NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Liveblogging the final presidential debate of 2020 from the great Pacific Northwest

Good evening, and wel­come to NPI’s live cov­er­age of the final pres­i­den­tial debate of 2020. NPI staff will be watch­ing and shar­ing impres­sions of the debate between Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Joe Biden and Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump as it pro­gress­es. The debate, spon­sored by the Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial Debates, is being broad­cast on all major net­works as well as online platforms.

We high­ly rec­om­mend C‑SPAN if you’re livestream­ing the debate as opposed to watch­ing it on a cable or broad­cast tele­vi­sion net­work.

Bel­mont Uni­ver­si­ty in Nashville is host­ing the debate, which will be mod­er­at­ed by NBC’s Kris­ten Welk­er, the co-anchor of Week­end Today and the net­work’s White House cor­re­spon­dent. The for­mat is as follows:

The debate will be divid­ed into six seg­ments of approx­i­mate­ly 15 min­utes each on major top­ics to be select­ed by the mod­er­a­tor and announced at least one week before the debate.

The mod­er­a­tor will open each seg­ment with a ques­tion, after which each can­di­date will have two min­utes to respond. Can­di­dates will then have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to respond to each other.

The mod­er­a­tor will use the bal­ance of the time in the seg­ment for a deep­er dis­cus­sion of the topic.

The debate will begin at 6 PM Pacif­ic and run for about nine­ty min­utes. The can­di­dates will stand at podi­ums, while Welk­er will be seat­ed in front of them at the mod­er­a­tor’s table. In keep­ing with tra­di­tion for gen­er­al elec­tion pres­i­den­tial debates, there will be no com­mer­cial breaks or interruptions.

The Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial Debates has decid­ed to pre­vent this debate from turn­ing into a dis­grace by mut­ing the can­di­date micro­phones dur­ing the time allo­cat­ed for the two minute respons­es to each mod­er­a­tor question.

The sec­ond pres­i­den­tial debate, which was to take the form of a “town hall”, was scrapped after Don­ald Trump con­tract­ed COVID-19 and after Trump and Biden made plans to do sep­a­rate duel­ing “town halls” with ABC and NBC.

Welk­er has announced the selec­tion of the fol­low­ing top­ics for the debate:

Sub­ject to pos­si­ble changes because of news devel­op­ments, the top­ics are as fol­lows, not nec­es­sar­i­ly to be brought up in this order:

  • Fight­ing COVID-19
  • Amer­i­can Families
  • Race in America
  • Cli­mate Change
  • Nation­al Security
  • Lead­er­ship

Cli­mate is on the list this time, as it should be, along with “Race in Amer­i­ca” and “Fight­ing COVID-19”. “Lead­er­ship” is not much of a top­ic, but hope­ful­ly Welk­er will have a ques­tion worth pos­ing to the candidates.

Our live cov­er­age will begin below at the time the debate starts.

5:58 – Welk­er says she is look­ing for­ward to a “robust dis­cus­sion” – we’ll see just how “robust” Trump decides to make it!

6:05 – The can­di­dates walk onto stage. Joe Biden enters with a mask, tak­ing it off before he reach­es the podi­um. Of course, Trump has no mask. The two men bare­ly mum­ble terse hel­los to each other.

6:08 – The first ques­tion chill­ing­ly reminds the audi­ence that 16,000 have died of Covid-19 since the last debate. Trump, of course, blames Chi­na. He lists off “spikes and surges” say­ing that they’re all “now gone,” shrug­ging off the mas­sive suf­fer­ing the virus caus­es. He’s very insis­tent on his belief that he’s immune. Trump fin­ish­es off “We’re going round the cor­ner, it’s going away.”

6:10 – Biden brings the ham­mer to Trump’s Covid record – any­one who takes no respon­si­bil­i­ty for 200,000 dead Amer­i­cans does not deserve to be pres­i­dent. He promis­es, “I will take care of this, I will end this, I have a plan!”

6:11 – Welk­er points out that Trump Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials expect Covid-19 mea­sures to last into 2022. Trump says he knows bet­ter than them. Biden reminds us “This is the same fel­low who said it would be over by Easter.”

6:13 – Trump’s claim that Biden was “way behind us” on Covid, which does­n’t make sense – Biden was­n’t in charge!

6:15 – Epic word sal­ad from Trump: “nine­ty nine point nine of young people…you can’t shut down a nation or you’ll have no nation.”

6:16 – Biden’s response to Trump is great: “Learn­ing to live with it? Peo­ple are learn­ing to die with it!”

6:19 – Welk­er asks whether shut­downs will cause wide­spread suf­fer­ing. Biden promis­es to “shut down the virus, not the country.”

6:20 – Trump demands that schools open, cit­ing his son’s recov­ery from Covid-19 proves that young peo­ple are invul­ner­a­ble to the disease.

6:22 – Biden bor­rows a line from his old boss: “I don’t look at this the way he does, blue states and red states, we’re all the Unit­ed States.”

6:24 – Welk­er asks why Trump called Dr. Fau­ci “a dis­as­ter.” Trump says that Fau­ci claimed the pan­dem­ic would go away soon, then fol­lows up with “I think he’s a Demo­c­rat!” Biden comes in to remind us all of the Wood­ward tapes, where Trump admit­ted to hid­ing the sever­i­ty of Covid-19.

6:28 – Welk­er asks about Russ­ian and Iran­ian attacks on the U.S. elec­tion sys­tem. Biden sends out a clear mes­sage to for­eign adver­saries – “they will pay a price…they’re inter­fer­ing with Amer­i­can sovereignty.”

6:29 – Biden says that for­eign adver­saries want to take down his cam­paign because “they know I know them and they know me!” He then asks why Trump isn’t tak­ing on elec­tion interference.

6:30 – Trump starts ram­bling about some con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry he found on Twit­ter, and then makes the claim “nobody’s been tougher on Rus­sia.” How­ev­er, he can’t help but fall back down the rab­bit-hole, ref­er­enc­ing a base­less New York Post sto­ry about Biden’s family.

6:32 – Biden uses the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attack Trump on his tax returns: “For­eign coun­tries are pay­ing you a lot…release your tax returns or stop talk­ing about cor­rup­tion.” Trump says he will release the returns “as soon as pos­si­ble,” which he said FOUR YEARS AGO

6:34 – Welk­er keeps ask­ing Trump about his tax returns. He says that he “pre-paid” his tax­es – a ridicu­lous fab­ri­ca­tion. Biden’s response: “Show us, stop play­ing around.”

6:35 – Trump starts rant­i­ng about the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, a favorite hob­by horse of his.

6:36 – Biden is asked about his son Hunter’s busi­ness deals in for­eign coun­tries, a favorite talk­ing point of con­spir­a­cy theorists.

6:38 – This debate seems to be turn­ing into a punch­ing match over dif­fer­ent cor­rup­tion allegations.

6:40 – The debate turns to the U.S. rela­tion­ship with Chi­na. Biden makes a sub­stan­tial argu­ment about how he would change pol­i­cy. How long before Trump turns back to con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists about Hunter Biden?

6:41 – Under ten sec­onds, as it turns out.

6:42 – Biden tries to bre­alk out of the cycle: “It’s not about his fam­i­ly or my fam­i­ly, it’s about YOUR fam­i­ly,” point­ing to the cam­era. Ordi­nary fam­i­lies are “the last thing he wants to talk about.”

6:45 – Trump is falling back into his old ways, talk­ing over the moderator.

6:47 – The debate turns to health­care, a ter­ri­ble issue for Trump. Trump starts by brag­ging about end­ing the indi­vid­ual man­date. He wants to ter­mi­nate Oba­macare, but nev­er brings up a Repub­li­can plan, beyond “a brand new, beau­ti­ful healthcare.”

6:49 – Trump launch­es into a ridicu­lous assault on Medicare for All – unfor­tu­nate­ly for him, that’s not Biden’s pol­i­cy. Biden, unlike Trump and the Repub­li­cans, can actu­al­ly lay out his plan for health­care. It helps to have a plan!

6:51 – Biden points out that Trump has no plan: “I guess we’ll get the health­care about the same time we get the infra­struc­ture plan?”

6:52 – Biden bor­rows a line from his pri­ma­ry rival, Bernie Sanders: “Health­care is a right!”

6:54 – Biden: “Peo­ple deserve to have afford­able health­care, peri­od. Peri­od, peri­od, period…he keeps talk­ing about, he has­n’t done a thing for anyone!”

6:56 – Biden takes an oppor­tu­ni­ty to break down Trump’s argu­ment about the Stock Mar­ket – “peo­ple don’t live off the Stock Market.”

6:59 – Biden eas­i­ly turns Trump’s attacks on the Democ­rats in the House by point­ing out that the HEROES Act is being held up by the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Sen­ate. Trump turns to a favorite tact, attack­ing the bill for help­ing “bad­ly run Demo­c­rat cities” and immi­grants. Biden uses this an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put him­self on the side of all Amer­i­cans, not his par­ti­san side.

7:01 – Trump uses a com­mon­ly used lie about min­i­mum wages, that they cause lay­offs. Biden calls out the lie. Biden makes a strong defence of the $15 min­i­mum wage.

7:03 – Trump blames his child sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy on “car­tels and gangs.” Biden reminds us of the truth – the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion’s pol­i­cy was to dis­in­cen­tivise par­ents. Biden calls the child sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy “crim­i­nal.”

7:05 – Biden is hon­est and calls the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion’s depor­ta­tions a mis­take. He lays out his plans for immi­gra­tion reform, and defends the peo­ple in the U.S. on the DACA program.

7:07 – Biden on immi­gra­tion is at his strongest, chan­nel­ing moral out­rage and a clear grasp of the facts to assault Trump’s argu­ment. All Trump can do is return to racist attacks on immigrants.

7:12 – Welk­er asks Joe Biden about Black par­en­t’s fears. Biden is empa­thet­ic and lays out desires to “give peo­ple a shot.” Trump brings up the 1994 Crime Bill that Biden co-authored. “Nobody has done more for the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, with the pos­si­ble excep­tion of Lincoln.”

7:13 – Trump’s response is inco­her­ent and ram­bling, most­ly con­sist­ing of him recount­ing con­ver­sa­tions in his office…

7:14 – Biden’s come­back to accu­sa­tions about his 1990s record by recall­ing Trump’s racist treat­ment of the Cen­tral Park 5. He points out that Trump has com­mut­ed 20 sen­tences, while Oba­ma com­mut­ed over a thousand.

7:17 – Biden draws dis­tinct lines between his char­ac­ter and Trump’s. Trump can’t help but bring up the “lap­top from hell” con­spir­a­cy theory.

7:18 – Trump says “I am the least racist per­son in this room.” THREE TIMES

7:20 – Biden lists off Trump’s many racist state­ments and actions, fin­ish­ing with “he’s got a dog whis­tle as big as a fog horn.” Trump starts rant­i­ng, elic­it­ing an “aw, God,” from Biden (we all feel you, Joe).

7:21 – Biden admits that the drug poli­cies of the 1980s and 90s were a mis­take. “They should not be going into jail for a drug or alco­hol prob­lem, they should be going into treat­ment.” Trump tries to return to his 2016 pop­ulism: “You’re all talk and no action.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Trump, Biden can actu­al­ly refer to the many achieve­ments of the Oba­ma Administration.

7:23 – In response to Trump’s ques­tion about why the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion could­n’t achieve its aims, Biden sim­ply answers: “Because we had a Repub­li­can Con­gress. That’s the answer.”

7:27 – Biden calls action on cli­mate change “a moral oblig­a­tion,” and points to Trump’s elim­i­na­tion of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions. He points out that his cli­mate plan would not only reduce emis­sions, but cre­ate mil­lions of new jobs. “Our health and our jobs are at stake!” He points out to analy­sis that shows Biden’s eco­nom­ic plan will cre­ate mil­lions jobs and a tril­lion dol­lars more growth than Trump’s.

7:28 – Trump’s response is pret­ty insane, say­ing that Biden is “hop­ping through hoops for AOC plus three.” He also says “I know more on wind than you do. It’s expen­sive, it kills all the birds!” Biden can’t help but laugh.

7:31 – Biden just ruled out ban­ning frack­ing, bow­ing to right-wing attacks on him.

7:34 – When asked about com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing near pol­lut­ing plants, Trump says that they are mak­ing lots of mon­ey, so what’s the big deal? Biden by con­trast recalls grow­ing up near oil refiner­ies in Delaware, and argues that “we have to grow near­er to net zero emis­sions.” He pledges to tran­si­tion away from the oil industry.

7:36 – When asked what he would say on Inau­gu­ra­tion Day to those who did­n’t vote for him. He does­n’t seem to under­stand the ques­tion, threat­en­ing dis­as­ter if Biden wins. Biden says he will make sure all Amer­i­cans are rep­re­sent­ed. “We have enor­mous oppor­tu­ni­ties to make this coun­try bet­ter.” He promis­es action on racial injus­tice and clean ener­gy industries.

7:37 – And the debate is over! Mela­nia Trump (per­haps chas­tened by recent expe­ri­ences) approach­es the stage wear­ing a mask. Biden dons his mask…Trump remains maskless.

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