Biden at Presidential Debate: ‘I’ll Choose Science Over Fiction, Hope Over Fear’

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    President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden scrapped over how to tame the raging coronavirus in Thursday’s final 2020 debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to solving the major domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation. With less than two weeks until the election, Trump sought to portray himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans The night in Nashville began with a battle over the president’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Trump declared that the virus will go away while Biden warned that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.” Polling suggests it is the campaign’s defining issue for voters, and Biden declared, “Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.” Trump defended his management of the nation’s most deadly health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden’s warning that the nation had a dire stretch ahead due to spikes in infections. And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks. “It will go away,” said Trump, staying with his optimistic assessment of the pandemic. “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.” “We can’t keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy,” Trump said. “There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.” Biden vowed that his administration would defer to the scientists and said that Trump’s divisive approach hindered the nation’s response. “I don’t look at this in the way he does–blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having a spike in he coronavirus–they’re the red states.” With Trump trailing and needing to change the campaign’s trajectory, the debate could prove pivotal though more than 47 million votes already have been cast and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in previous election years. Their first debate was defined by angry interruptions but Thursday night featured a milder tone until near the end when Trump resumed his tactic of loudly butting in. The two broke sharply on foreign policy, immigration and racial justice. Biden called out Trump’s previous refusals to condemn white supremacists and his attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, declaring that the president “pours fuel on every single racist fire.” “You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” Biden said. The rivals’ reputations for “honor and for telling to truth” are clear, he said. “I am anxious to have this race.” Trump countered by pointing out his efforts on criminal justice reform, blasting Biden’s support of a 1990s Crime Bill that many feel disproportionately incarcerated Black men. Staring into the crowd, he declared himself “the least racist person in this room.” Turning to foreign policy, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summits with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice president laced into the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border. Biden said that America has learned from a New York Times report that Trump only paid $750 a year in federal taxes while holding “a secret bank account” in China. The former vice president then noted he’s released all of his tax returns going back 22 years and challenged the president to release his returns, saying, “What are you hiding?” Trump said he closed his former account in China and claimed his accountants told him he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes. However, as he has for the past four years, after promising to release his taxes, he declined to say when he might do so.

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