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.
Read highlights, fact checks and takeaway below:
Fact check: Biden suggests Trump could deplete Social Security by 2023. Needs context.
Biden suggested Thursday that Trump's policies could bankrupt Social Security.
The president is "the guy that the actuary of Medicare said, of Social Security, that if in fact he continues to withhold, his plan to withhold the tax on Social Security, Social Security will be bankrupt in 2023, with no way to make up for it," Biden said.
The Biden campaign has cited a letter by the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary that said that permanently eliminating all payroll taxes without a replacement would deplete the Social Security trust fund by 2023. But this is not Trump’s current position and the same letter noted that if Congress mandated the cost of the tax cuts come out of the general fund, as Trump has suggested, then benefits would be “essentially unaffected.”
The Biden campaign immediately alleged that Trump was arguing for a de facto gutting of Social Security, since it is funded by payroll taxes.
But the White House quickly clarified that Trump doesn’t actually want to eliminate payroll taxes entirely, only to permanently forgive a four-month payroll tax holiday he issued via executive order during the coronavirus crisis. On Aug. 13, for example, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters: “What he was meaning yesterday is that he wants permanent forgiveness of the deferral.”
Trump has also said he’d use deficit spending to fund his tax holiday plan, which would not affect Social Security.
Another important thing to keep in mind: There’s no scenario in which Trump could make any permanent changes to the tax system without the OK of Congress.
Trump calls other countries 'filthy' in question on climate change
Asked about climate change, Trump pointed the finger at countries like China, Russia and India, calling them “filthy.”
“Look at China,” Trump said. “How filthy it is! Look at Russia. Look at India. It’s filthy!”
The president was immediately referencing pollution, but the word carries a connotation far beyond that.
It was reminiscent of when the president referred to some African and Latin American countries as “s---holes.”
Biden and Trump spar, again, on whether the stock market is the economy
Trump said the stock market would “boom” if he were to be re-elected, and that if Biden were elected, markets would “crash.”
“Where I come from...people don't live off of the stock market,” Biden replied, noting the deepening divide between Wall Street and Main Street.
While Trump has frequently touted the stock market’s rise as a proxy for his own success, it has been seen as both cause and symptom of the widening gap between the country's haves and have-nots.
By the numbers, the rich are getting richer and the less well off are staying that way — or worse.
There are 644 billionaires in the U.S. and during the pandemic they gained $1 trillion in net worth, according to a new analysis.
A study from UBS and PwC showed that billionaire wealth increased by 27.5 percent during the spring lockdowns, with the stock market pushing the fortunes of the world’s richest citizens past the $10 trillion mark for the first time.
The world’s richest man, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, has seen his fortune almost double so far this year, from $115 billion to just over $200 billion. The bulk of Bezos' fortune comes from his Amazon shares, which hit a high this year amid record demand from housebound consumers who turned to the e-commerce giant for everything from toilet paper to streaming services, and saw continuing strong demand for its cloud computing services.
Journalists of color respond to Trump calling himself 'least racist'
Trump's 'lowest IQ' remark about migrants slammed on Twitter
After Trump said immigrants "with the lowest IQ" might show up for asylum hearings after having been released into the country, the comment quickly drew clapbacks on Twitter.
"Trump says he 'hates' to insult someone by saying they're 'low IQ'. As we've seen over the years, he doesn't hate it enough," Arianna Huffington tweeted.
Fact check: Was U.S. the first country to shut down travel from China after Covid-19 emerged?
Biden on Thursday said Trump only "shut down" travel from China at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic "late, after 40 countries had already done that."
This is true.
Starting on Feb. 2, the U.S. barred entry by foreigners who had traveled in China in the past two weeks, with some exceptions.
According to a list kept by the Council on Foreign Relations of countries that shut down travel from China because of the Covid-19 pandemic — and when they did it — at least 42 did so before the United States.
The best carbon emission numbers in 35 years? Not so much
Trump just said that U.S. has achieved the best carbon emission numbers in 35 years.
But he has cut funding to EPA and gotten rid of more than 70 environmental regulations, weakening climate protections. The U.S. actually saw the biggest spike in carbon emissions in 2018 since 2000 — that was under Trump.
‘Look at us closely’: Biden draws contrast with Trump
Biden, looking directly into the camera, laid out clearly and effectively what has been at the heart of his campaign message — what he said was the sharp contrast between him and Trump.
“You know who I am, you know who he is," Biden said. "You know his character, you know my character. You know our reputations for honor and telling the truth. I am anxious to have this race. I am anxious to see this take place. The character of the country is on the ballot,” Biden said. “Look at us closely.”
Biden was prompted by criticism from Trump that the Obama-Biden administration had not accomplished numerous things during their eight years in office and had been “all talk and no action.”
Fact check: Does Biden want a fracking ban?
Trump claimed that Biden wants to ban fracking.
"Just like he went at it with fracking," Trump said. If Biden wins, he said, “We’re not gonna have fracking. We’re gonna stop fracking, we’re gonna stop fracking.”
"Then he goes to Pennsylvania after he gets the nomination, and he got very lucky to get it, and he goes to Pennsylvania, and he says, 'Oh, we’re gonna have fracking,'" Trump added.
This well-worn attack against Biden is not true, although Biden’s position on the issue is complicated.
Biden has repeatedly said he will not ban fracking; the policies he has released only call for no new fracking on federal lands. His policy also allows for existing fracking on federal lands to continue, and existing and new fracking on privately owned land to continue.
Biden, however, has also called for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — a plan that would include a systematic departure from the use of fossil fuels, which has implications for fracking. He hasn’t explicitly said how or when that move away from fossil fuels would affect fracking, but Trump has used the proposal to tell audiences, inaccurately, that his opponent wants to ban fracking now.
Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is a practice used to tap into natural gas reserves deep below the earth's surface. It’s a critical issue in states like the battleground of Pennsylvania, where the practice has brought economic prosperity to several once-impoverished areas. It is controversial because many of the chemicals used in the process are toxic to humans and have been known to cause serious health problems in populations near fracking fields.
Trump mocks some undocumented immigrants as having low IQs
During the segment on immigration policy, Trump said the only undocumented immigrants who show up for court hearings are those “with the lowest IQ.”
He was referring to the practice of catch and release, which allows migrants to stay in the country while they wait for hearings on their immigration cases.
The comment drew immediate backlash on Twitter. Trump has questioned the IQs of others in the past, many of whom were people of color.
Fact check: Trump falsely claims 180 million people will lose health care if Biden wins
Trump said Thursday, "We have 180 million people out there that have great private health care — far more than what we’re talking about with Obamacare."
"Joe Biden is going to terminate all of those policies," he added.
"Under what he wants to do, which will basically be socialized medicine, he won’t even have a choice, they want to terminate 180 million plans," Trump added.
Trump has made this claim repeatedly, and NBC News has fact checked it repeatedly. This claim is false. It conflates Biden's plan with those of other Democrats pushing "Medicare for All."
While estimates vary about how many Americans have private insurance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that 180 million people have private insurance.
But Biden's plan wouldn't end private insurance, though that was part of some of Biden's Democratic primary opponents proposals. Instead, Biden's health care plan would create a public option for those who want to get government health insurance while allowing those with private insurance to stay on their plans.
Many Republicans have sought to tie the proposals for "Medicare for All" to all Democrats — and it is true that many Democratic members of Congress are sponsoring the bill (118 in the House and 14 in the Senate). But Biden has criticized "Medicare for All" throughout his campaign.