The beginning of the end: key takeaways from the final presidential debate

The final debate between President Donald Trump and presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden was held on Oct. 22. The debate covered topic areas such as COVID-19, healthcare and systemic racism.


President Trump opened the debate by citing lowered mortality statistics, indicating that the United States has almost recovered from COVID-19. 

“If you notice, the mortality rate is down 85%, the excess mortality rate is way down and much lower than almost any other count,” Trump said. “It will go away and as I say, we’re rounding the turn—we’re rounding the corner—it’s going away.”

Trump stated that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be done before the end of the year, but that he thinks it could be done in as soon as a matter of weeks.

Debate moderator Kristen Welker indicated that Trump’s own officials disagreed and projected a longer timeline for completion of the vaccine and full recovery from COVID-19.

In response, Trump cited pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, that he feels are close to finishing a vaccine. He indicated that his timeline is even more accurate than that of his officials. 

Biden also began by discussing COVID-19 statistics, stating that another 200,000 Americans could die by the end of the year because of the virus.

In response to this, Biden stated that he will make a plan for addressing COVID-19 recovery, stressing the importance of safety guidelines.

“What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time,” Biden said. “I would make sure we move in the direction of rapid testing … I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses so they can be safe.”

Biden indicated that when a vaccine does become available, he would like the government to ensure the safety and transparency of its contents. As for the president’s COVID-19 plan, Biden described it as virtually nonexistent.


The main subject that Welker brought up for this section was the Affordable Care Act and the current court case seeking to overturn it. If the act is overturned, healthcare providers will no longer be required to extend parents’ healthcare coverage to children aged between 18 and 26 and pre-existing conditions will no longer be covered.

Trump indicated that following the removal of Obamacare, he would institute his own healthcare plan to cover pre-existing conditions. None of the participants on stage, including the moderator made mention of the extension of coverage to young adults. 

Biden describes his healthcare plan, which he refers to as “Bidencare,” as “Obamacare with a public option.” Essentially, Biden seeks to provide federal healthcare that would compete with private companies. Biden makes clear that this would not affect individuals who have private insurance currently.

Systemic Racism and Black Lives Matter

As the debate moved on, Welker indicated that Americans are concerned that Trump’s words have contributed to a climate of hate. Welker asked what he would say to those Americans. 

“The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting … ‘pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon,’” Trump began. “I said, ‘that’s a horrible thing,’… I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room.”

Trump stated that he doesn’t know what to say to people who are concerned by his rhetoric and indicated that he has helped minority communities during his presidency. He cited that he has provided better education and job opportunities while also reforming the prison system. 

Welker later moved to Biden, asking him to speak directly to the families affected by the 1994 drug related legislative bill that disproportionately affected black men and why they should vote for him.

“(The bill) was a mistake,” Biden said. “I’ve been trying to change it since then, particularly the portion on cocaine. That’s why I’ve been arguing that in fact we should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense—they should be going into treatment, across the board.”

Biden went on to indicate that he aims to further spending for drug courts that would send people to drug treatment centers instead of jail. 

Trump asked Biden why he hadn’t accomplished his goals during the Obama presidency. Biden indicated that he was stopped by the republican congress at the time. 

This was the last debate before the presidential election and voting will end on Nov. 3. 

Joel Moret can be reached at [email protected] or @JoelMTheOrion on Twitter.