4 Key Biden Moments at the Final Debate

The Democratic nominee spoke of Americans lost to the coronavirus, parried attacks over his son and proceeded cautiously on immigration.


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 Astead W. Herndon

The debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. had its share of sharp clashes on Thursday evening, as the two candidates met for the final time before Election Day.

Mr. Biden, who remains ahead in national and key battleground polling, framed Mr. Trump as a divisive leader who has failed to guide the country through the coronavirus pandemic. The president, who interrupted his opponent much less than during their first debate (partly because of new debate rules), denounced Mr. Biden’s international and domestic record.

Here are four standout moments from Mr. Biden during the debate, which was held at Belmont University in Nashville.

An image of missing loved ones at the dinner table.


‘People Are Learning to Die With It,’ Biden Says of Coronavirus

Joe Biden disputed President Trump’s assertion that “we’re learning to live with” the coronavirus, citing its deadly effects on families.

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.

The first question of the debate went to Mr. Trump, asking about his handling of the pandemic. The president, invoking his own diagnosis with the virus and seeking to turn the page away from the topic, said that Americans were “learning to live with” the outbreak and that the “country can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.”

Mr. Biden used the moment to do something the president has not: acknowledge the hundreds of thousands in the country who have lost loved ones to the virus. He shot back that Americans are “learning to die with” the virus, and highlighted how families are missing loved ones at the dinner table or in their bedrooms.

The words served a dual political purpose. Mr. Biden wants to center this election on Mr. Trump’s pandemic response, which has earned low marks from both voters and health experts. Mr. Biden has also fashioned himself as a comforter in chief, using moments of grief to highlight his history of family tragedy and connect with voters on a human level.

Attacked by Trump over his son, Biden says, ‘It’s not about his family and my family, it’s about your family.’


‘It’s About Your Family,’ Biden Says

Joe Biden reached out to American families about economic concerns, saying of President Trump, “That’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”

“He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family and your family’s hurting badly. If you’re making less than — if you’re a middle class family you’re getting hurt badly right now. You’re sitting at the kitchen table. This morning deciding well, ‘we can’t get new tires, they’re bald because we have to wait another month or so,‘ or ‘are we’re going to be able to pay the mortgage?’ or ‘Who’s going to tell her she can’t go back to community college?’ They’re the decisions you’re making in the middle class families like I grew up in Scranton and Claymont. They’re in trouble. We should be talking about your families. But that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”

Throughout the week, Mr. Trump’s allies had made clear he intended to attack Mr. Biden over his son’s business dealings, including those in China. Conservative news outlets have zeroed in on that angle as Election Day nears, hoping to cast Mr. Biden and his family as nefarious characters who profited off his political position.

Mr. Biden was ready for the attacks with a two-pronged offensive strategy to throw the onus back on Mr. Trump.

First, he referred to a recent New York Times report showing that Mr. Trump had a previously undisclosed bank account in China, though many other details remain unclear. This allowed Mr. Biden to push back on the notion that he was soft on China in the name of his son, and force the president to answer for various business dealings that he has not clarified to the American people.

Mr. Biden also had a line that seemed to come from debate preparation: “It’s not about his family and my family, it’s about your family. And your family’s hurting badly. If you’re a middle-class family, you’re getting hurt badly right now.”

Mr. Trump immediately mocked him for sounding like a “politician,” but the moment spoke to Mr. Biden’s clear intention to pitch unity against divisiveness. For a long time, American politicians’ children were considered off-limits in attacks from rival candidates. Mr. Biden was speaking to voters who may be uncomfortable with this new political world.

Who built the cages?


Biden Ignores Trump’s Taunts

President Trump tried to interrupt Joe Biden with accusations about the Obama administration’s border policies.

“Who built the cages, Joe?” “Let’s talk about what we’re talking about.” “Who built the cages, Joe?” “Let’s talk about what we’re talking about: What happened? Parents were ripped — their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents, and those kids are alone.”

In the Democratic presidential primary, Mr. Biden’s challengers sometimes sought to hit him over President Barack Obama’s handling of immigration. Throughout Mr. Obama’s tenure, when Mr. Biden was vice president, liberal groups criticized the administration over its strict border enforcement and high numbers of deportations.

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And as Mr. Trump has defended his controversial child separation policy, he has tried to insulate himself by saying that Mr. Obama made the cages that housed the children taken away from their parents by the Trump administration.

During the immigration section of the debate on Thursday, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked Mr. Biden, “Who built the cages?” Mr. Biden did not respond directly, choosing to focus on the president’s words and actions in the last year.

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