Otago Daily Times
Rivals clash on Covid in final debate
[Trump] pours fuel on every single racist fire. This guy has a dog whistle as big as a foghorn
NASHVILLE: US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden offered sharply contrasting views on the coronavirus pandemic at yesterday’s final presidential debate, seeking to persuade the few remaining undecided voters 12 days before the November 3 election.
Trump adopted a more restrained tone than he did during the chaotic first debate in September, when he repeatedly interrupted Biden. But yesterday’s clash still featured plenty of personal attacks between them, and Trump kept factcheckers busy by levelling unfounded corruption accusations at Biden and his family.
The televised encounter in Nashville, Tennessee, represented one of Trump’s last remaining opportunities to reshape a campaign dominated by a pandemic that has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States.
‘‘Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America,’’ Biden said.
Trump defended his approach to the outbreak and said the country could not afford to close businesses again.
‘‘We’re learning to live with it,’’ said Trump, who has played down the virus for months.
‘‘We have no choice.’’ ‘‘Learning to live with it?’’ Biden retorted. ‘‘Come on. We’re dying with it.’’
Trump asserted that a vaccine was potentially ‘‘weeks’’ away. Most experts, including administration officials, have said a vaccine is unlikely to be widely available until mid2021.
Several US states, including the swing state of Ohio, reported record singleday increases in Covid19 infections yesterday, evidence the pandemic is accelerating anew.
Trump, whose instinct remains to run as an outsider, portrayed Biden as a career politician whose nearly 50year record was insubstantial. But Biden returned again and again to Trump’s nearly four years as president, pointing to the economic damage the virus has done to people’s lives.
After an opening segment on the pandemic, the clash pivoted to exchanges over whether either candidate had improper foreign entanglements.
Trump repeated his accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in China and Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Biden called them false and discredited. He defended his family and said unequivocally that he had never made ‘‘a single penny’’ from a foreign country, before accusing Trump of trying to distract Americans.
‘‘There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey,’’ Biden said, looking directly into the camera. ‘‘It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family’s hurting badly.’’
He accused Trump of avoiding paying taxes, citing a New York
investigation that reported Trump’s tax returns show he paid almost no federal tax over more than 20 years.
Trump said he had paid ‘‘millions’’. He again said he would release his returns when a longstanding audit was completed.
The candidates clashed over healthcare, China policy and race relations, Biden saying Trump was ‘‘one of the most racist presidents’’ in history.
‘‘He pours fuel on every single racist fire,’’ he said.
‘‘This guy has a dog whistle as big as a foghorn.’’
Trump responded by criticising Biden’s authorship of a 1994 crime Bill that increased incarceration of minority defendants while asserting that he had done more for Black Americans than any president with the ‘‘possible’’ exception of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s.
Biden criticised Trump’s effort to persuade the US Supreme Court to invalidate the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Trump said he wanted to replace it with something ‘‘much better’’ that would offer the same protections, even though the Administration has yet to propose a comprehensive healthcare plan despite a promise to do so for years.
Biden said his environmental plan would ‘‘transition from the oil industry’’, prompting Trump to go on the attack.
‘‘He is going to destroy the oil industry,’’ Trump said. ‘‘Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania?’’
Trump’s window to influence the outcome may be closing: a record 47 million Americans already have cast ballots. — Reuters