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Highlights from the final Trump-Biden presidential debate

Get the latest election news, voting results and polls.

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in their final presidential debate on Thursday night.

The 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC's Kristen Welker, took place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, covered a wide range of topics, including Covid-19, race, immigration and climate change.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from October 23, 2020.

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Read highlights, fact checks and takeaway below:

Kid Rock makes an appearance at Thursday's debate

Kid Rock showed up at the debate tonight. Asked if he was supporting Trump's re-election, he told NBC News his presence would do his speaking for him.

"I think being here says it all, right?" he said. "Happy to be invited.”

The ponytailed-and-jumpsuited musician wasn't wearing a mask when he arrived at the debate venue and was later handed one by debate staffers.

PGA pro golfer John Daly, left, and performer Kid Rock, right, take their seats before the start of the second and final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.Julio Cortez / AP

Meadows called Fauci about Plexiglass barriers

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called Dr. Anthony Fauci during the debate walkthrough on Thursday and put Fauci on the phone with an individual from the Commission on Presidential Debates to discuss the merits of having physical plexiglass barriers on stage during the faceoff, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Fauci told that person that all the barriers would do was provide a false sense of security.

The CPD didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

As NBC News reported earlier Thursday, the two plexiglass barriers that were initially positioned between the candidates’ lecterns were removed after the debate commission’s medical adviser consulted with Fauci. 

Inside the campaign to 'pizzagate' Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden.Teresa Kroeger / Getty Images file

Some of the same people who pushed a false conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton that first emerged in 2016 are now targeting Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, with similar falsehoods. Their online posts are garnering astronomical numbers of shares on social media.

The fantastical rumors, which NBC News is declining to repeat verbatim, echo specific plot points central to "pizzagate," a viral disinformation campaign that predates QAnon but also falsely alleges a vast conspiracy of child abuse.

There is an important difference, however. The pizzagate-style rumors in 2016 were largely confined to far-right message boards like 4chan and parts of Reddit. But the Hunter Biden iteration of the same conspiracy theory took off last weekend with the help of speculation from conservative TV hosts and members of Congress. Their theorizing can be traced back to a new website that has been promoted by President Donald Trump and his surrogates.

Read the story.

Michelle Obama throws shade at Trump's '60 Minutes' interview

Plexiglass barriers removed from stage after candidates test negative for Covid

Two plexiglass barriers that were initially positioned between the candidates' lecterns have been removed, Commission on Presidential Debates co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. said.

Fahrenkopf told NBC News that after the commission’s medical advisor, HCA, learned President Trump and Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19 today and consulted with Dr. Anthony Fauci, HCA changed its recommendation that the barriers were necessary. They have been removed and, Fahrenkopf said, both campaigns agreed to that decision.

The debate stage before the second presidential debate at Belmont University on Oct. 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.Shannon Pettypiece / NBC News

Political ads are flooding YouTube

YouTube said Thursday that some political campaigns were running into difficulty finding advertising space at the times and locations they wanted because of rising demand. 

A spokesperson for YouTube said the company still has plenty of advertising inventory, but certain slots were booked because of demand from a variety of advertisers, including ad campaigns unrelated to the election targeted at car buyers and holiday shoppers.

Politics has exploded on the popular online video service this year, as Trump and Biden bought up prominent YouTube ad space and others have used YouTube to drive up voter turnout, raise money or court livestreamers. The coronavirus pandemic also has more people turning to streaming video. 

Bloomberg News first reported Thursday that YouTube was struggling to place all the ads in front of the desired audiences that political campaigns wanted. Prices for some slots in presidential swing states had doubled, it said. 

YouTube said it was not seeing a consistent spike in particular states and that the pattern of increased spending was across the board.

Sen. Mitt Romney: Trump has '40 percent' chance of getting re-elected

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, didn't vote for Trump this year, but he did prognosticate this summer that Trump would be re-elected. 

Now, Romney feels less certain that is going to happen.

"Not as confident as I was before," Romney told reporters in the capitol on Thursday when asked about Trump's chances. "I think he’s got better, a better chance than the prognosticators are predicting at this stage. I think I saw a tweet today saying it’s 12 percent chance, someone else said 10 percent chance. I think it’s much more like 40 percent, but time will tell.”

Trump and Biden prepare for final bout with debate to focus on Covid-19, race

Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will participate in the last presidential debate on Thursday night.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The gloves will be off and so will the mics in the final showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The stage, complete with plexiglass barriers, is set for the rivals’ second and final debate, which will kick off at 9 p.m. ET in Nashville on Thursday with NBC News’ Kristen Welker in the moderator's chair.

Over the course of 90 commercial-free minutes, the candidates will spend about 15 minutes on each of six topics: fighting Covid-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.

And in a new twist, each candidate will have two uninterrupted minutes to address each topic while the others’ microphone is turned off in order to avoid a repeat of the shouty first debate in Cleveland.

Read the story, which will be updated throughout the night.

Trump focuses on Hunter Biden; Biden campaign says 'be our guest.'

Trump plans to focus attention on Biden’s son Hunter and his business activities overseas.

As part of that strategy, Trump’s guest list includes Tony Bobulinski, the former Hunter Biden business partner who told the New York Post that Joe Biden was in line to take a cut of a Chinese business deal negotiated by his son in early 2017.

Biden’s aides told NBC News they’re not worried about the topic.

"Be our guest," Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told NBC News ahead of the debate in Nashville. "He’s been trying to land this for 18 months. It got him impeached. It hasn’t worked."

Bedingfield also said she would not "dignify" the question of whether material allegedly retrieved from Hunter Biden’s laptop with the help of indicted former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is real.

NBC has reported the FBI is looking into how the material was acquired.

North Carolina GOP asks Supreme Court to roll back extra time for accepting mail-in ballots

Workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 3, 2020.Gerry Broome / AP file

Republicans in the presidential battleground state of North Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days for accepting ballots sent by mail.

The Trump campaign, the state and national Republican parties, and Republican leaders of the state legislature said decisions by North Carolina's Board of Elections, upheld by federal courts, "pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process."

Read the story.

The final showdown: 5 things to watch in last Trump-Biden debate

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Any Americans still on the fence — and who haven't been among the hordes of early voters — will have one final chance to hear from President Donald Trump and Joe Biden in their last debate Thursday, during which the president will try to re-energize his base and close the polling gap behind Biden.

Thursday's debate in Nashville, Tennessee, was supposed to be the third faceoff of 2020, but will instead be the second of only two presidential debates after Trump declined to participate in one scheduled for last week after it was moved to a virtual format following his Covid-19 diagnosis.

Trump's polling deficit has only solidified since the poorly reviewed first debate in Cleveland and with more than 30 million votes already cast and, less than two weeks before Election Day, he is running out of time.

Here are five things to watch.