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Debate day: Trump and Biden head for Nashville for final face-off with the microphones muted


Debate day: Donald Trump and Joe Biden head for Nashville for final face-off with the microphones muted for two minutes after each question – and president promising to bring up Hunter’s emails

  • The two men meet for the first time since their angry clash in Cleveland 
  • Opponents’ mic will be silenced during opening statements
  • Trump has said he will bring up Hunter Biden’s laptop
  • He has repeatedly accused his rival of ‘corruption
  • Barack Obama ridiculed Trump Wednesday night
  • U.S. reported more than 1,200 coronavirus deaths Wednesday for the first time since August
  • Biden has held durable national leads; many battleground states are tight
  • Biden has has a big advertising advantage on the air in the final weeks 

Donald Trump and Joe Biden met face-to-face at a distance Thursday in their final match-up in an already angry contest that the president has threatened to blow up even further by launching a series of attacks on the former vice president’s son.

It is the final debate of the election – the previous one got scratched after Trump refused to take part in a ‘virtual’ format after getting the coronavirus – and represents an opportunity with dwindling time for the president to try to reset the race.

Trump hoped he could throw his rival off balance and demonstrate that his mind is ‘shot’ by repeatedly attacking and interrupting him during the first debate in Cleveland. But Biden ended up getting a slight bump in national polls taken afterward.

Now, the president has telegraphed he will accuse his rival of ‘corruption’ just like he has at his campaign rallies leading up to Thursday – and will not hold back from torching Hunter Biden after the release of emails that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani put out and said came from Hunter’s laptop. 

President Donald Trump

Vice President Joe Biden

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in their final debate Thursday

Trump complained when town hall interviewer George Stephanopoulos didn’t bring up Hunter during his TV talk with Biden last week. 

New changes imposed by the bipartisan debate commission will silence the opposite candidate’s microphone during opening statements, after widespread denunciations of the first encounter. But they will each be free to interject later in the debate.

Trump has said he will bring up Hunter Biden, and complained when town hall interviewer George Stephanopoulos didn't bring him up

Trump has said he will bring up Hunter Biden, and complained when town hall interviewer George Stephanopoulos didn’t bring him up

Trump has blasted China for bringing the 'plague' to the U.S.

Trump has blasted China for bringing the ‘plague’ to the U.S.

Trump faced questions about his taxes at the first debate

Trump faced questions about his taxes at the first debate

The coronavirus overshadows the contest

The coronavirus overshadows the contest

The president’s combative stance was on display with an interview he taped with CBS ’60 Minutes’ Sunday, where he complained to interviewer Lesley Stahl after she asked if he was ready for ‘tough questions.’

BE PREPARED: Trump has already torn into moderator Kristen Welker

BE PREPARED: Trump has already torn into moderator Kristen Welker

The first debate led to acrimony and personal attacks, along with frequent interruptions, the lion's share by Trump

The first debate led to acrimony and personal attacks, along with frequent interruptions, the lion’s share by Trump

‘But you’re okay with some tough questions?’ she asked him.

‘No I’m not,’ he replied. 

Trump has used prior debates for theater, following 2016 rival around the stage in 2016. Clinton said he ‘literally stalked me.’ Trump’s team also brought former Bill Clinton rape and sexual assault accusers to the debate in a play to get inside his opponents’ head. 

This time, Trump says he’ll bring up Hunter Biden, after days of disclosures from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Biden sent a signal of his own – blowing up at a reporter who asked him about the subject several days ago. On Wednesday, he teed off when a local Wisconsin reporter asked him about it in a TV interview. ”This is the same garbage Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s henchman, it’s a last-ditch effort in this desperate campaign to smear me and my family,’ Biden said.

Trump can also use the Hunter saga to point to China – a country he repeatedly accuses of bringing the ‘plague’ into the U.S. He named China as the nation’s top adversary on ’60 minutes.’

Most political observers agree the pressure is on Trump to get something out of the debate. Biden’s leads have been durable, and millions of his supporters have already voted. He also has an advertising advantage on air, with more money in the bank, after the Trump campaign blew through the more than $1 billion it raised since 2017.

Trump was holding a fundraiser in Nashville just five hours before the debate is set to start.

Biden’s national lead is up to 8 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics Average. Analyst Charlie Cook suggests observers look to Senate races for the real ‘drama.’ A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday had the two men tied in Texas, 47-47. 

Trump has softened up the ground by going after moderator Kristen Welker. But he is still likely to face follow up questions from the first debate and town hall about the coronavirus (with more than 1,200 U.S. deaths reported Wednesday alone), and his tax returns, which got leaked to the New York Times.

A Times follow-on report this week revealed Trump’s company had an undisclosed bank account in China.

Biden has struggled when pressed on whether he supports court packing, but may have found his answer in his 60 Minutes interview, saying he would appoint a bipartisan commission to study court reforms.  

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