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Highlights from the final Trump-Biden presidential debate

Get the latest election news, voting results and polls.

NBC News NOW

Jan 30, 2023

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:

829d ago / 2:01 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump gets rates of recovery for Covid-19 wrong

Trump said Thursday that "99.9 [percent] of young people recover" from Covid-19 and that "99 percent of people recover" from the virus.

Neither statistic is true. 

Last month, a research paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that among more than 3,200 adults ages 18 to 34 who were hospitalized with the disease, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation and nearly 3 percent died.

Of those who survived, 3 percent — 99 patients — had to be discharged to another health care facility to continue their recoveries.

The claim that 99 percent of people infected with Covid-19 recovered is also false. There have been 8.4 million confirmed Covid-19 infections in the U.S. and more than 224,000 deaths from the virus.

A cursory calculation of the U.S. death rate, based on those numbers, would mean that 2.6 percent of all people with confirmed infections have died of the virus.

Experts have explained that the exact death rate is far more difficult to identify, because there could be a far greater number of people who were infected but were never tested because they were asymptomatic.

Separately, Trump's claim that so many "recover," as well as the figures above, don't take into consideration people who were infected who have suffered from symptoms that have lingered for months, and in some cases have been debilitating. 

829d ago / 1:58 AM UTC

Analysis: Sarcasm isn’t working for Biden

A couple of times, Biden has turned to sarcasm to make a point about Trump. It’s not his strong suit because it’s so deadpan it’s hard to tell he’s being sarcastic. The last one involved the ultimate debate loser: Adolf Hitler.

Biden was trying to make the point that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn’t meet with then-President Obama because Kim wouldn’t agree to give up nuclear weapons. Trump said Obama should have met with Kim and that Trump’s meetings were important.

Biden’s response: "We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded the rest of Europe. C’mon man."

The point was Hitler was always bad and so is Kim. But it sounded like he was saying it made sense for the U.S. to have ties to Hitler before World War II. And, for the record, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed Hitler, through letters, to refrain from invading other countries.

829d ago / 1:57 AM UTC

First mic cut of the night goes to Trump

Trump’s discursive response about protecting health care and preexisting conditions while also dismantling the Affordable Care Act resulted in the first mic cut of the night. 

His mic was muted just as he was trying to finish his response. It was an effective way to keep the moderator in control and get a response from Biden.

829d ago / 1:55 AM UTC

Mention of 'witch hunt' draws Biden eye roll

As the words “witch hunt” rolled off Donald Trump’s tongue, Joe Biden gave up any veneer of tolerance. He looked up to the ceiling, rolling his eyes upward, while taking in a deep breath. He wasn’t saying anything, but the body language spoke to exasperation. 

829d ago / 1:55 AM UTC

Trump praises Welker, whom he has attacked for days

829d ago / 1:54 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump claims Biden got $3.5 million from Russia. No evidence for this.

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Trump, as part of a lengthy string of unverified allegations about Biden and his family's financial interests, claimed that Biden received millions "through Russia."

"Joe got $3.5 million through Russia, and it came through Putin because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow," the president said.

“You made $3.5 million, Joe!” he said.

The president’s claims appear to be rooted in far-right conspiracy theories that the business dealings of the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, were somehow funneling foreign dollars to the vice president and the rest of his family. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing on either Biden's part, and Biden strenuously denied any foreign revenue streams from the debate stage.

Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report resurfacing allegations that Hunter Biden had foreign business deals that posed “potential conflicts of interests” with Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings considering his father was the sitting vice president.

Largely focusing on those optics, the report doesn’t say that Hunter Biden’s work changed U.S. policy. Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates slammed the report as an “attack founded on a long-disproven hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory” that Johnson “has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump's re-election campaign."

One of the main claims about Hunter Biden raised in the GOP report is that he received $3.5 million from a Russian businesswoman.

The GOP report says the Russian wired $3.5 million to a firm associated with Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, told Politico that it was “false” to say the younger Biden received that money because he has no “interest in” the firm.  

Read the GOP’s summary of the report here and the Biden campaign’s criticism of the probe here.

 

829d ago / 1:53 AM UTC

'C’mon!' Biden leans into his catchphrases

Biden-isms were on full display as the former vice president expressed disbelief at Trump’s claims during the debate. 

He called Trump’s claims on Biden’s alleged foreign entanglements “malarkey,” what Biden would say  is something he picked up in a working-class Irish Catholic family.

Also, he has said “c’mon!” every time Trump dredges up a baseless attack on him. 

It's important to note that the interrupting has returned, but not as much as in the first debate. Trump has been demanding more response time and interrupting the moderator.

829d ago / 1:53 AM UTC

Graphic: The top topics in the debate at the halfway mark

In tonight’s debate, Covid-19 has dominated the discussion.

Get the latest breakdown of time spent on topics with the NBC News presidential debate tracker.

829d ago / 1:49 AM UTC

Trump's answers on his finances take twists and turns

Pushed to answer questions about his personal finances, Trump's answers took viewers on a winding road. 

On his taxes, Trump says his accountants won't let him release them, then says former special counsel Robert Mueller went through his taxes (which the redacted version of Mueller's report does not mention), and also claims he pre-paid his taxes (that could mean he took deductions on his losses).

Then on his bank account in China, Trump says he had an account, then closed it and then ran for president. One of the lawyers for the Trump Organization told The New York Times the account remains open but unused.

829d ago / 1:45 AM UTC

Almost halfway into the debate, not too many interruptions but plenty of attacks

Chaotic it’s not. A toned-down President Donald Trump and an on-the-attack Joe Biden spent the first 35 minutes of the debate talking about the issues while lobbing attacks on each other.

Interruptions, a mainstay of the previous debates, have been infrequent at best.

Get the latest numbers on attacks and interruptions with the NBC News presidential debate tracker.

A graphic showing which candidates have attacked and interrupted one another the most.
829d ago / 1:43 AM UTC

Biden responds to attacks about son’s business dealings

Biden responded to attacks involving his son Hunter Biden and his business dealings, emphatically saying he has never taken any cash from a foreign government, that his son was not paid by China, and the neither of them did anything wrong with regard to Ukraine.

829d ago / 1:42 AM UTC

Biden hits Trump on China

Trump has spent much of his campaign trying to attack the former vice president as “Beijing Biden.” 

But that smear has not seemed to stick, especially after The New York Times reported this week on Trump’s business and financial ties to China.  

“We learned that this president paid 50 times the tax in China, has a secret bank account with China, does business with China, and in fact is talking about me taking money? I have not taken single penny from any country whatsoever,” Biden said.

“The only guy that has made money from China is this one,” Biden added, responding to criticism about his son Hunter.

829d ago / 1:38 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump claims vaccine announcement coming 'within weeks'

Trump on Thursday again offered an overly optimistic assessment of when a vaccine for Covid-19 will be made available.

"We have a vaccine that's coming, it's ready, it's going to be announced within weeks, and it's going to be delivered," Trump said Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration released guidelines for Covid-19 vaccine makers, stating that the companies would need to track tens of thousands of study participants for at least two months to look for any possible safety issues before the agency would consider authorization.

Given the timeline of when phase 3 clinical trials began, the new guidance indicates that the earliest a Covid-19 vaccine could possibly apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) would be the end of November.    

Last week, Pfizer said it was on track to have that data by the third week of November, and that it would not apply for an EUA before that point. However, the FDA would still need to review the data before granting an EUA.

Kristen Welker, the debate moderator, asked if the president's statement was a guarantee.

"Yes, no, it's not a guarantee. It will be distributed by the end of the year," Trump said.

829d ago / 1:38 AM UTC

Biden calls for shutdowns where hot spots are occurring

Biden was unwilling to back a national shutdown of businesses to control Covid-19’s spread, but he said Trump could impose shutdowns and require social distancing where hot spots are occurring.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was late to close businesses and impose mask mandates, has kept businesses closed in communities where Covid-19 hospitalizations exceed 15 percent of total hospital capacity. Abbott, a Republican, imposed those tailored restrictions after a summer surge of cases that swamped hospitals around the state. 

Image:
Joe Biden listens during the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., with President Donald Trump.Jim Bourg / Pool via AP

 

829d ago / 1:34 AM UTC

Trump and Biden are both staying on topic

From Covid-19 to the election, Trump and Biden are sticking to the question topics in the first 30 minutes of the debate. We're tracking live here.

829d ago / 1:33 AM UTC

About that election interference

Biden and Trump were asked about recent reports of election interference. The context is that the FBI announced Wednesday night that Iran was behind emails sent to some Florida Democrats that purported to be from the extremist group The Proud Boys. 

On Thursday, two U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that Russia remains the greatest threat to the election and that Iran and Russia had hacked local governments and obtained voter registration and other personal data.

829d ago / 1:32 AM UTC

Welker's moderating praised on Twitter

829d ago / 1:31 AM UTC

Trump targets Whitmer during debate

Trump again took a shot at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, comparing the coronavirus restrictions in her state to being imprisoned.

The Democratic governor and Trump have feuded in recent days after the FBI thwarted a kidnapping plot against her. The conspirators were so-called militiamen who used similar language to the president's.

Whitmer placed blame at the president’s feet, calling him complicit. Trump has pushed back and accused Whitmer of wanting to be a “dictator.”

829d ago / 1:31 AM UTC

Analysis: Toned-down Trump says the same stuff only in more dull fashion

Trump obviously came into the debate with the goal of behaving more like a traditional president than the version that harangues moderators and rivals. But the loss of bluster hasn’t been complemented by the presence of logic.

"I take full responsibility," Trump said of responding to Covid-19. "It’s China’s fault."

It may even sound less attached to reality when it’s said in a calm voice than bellowed. Now, he’s spouting disinformation theories.

Image: US-VOTE-DEBATE
President Donald Trump speaks during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, 2020.Brendan Smialowskis / AFP - Getty Images
829d ago / 1:29 AM UTC

Trump (again) downplays impact of children contracting Covid

Making an argument for schools to re-open, Trump spoke of his son Barron, 14, who also tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. 

“We have to open our schools," Trump said. "As an example, I have a young son. He also tested positive. By the time I spoke to the doctor a second time, he was fine, it just went away. Young people, I guess it’s their immune systems." 

Trump has repeatedly pushed false information about how young kids are impacted by the virus, inaccurately claiming that it’s not much to worry about. 

829d ago / 1:26 AM UTC

Art of the deal? Not so much

Trump notes that people are losing their jobs and are feeling depressed because of the economic realities they are facing during the pandemic, but he has been unable to reach a deal with Democrats and Republicans to bring back the unemployment insurance that kept people afloat through the early months of the outbreak.

It has been 83 days since the $600 a week, provided by the CARES Act, expired. No deal has been struck, partly because Trump has not been in sync with Republican leaders let alone the Democrats.

829d ago / 1:23 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump claims coronavirus is 'going away.' U.S. leads in deaths, cases.

"It will go away and as I say, we are rounding the turn, we are rounding the corner, it's going away," Trump said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic that's killed more than 224,000 Americans. 

There’s no evidence of this. The U.S. has an uncontrolled outbreak, reporting more than 69,000 new Covid-19 cases today. Cases are climbing in most states, and the U.S. has more cases than any country, with more than 8.3 million, and more deaths than any country, recently surpassing 220,000. 

829d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

Biden hits Trump over Covid-19 response

Trump attempted to downplay criticism of his administration’s response to Covid-19 by saying people are learning to live with it. 

Biden hit back saying “people are learning to die with,” speaking directly to the camera to talk to voters who have lost loved ones to the virus. 

It’s a strong line from Biden, whose strategy at tonight’s debate seems to be reminding the public of the virus and how Trump has handled it. He also spoke directly to the camera in the first debate, which was seen an effective way to cut through the interruptions from Trump. 

829d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

Few interruptions in the first 20 minutes — partly because of mic cuts

Both Biden and Trump have attacked each other more than a dozen times in the first 20 minutes of the debate, but surprisingly there have been limited interruptions. Mic cuts appear to be working.

829d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

Fact check: Biden's managing of the swine flu epidemic was a 'disaster'

Trump has frequently called the Obama-Biden administration's handling of the swine flu a "disaster." 

"Frankly, he ran the H1N1, swine flu, and it was a total disaster. It was less lethal, but it was a total disaster. Had that had this kind of numbers, 700,000 people would be dead right now. But it was a far less lethal disease," Trump said Thursday.

This is not true and requires additional context. Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, has credited luck — and not the Obama administration response — with the fact that the swine flu did not kill more people. (Klain did not head up the response to the H1N1 virus, he was working for Biden at the time. He was, however, the administration’s Ebola czar.)

“We did every possible thing wrong — 60 million Americans got H1N1,” he said at a biosecurity summit in May 2019. “It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.”

The swine flu is estimated to have killed 12,000 in the U.S., far fewer than the more than 200,000 who have died of Covid-19 to date.

Klain later told Politico his comments referred to the administration’s difficulties producing enough of the vaccine they developed, and argued the Obama team quickly adapted to the pandemic — quickly responding and distributing supplies from the federal stockpile, for example — and made very different choices than the Trump administration. 

It’s also worth noting that the Obama administration received generally high marks for its response to the swine flu. While government reports after the fact identified room for growth they also highlighted successes, like rapid research and development of a vaccine that arrived in less than six months. There’s little contemporaneous reporting on the Obama administration response that portrays the kind of unmitigated disaster Trump is suggesting occurred.

829d ago / 1:17 AM UTC

The quiet before the storm? Mute button prompts calmer debate so far

The mute button — so far — has resulted in a calmer debate as Trump and Biden debate the response to Covid-19. 

The candidates are criticizing each other without crosstalk, and the moderator has control over the debate as a result. Trump also appears to be taking notes, which he has not done in previous debates. He has also been clearer and more coherent than in past debates. 

829d ago / 1:17 AM UTC

Fact check: Is Trump 'immune' after Covid-19 infection? Needs context.

Trump has said this before, and it requires more context. 

"Now they say I am immune. Whether it's for a month or lifetime, nobody has been able to say that but I'm immune," Trump said Thursday.

There is some evidence that coronavirus infection may confer immunity that lasts for a few months after a person has recovered from a Covid-19 infection, though research is ongoing.

Some infections result in lifelong immunity (think chicken pox) while other infections will produce short-term immunity in recovered patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he believes the coronavirus confers at least some short-term immunity. 

829d ago / 1:15 AM UTC

Biden brings up New England Journal of Medicine editorial

In his response to Trump's answer on the pandemic, Biden refers to a scathing editorial that The New England Journal of Medicine published earlier this month

The 35 editors who signed the editorial did not call out President Trump by name, the article is filled with references to his actions.

"The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate," they wrote. "The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls."

829d ago / 1:14 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump says 2.2 million people were projected to die from Covid-19

Trump, defending his administration's pandemic response, claimed  Thursday that "2.2 million people — modeled out — were expected to die" from the coronavirus.

Trump has made this claim previously — that original projections for coronavirus deaths in America said the country would lose 2.2 million people to the virus.

This is misleading. Trump is referring to a model published on March 17 by Imperial College London, which did predict that 2.2 million people in America could die from the virus, but only if no mitigation efforts whatsoever were in place.

In late March, White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told NBC's "Today" that the projection of 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths referred to what could happen if America did "nothing" to stop the spread of the virus.

"If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx said at the time.

As of Thursday evening, there have been 223,262 deaths attributed to the virus in America, according to NBC News data.

829d ago / 1:13 AM UTC

First question on Covid-19

The candidates squared off on the pandemic to start off Thursday’s debate, with Trump saying that if he hadn’t acted as he did, way more people would have died, and Biden saying the president’s incompetence needlessly cost thousands of additional lives.

With cases and hospitalizations on the rise, Welker asked both candidates how they will fight the upcoming stage of the pandemic.

“As you know, 2.2 million people modeled out were expected to die,” Trump said. “We closed up the greatest economy in the world.”

The president said the vaccine will come soon. He did not elaborate on anything different he would do in combating the virus, though he did point to his recovery from Covid-19 as proof that conditions are improving.

“We rounding the corner,” Trump claimed. “It’s going away.”

Biden pointed to the 220,000 Americans who have died.

“Anyone who’s responsible for not taking control — in fact saying, 'I take no responsibility' — anyone who [has that] response to that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.”

Biden said Trump “still has no plan, no comprehensive plan.”

Biden added he would work toward national standards on reopening businesses and a ramping up the testing strategy.

“I will make sure we have a plan,” he said.

829d ago / 1:12 AM UTC

Welker fact-checks Trump in real time

829d ago / 1:07 AM UTC

Candidates arrive on stage. One in a mask, one without.

829d ago / 1:05 AM UTC

Debate commission co-chair goes over changes to final debate

Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, went over the rules of the debate ahead of the 9 p.m. start time, reminding participants that they agreed weeks ago that they would respect the two-minute response time allotted to each candidate per question before diving into a back-and-forth debate. 

“Unfortunately, if you happened to watch the first debate, those rules were not necessarily followed," he said. "The commission felt that we could not put in a new rule, and what we thought we would do was put in a way to enforce what they had agreed to, the original rule: no interruption.”

Fahrenkopf explained that at the start of each of the six subject areas, the candidate who is not giving his two-minute opening response will have his mic muted. Once they have both delivered their 2-min opener, their mics will both be hot for debate. 

829d ago / 1:01 AM UTC

Attacks, interruptions and topics: Follow along live

829d ago / 12:57 AM UTC

NBC News' Welker to moderate tonight's debate

Moderating Thursday's final debate is NBC News' Kristen Welker.

Welker has served as a White House correspondent for NBC News since 2011. Last November, she served as one of four moderators at the fifth Democratic primary debate.

In the lead-up to the debate, Trump and his allies have targeted Welker, as they did with the first debate's moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace.

"Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS," Trump tweeted Thursday, complaining about his recent interview with CBS' Lesley Stahl. "Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!"

In a statement, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said, "Kristin Welker is focused on delivering for the American people a substantive conversation about the issues that voters care about and she’s going to do everything in her power to make that happen."

829d ago / 12:44 AM UTC

Inside the debate hall: Lots of masks and some notable VIPs

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The view from inside the debate hall: masks. Lots of them. We haven’t seen anyone without one, though, notably, the Trump family hasn’t arrived yet. They were the main ones defying the mask mandate at the Cleveland debate.

The president’s motorcade is set to arrive any minute, and Joe Biden is already here. Seats are marked off for some of those members of the first family — Melania, Eric and Ivanka Trump. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is also here in the hall as are some former members of Congress: Democrat Lincoln Davis and Republican Jimmy Duncan Jr. among them.

Image: US-VOTE-DEBATE
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, left, speaks to other attendees.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

The arena is bigger and less intimate than the room for the first debate in Cleveland, and in another contrast, people are freely mingling and chatting. The vibe is pretty low-key.

829d ago / 12:37 AM UTC
829d ago / 12:32 AM UTC

Pete Buttigieg fires back on Hunter Biden allegations on Fox News

Pete Buttigieg has made several viral appearances on Fox News in recent weeks as a Biden surrogate. On Thursday night, he appeared again and offered a retort to the accusations leveled against Hunter Biden.

"If they want to make this about the business deals of a government official, let's talk about the president of the United States having a secret Chinese bank account," Buttigieg said. 

The Trump campaign had previously sought to push the accusation that Hunter Biden's relationships in the Ukraine were illegal, and has recently shifted its focus to China. 

Buttigieg made the case that Trump's business relationships with China were more pressing to the public than Hunter Biden's.

"And they won't even tell us what bank it's with," Buttigieg said. "Does that bother Americans? I'm pretty sure it bothers Americans a lot more than what they're trying to whip up for the last 12 days of this election season."

829d ago / 12:19 AM UTC

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.

Image: John Daly, Kid Rock
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
829d ago / 11:30 PM UTC

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. 

829d ago / 11:07 PM UTC

Inside the campaign to 'pizzagate' Hunter Biden

World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony
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.

829d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

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

829d ago / 10:18 PM UTC

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.
The debate stage before the second presidential debate at Belmont University on Oct. 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.Shannon Pettypiece / NBC News
829d ago / 10:16 PM UTC

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.

829d ago / 10:00 PM UTC

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.”

829d ago / 9:57 PM UTC

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

Image: Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will participate in the last presidential debate on Thursday night.
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.

829d ago / 9:00 PM UTC

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

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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.

829d ago / 8:35 PM UTC

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

Image:
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.

829d ago / 8:19 PM UTC

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

Image: JOe Biden and President Donald Trump
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.

829d ago / 8:04 PM UTC

Voter who didn't cast ballot in 2016 explains why 2020 is different

David Litko didn't bother voting in 2016. He didn't think his vote mattered.

That's not how the McKeesport, Pennsylvania, resident is approaching 2020. He is voting this time around — and he's backing former Vice President Joe Biden in the pivotal swing state.

Litko, 61, represents a crucial 2020 voting block — people who did not vote in the 2016 presidential race but are this time. He told NBC News that he was disturbed by President Donald Trump's repeated efforts at delegitimizing mail-in voting — saying the president's "anti-democratic leanings" led him to register.

"I didn't vote in 2016 because, well, I didn't think it mattered. Then Pennsylvania was won by just, what was it? 44,000 votes?" Litko said, adding, "I was afraid that Trump was trending toward wanting to become president for life, invalidating democracy, and so I wanted to vote against that."