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Trump, Biden go after each other on coronavirus, taxes

October 23, 2020 09:12 AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. October 22, 2020
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden offered sharply different visions of how to handle the surging pandemic and fought over how much Trump pays in taxes during their final debate of a tumultuous campaign.
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With Trump trailing and needing to change the campaign's trajectory, the debate could prove pivotal though more than 46 million votes already have been cast and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in previous election years. The the debate did not feature the repeated angry interruptions of the candidates’ other showdown, the men engaged in a series of clashes.

With two weeks until the election's conclusion, 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.


President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are set to square off in their final debate Thursday. AP's White House reporter, Jonathan Lemire says the debate still matters and can change the trajectory for both candidates. (Oct. 22)
“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.”

But 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.”

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 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.

In a visual reminder of the pandemic that has rewritten the norms of American society and fundamentally changed the campaign, sheets of plexiglass had been installed onstage Wednesday between the two men. But in the hours before the debate, they were removed.

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 mostly milder tone until near the end when Trump resumed his tactic of loudly butting in. In a campaign defined by ugly

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters. And questions swirled beforehand as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed deeply personal attacks on Biden and his adult son.

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.

Trump repeatedly claimed Biden’s plan to tackle climate change and invest in green industries was developed by “AOC plus three, ” referring to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden chuckled during much of Trump’s answer and said, “I don’t know where he comes from.”

“I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds, ” Trump said to Biden, who laughed at the response.

On race, 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."

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 that when it comes to health care, he would like “to terminate” the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, even amid a pandemic, and come up “with a brand new beautiful health care, ” that protects coverage for preexisting conditions. Biden said the president has been talking about making such a move for a long time but “he’s never come up with a plan.”

- AP

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