Home News Trump, Biden tangle over COVID-19 in opening of final presidential debate

Trump, Biden tangle over COVID-19 in opening of final presidential debate


The coronavirus pandemic once again loomed large during the opening of the second and final presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, serving as the opening question to the candidates.

The pair engaged in a spirited, but decidedly civil debate on the subject that served as a departure from last month’s first debate, which was rife with cross-talk and schoolyard insults.

“We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease from China,” Trump said, fielding the first question from moderator and NBC News journalist Kristen Welker. “We’re fighting it, and we’re fighting it hard.”

Trump also said that a vaccine for the disease would be “announced within weeks,” but under further questioning from Welker admitted that was “not a guarantee.”

And Trump spoke of his own battle with the virus, which scuttled another debate scheduled between the two for last week.

President Donald Trump takes the stage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
President Donald Trump takes the stage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.Getty Images

“I can tell you from personal experience, I was in the hospital, I had it,” he said. “I was in for a short period of time, and I got better very fast, or I wouldn’t be here tonight.”

Biden, meanwhile, focused on the American death toll in his response, saying that America is set to endure “a dark winter.”

“Two hundred and twenty thousand Americans dead,” he said. “If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. … Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.

“He says we’re learning to live with it,” Biden added. “People are learning to die with it.”

Trump countered that America must reopen or wither.

“I want to open the schools. … I want to open our country. We’re not going to have a country,” he said. “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Biden said that he was not opposed to reopening, but that it was both possible and essential to do so safely.

“We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Biden, adding sarcastically, “All you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die, so don’t worry.”

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