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: Trump claims Biden called Black Americans 'super predators'
Trump claimed that Biden referred to Black Americans as "super predators" in 1994.
"He's been in government 47 years, he never did a thing, except in 1994, when he did such harm to the Black community and they were called and he called them super predators, and he said that, super predators," Trump said. "And they can never live that down. 1994, your crime bill. The super predators."
This is mostly false — Biden never used that term. It was Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, who used the word "superpredator" to advocate for the 1994 crime bill that Biden co-wrote more than 30 years ago.
Biden did warn of "predators" in a floor speech in support of his bill, however.
The 1994 crime bill earmarked billions of dollars for new prisons and encouraged states to keep criminals behind bars for years by offering special grants. It also instituted a federal "three-strikes" life sentence mandate, among other things. After the bill was enacted, crime dropped and incarceration rates skyrocketed.
"The crime bill, however, was just the most high-profile legislation to increase the number of people behind bars," New York University's Brennan Center for Justice concluded in a 2016 analysis. "On their own, states passed three-strikes laws, enacted mandatory minimums, eliminated parole, and removed judicial discretion in sentencing. By dangling bonus dollars, the crime bill encouraged states to remain on their tough-on-crime course."
Fact check: Trump was given a 'cure' for Covid-19
Trump claimed that he was given a treatment and that "some people would say it's a cure."
There is still no cure for Covid-19. When Trump was hospitalized with Covid-19, he received Regeneron's antibody cocktail. In a video posted to Twitter when he left the hospital, he said it was "a cure."
"For me, I walked in, I didn't feel good, a short 24 hours later, I was feeling great," he said.
While it's likely that the treatment helped Trump, he's overstating its benefit.
It is impossible to know which, if any, of the multiple drugs the president received while hospitalized helped. Doctors also gave Trump the antiviral drug remdesivir and a steroid called dexamethasone.
No drugs for Covid-19, however, have been proven to be a cure for the disease. Clinical trials of the treatment Trump received continue.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there is a "reasonably good chance" that the Regeneron drug made a significant difference in the course of the president's illness. But, he added, it's impossible to extrapolate one person's apparent success to the general population.
Fact check: Trump and Biden spar over child separation
Biden and Trump sparred over immigration and Trump's policy of separating children from their parents at the border when the president was asked how he'd reunite the reportedly more than 500 children whose parents can't be located.
Let's take a look at each candidate's claims and the facts.
"A lot of these kids come out without the parents," Trump said, claiming that they were brought by "coyotes" or brought to the U.S. by cartels.
Biden countered that those children "came here with parents. They [the Trump administration] separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come here to begin with."
Biden is accurate here. While some teenagers do come across the border unaccompanied, the children in question were separated from their parents. The separations were discussed by the Trump administration as a way to deter people from crossing the border.
Trump's "zero tolerance" policy aimed to prosecute every illegal border crosser, including asylum-seekers. To do that, the administration separated children, including babies, from their parents or legal guardians because the adults were being detained and prosecuted.
The president also claimed that the "cages" his administration has been criticized for holding the children in were built by the Obama-Biden administration.
"Let me tell you, they built cages," Trump said.
That's true, although there was no widespread Obama-era policy of separating parents and children. Trump and his administration have previously tried to justify the family separation policy and defend against accusations from Democrats that Trump put "kids in cages" by saying Obama started it.
The Obama administration separated migrant children in limited cases, primarily over questions of safety or potential child trafficking but "not as a matter of policy or practice," former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
After a surge in unaccompanied children and women at the border in 2014, the Obama administration did detain families in "cages," or chain link structures, where children were generally kept for the mandated guideline of several days. It also built emergency shelters for children and a detention center for families, some of which have been used to house children during the Trump administration.
Chris Wallace: I would like to have moderated that debate
Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first debate, offered a nod to Welker during the Fox News post-debate reaction.
"First of all, I'm jealous," Wallace said. "I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and to get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions."
Final debate wraps up with question about the candidates' would-be inaugurals
The final matchup between Biden and Trump wrapped up with few interruptions — thanks in part to the mute button — and with praise for the moderator for keeping the pace smooth, following up with pointed questions and pressing both candidates on a number of issues.
In the final question, each candidate was asked what he would say in his inaugural address to those who didn't vote for him.
Trump kept to his standard themes, predicting an economic depression if Biden is elected, but he didn't speak directly to those who did not vote for him. His response was more in line with his speeches at campaign rallies, saying that the economy was damaged by Covid-19 and that his administration would bring it roaring back.
Biden said he would be an "American president" and represent everyone, including those who don't vote for him. He promised to grow the economy, create millions of jobs through clean energy and fight systemic racism. He also said that decency and hope are on the ballot and that his administration would restore them in America.
Graphic: Who talked about what (and for how long) in the final debate
Fact check: Will the stock market 'crash' if Biden wins?
Trump said that if Biden wins, the stock market will crash.
"If he is elected, the stock market will crash," Trump said.
There is no evidence to support this claim. Financial experts and analysts have repeatedly pointed out that no market dip will occur specifically because Biden wins, and some have even said the market is likely to rise regardless of who wins.
Ruchir Sharma, the chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, wrote a column in The New York Times last month saying his own investment research, dating to the 1860s, showed that the stock market "has no clear bias in favor of either party and that market volatility in the run-up to an election is perfectly normal."
He added that investors widely believe that Biden would, if elected, "govern more moderately when in office, raising taxes and regulation while decreasing tensions over immigration, global trade and China," which would have "little effect on the market's overall direction."
Other finance experts have predicted that if Biden wins and can wrangle control of the Covid-19 pandemic, the stock market could rise considerably.
As debate comes to a close, Welker praised for her performance
NBC News' Kristen Welker received a positive response for her moderating from viewers online, with some joking that she was the “real winner” of the night.
Some also noted that Welker fluidly slipped into fact-checking mode when warranted (something that past moderators have shied away from) and asked very specific and direct questions.
It also helped that Trump appeared more willing to play by the rules at this debate and that the candidates’ mics were muted during their two-minute response times.
Trump gets asked about environmental racism. He points to the economy.
Trump was asked about poor Black and brown Americans who live near chemical plants and oil and gas refineries and fear the pollutants coming from those facilities are making them sick, whether with cancer or other ailments.
Welker noted Trump’s efforts at deregulation and how that might have made conditions more unhealthy for those Americans, and what his message is on why they should support him for four more years.
Trump’s response? His policies were making those people wealthier than ever.
Fact check: Trump says he has a plan to cover pre-existing conditions. He doesn’t.
Trump said Thursday: "We will always protect people with pre-existing [conditions]. So I would like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand-new, beautiful health care."
Trump has not released a health care plan or endorsed policy ideas to protect pre-existing conditions.
He has fought to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which set up those protections by requiring insurers to accept all customers, prohibiting them from charging sick people higher prices, and guaranteeing a minimum package of policy benefits. While there is no current partywide plan, Trump and Republicans don’t support all of those provisions.
Trump-backed GOP legislation that passed the House and died in the Senate in 2017 would have weakened pre-existing condition rules by granting waivers to states so insurers can charge sicker patients higher costs on the basis of health status. Other Republican bills would also waive those rules for states.