said “They say I’m immune, whether it is four months or a lifetime, I’m immune. More people are getting better.”

If Mr. Trump does not win re-election, his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States will be one of the main factors. But the challenge for Mr. Trump is that his upbeat view at the debate runs counter to what many scientists are saying and what many Americans are experiencing.

Voters in large numbers disapprove of how he has handled the virus. They think Mr. Biden would do a better job in leading the country out of this crisis. They think it will get worse before it gets better, and, in one measure of how Mr. Trump is not in step with the country, they support the mandatory use of masks.

After four years as president, Trump still wants to be known as an outsider.


Trump Targets Biden’s Length in Public Office

After Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussed his plan for health care, President Trump retorted that Mr. Biden “didn’t do anything” in 47 years in government.

“We have to provide health insurance for people at an affordable rate, and that’s what I’d do.” “President Trump, your response?” “Excuse me. He was there for 47 years. He didn’t do it. [Biden laughs] “He was now there as vice president for eight years. And it’s not like it was 25 years ago. It was three and three-quarters — it was just a little while ago, right? Less than four years ago. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t do it.”

At times, a viewer would be forgiven for forgetting that Mr. Trump has been the president for four years. He reprised one of his most effective attacks that he used against Mrs. Clinton in 2016, portraying Mr. Biden as a stale veteran of government who had failed to get anything done.

At one point, Mr. Biden talked about building on the Affordable Care Act to guarantee health care at affordable rates. “He was there for 47 years,” Mr. Trump said. “He did not do it. He was there as vice president — vice president for eight years — and it’s not like it was 25 years ago. It was just a little while ago, right? He did not do anything.”

Mr. Trump’s attempt to portray himself as an outsider running against the Washington establishment after serving for four years as president may seem like a bit of a stretch. But it proved effective in 2016 against Mrs. Clinton, and it reminds his supporters of what they liked about him in the first place.

Trump doubles down on health care without offering a plan.


Trump Says He Hopes Supreme Court Overturns the A.C.A.

President Trump said he wanted the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act and he would then put forth a plan that keeps protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. He did not offer details.

“Over 20 million Americans get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It’s headed to the Supreme Court. And your administration, Mr. President, is advocating for the court to overturn it. If the Supreme Court does overturn that law, those 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance almost overnight. So what would you do if those people have their health insurance taken away?” “What I would like to do is a much better health care. Much better. We’ll always protect people with pre-existing. So I’d like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand-new, beautiful health care. The Democrats will do it because there’ll be tremendous pressure on them, and we might even have the House by that time, and I think we are going to win the House, OK? You’ll see. But I think we’re going to win the House. But come up with a better health care, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions.”

The president opened himself up to a tough line of questions on health care by saying earlier on Thursday that he hoped the Supreme Court would overturn the Affordable Care Act. Arguments on the constitutionality of the health law are set for early next month. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has made dismantling it one of his top priorities.

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The law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, a highly popular policy that has become more urgent with a pandemic that has sickened millions of Americans. Aware of the political risks of his position, Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised to put forth a plan to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions do not lose their insurance. But he has yet to announce a detailed plan, and he faltered during the debate as he tried to account for Republicans’ calls to abolish the health law, which played a large role in their losing control of the House in 2018.

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