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Highlights from the final Trump-Biden presidential debate

Get the latest election news, voting results and polls.

NBC News NOW

Dec 02, 2022

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:

770d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

After watching the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, undecided Atlanta voters spoke to MSNBC's Chris Jansing about their reactions and why some were still unsure about the candidates.

770d ago / 12:50 PM UTC

Voters watching last night's debate praised 'civil' tone

Debate watchers in Los Angeles and Nashville responded positively to the "civil" exchanges between the two candidates.

770d ago / 4:49 AM UTC

Who won the Trump-Biden debate? Experts grade the candidates

Image: Donald Trump And Joe Biden Participate In Final Debate Before Presidential Election
Joe Biden and President Donald Trump at the second and final presidential debate. Morry Gash / Pool via Getty Images

President Donald Trump was the most improved performer at Thursday's debate, but a panel of debate experts told NBC News that Joe Biden was more effective with his arguments.

The three experts all agreed the faceoff was more informative than the chaotic first debate in Cleveland last month, but one noted, "That's a very low bar."

While Trump's strategy of interrupting less and letting Biden speak more in hopes of provoking a gaffe from the former vice president was sound strategy, the experts said Biden didn't make the type of major mistake Trump probably needed to change the race.

Here are their report cards.

770d ago / 4:33 AM UTC

Amid debate over xenophobia, reminder 'China virus' is harming Asian Americans

In response to a question about how he would handle the pandemic if reelected, Trump said his administration had acted sufficiently and reissued his claim that Biden had called him "xenophobic" with regard to closing the borders.

It's worth noting he didn't completely bar entry from China. Rather, the administration restricted the entry of foreign nationals who traveled to the country within the previous 14 days. The administration made exceptions for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

And it's still not clear whether Biden was calling Trump's travel ban or his use of  the phrase "China virus" xenophobic.

But what is clear is the use of the phrase has coincided with a sharp rise in attacks against Asian Americans. Reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate collected 2,583 incidents during the pandemic between March 19 and August 5. 

Discriminatory language around the virus, used primarily by GOP leaders and conservative outlets, has had a profound impact on how Americans view Asians in the U.S., research shows. While anti-Asian bias had been in steady decline for over a decade, the trend reversed in days after there was a significant uptick in the use of “China virus” and similar rhetoric in March. The language prompted an increased subconscious belief that Asian Americans are “perpetual foreigners,” researchers said.

During the debate, the president also claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was "dancing on the streets of Chinatown."

The remarks were in reference to an event she held in February, during which she advocated for people to visit the neighborhood’s businesses three weeks before the state issued stay-at-home orders.

One other fact check so we're all on the same page: China is not the same thing as Chinatown.

770d ago / 4:23 AM UTC

Fact check: Did Biden call Trump's China travel restrictions 'xenophobic?'

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Trump, portraying his decision to restrict some travel to the U.S. from China earlier in the pandemic as a life-saving move he made in the face of Democratic opposition, said Biden had called it "xenophobic."

"When I closed, he said I shouldn’t have closed, and that went on for months. Nancy Pelosi said the same thing — she was dancing on the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco. But when I closed, he said, 'This is a terrible thing, this is xenophobic.' I think he called me racist even, because I was closing it to China," Trump said.

Biden has not directly called the president's travel restriction xenophobic or racist, but he did denounce Trump's coronavirus response as "xenophobic" a day after the travel restriction was announced — responding to a tweet in which Trump used a racist term to describe the virus — and in another tweet in March. He's also called the president racist.

After the president defended ending racial sensitivity training for federal workers during the first debate, Biden said, “He's just, he’s racist."

Meanwhile, Trump's assertion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was "dancing in the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco" is a mischaracterization.

In February, Pelosi paid a visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown to promote its businesses, which took a hit as reports of coronavirus cases emerged from China. There isn't any evidence she was "dancing." Rather, she got dim sum, according to reports.

770d ago / 4:05 AM UTC

Fact check: Did Trump say people should inject bleach to fight Covid-19?

During the debate, Biden referred to Trump's suggestion earlier this year that people inject bleach to help stave off the coronavirus.

"He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to go away … maybe inject bleach.’ He said he was kidding when he said that. A lot of people thought it was serious," Biden said.

Trump did indeed speculate that an injection of the sort could have a curative effect.

During a news conference at the White House in April, a Homeland Security official described the ability of disinfectants like bleach to kill the coronavirus on surfaces.

Trump said at the time: "And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? 

"Because, you see, it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it'd be interesting to check that. So that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds — it sounds interesting to me."

He repeatedly said afterward that he was kidding about the suggestion.

770d ago / 3:57 AM UTC

Dems move to limit damage from Biden's comments on oil

Biden's stated plan to “transition” the country away from the oil industry is reverberating — on both sides.

Republicans from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Govs. Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Greg Abbott of Texas jumped on the moment. 

Democrats, meanwhile, are working quick to limit any possible damage to their presidential nominee, highlighting that Biden aims to accomplish the goal by 2050 and that oil industry futures have long looked grim. 

We’ll see whether those arguments will work for Democratic candidates in tight races in states and districts big in the oil business — such as the Democratic Senate candidates in Alaska, Texas, Colorado and Kansas. It’s almost certain the moment will be replayed over and over again by Trump loyalists between now and Election Day.

770d ago / 3:56 AM UTC

Fact check: Biden gets it wrong on trade deficit with China

Biden on Thursday said Trump had "caused the deficit with China to go up, not down, with China."

NBC News fact-checked this claim during the first presidential debate. It is false.

According to government data, the trade deficit — simply put, the net difference in the monetary value of a nation’s exports and imports with another nation — with China has fallen considerably since Trump has been in office.

In 2016, Trump ran in part on a message that was aggressively critical of the trade deals the U.S. had entered in the past. As president, he negotiated a new free trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and, following a trade war, a preliminary “phase one” deal with China.

770d ago / 3:49 AM UTC

Fact check: Are opportunity zones boosting Black and Hispanic communities?

Trump said his “opportunity zones” program was “one of the most successful programs." 

“Tremendous investment is being made. Biggest beneficiary, the Black and Hispanic communities,” the president claimed during the debate.

NBC News took a deep look at opportunity zones last month and found that claims of massive job growth are impossible to prove, and that the bulk of the investments to date have gone to real estate deals that do not produce long-term jobs. Investors are not required to report the number of jobs created or housing units developed.

The vast majority of the billions earmarked for opportunity zones has gone to real estate deals. The New York Times also reported that many of the early beneficiaries of the program were the wealthy, including president’s own family members and advisers.  

770d ago / 3:37 AM UTC

AOC reacts to Trump's debate shoutout

770d ago / 3:33 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump says wind power 'kills all the birds'

“I know more about wind than you do. It's extremely expensive, kills all the birds, it's very intermittent, got a lot of problems,” Trump told Biden during an exchange about energy independence.

Trump frequently criticizes windmills for the threat they pose to birds. Wind turbines do kill birds, though cats and cell towers kill significantly more winged creatures.

What's more, glass towers — like the kind Trump lived in until he moved into the White House — actually kill way more birds than wind turbines. 

770d ago / 3:32 AM UTC

Trump says Obamacare must die. Biden says he'll make it into 'Bidencare.'

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden touted his "Bidencare" plan to create a government-run insurance option, as Republican President Donald Trump defended his push to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and craft a "beautiful" alternative.

"What I'm going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option — becomes 'Bidencare,'" the former vice president said, using the phrase twice to describe his proposal to extend Medicaid coverage, allow Americans on private plans the option of a government-run policy, and expand federal subsidies.

While Biden has fiercely defended President Barack Obama and the ACA, his promises of a "Bidencare" plan indicate a desire to build a health care legacy of his own. His campaign has estimated that the plan would cost $750 billion.

Read the story.

770d ago / 3:24 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump says Biden sold Ukraine 'pillows and sheets.' What's he talking about?

“I sold, while he was selling pillows and sheets, I sold tank busters to Ukraine. There has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump,” Trump claimed.

This claim perplexed many. Biden’s former chief of staff tweeted he’d be open to buying Biden bedding. 

Trump appears to be referring to the fact that under his administration, Ukraine has been approved to  purchase lethal weapons from the U.S..The Obama administration offered Ukraine nonlethal aid when the country's conflict with Russia broke out in 2014. At the time, then-Arizona Sen. John McCain said, “the Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we’re sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don’t do well against Russian tanks.”

But Trump is downplaying the security assistance Ukraine received under Obama and Biden, which included hundreds of vehicles, drones, counter-mortar radars and medical supplies.

770d ago / 3:18 AM UTC

Trump campaign jumps on Biden's oil comments

On a phone call with reporters after the debate (also known as the virtual spin room), the Trump campaign went after Biden for his comments on phasing out oil in favor of more sustainable energy as part of his environmental plan. 

“Joe Biden realized he made a grave error in what he said,” the campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said. 

Murtaugh portrayed Biden as two-faced, arguing that he says one thing when on the campaign trail in states like Pennsylvania and another when he’s talking to “environmental extremists and activists.”

“You cannot be Joe from Scranton and have AOC writing your climate change policy at the same time," he said. "The two things are incongruous.” 

Biden has walked a fine line on issues like fracking. But the oil industry has not done as well during Trump's term as the president has claimed, either.

770d ago / 3:11 AM UTC

Biden says he’ll 'transition' energy industry. Trump and surrogates say he’ll kill U.S. jobs.

At the end of the debate, Biden said he would “transition” the United States away from the oil industry. 

“That’s a big statement,” Trump said in response — and the president’s campaign and Republicans are working hard to make it one. 

The fracking and oil industries are huge employers in Pennsylvania and Texas, both states Trump and Biden are clamoring to capture. 

We’ll see if Trump and his surrogates' zooming in on that moment will be effective. American oil consumption has been on the decline since 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the country has been “transitioning” its energy consumption away from oil for decades.

770d ago / 3:04 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump claims Biden called Black Americans 'super predators'

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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."

770d ago / 2:57 AM UTC

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.

770d ago / 2:55 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump and Biden spar over child separation

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Image: Border Patrol Agents Detain Migrants Near US-Mexico Border
A boy and father from Honduras are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico Border near Mission, Texas on June 12, 2018.John Moore / Getty Images file

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

770d ago / 2:54 AM UTC

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."

Image: Presidential debate in Cleveland
President Donald Trump and moderator Chris Wallace at the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29.Olivier Douliery / Pool via Reuters file
770d ago / 2:52 AM UTC

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.

770d ago / 2:51 AM UTC

Graphic: Who talked about what (and for how long) in the final debate

See what the candidates talked about and how long each spent on each topic with the NBC News debate tracker.

An animated gif.
770d ago / 2:50 AM UTC

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.

770d ago / 2:49 AM UTC
770d ago / 2:47 AM UTC

As debate comes to a close, Welker praised for her performance

Image: Kristen Welker is seen through a window on a television in Texas as she moderates the final presidential debate in Nashville on Thursday.
Kristen Welker is seen through a window on a television in Texas as she moderates the final presidential debate in Nashville on Thursday.Sergio Flores / Getty Images

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.

770d ago / 2:44 AM UTC

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.

770d ago / 2:43 AM UTC

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.

770d ago / 2:41 AM UTC

Trump's messaging around the Central Park jogger case

During the segment on race, Trump pointed to the huge crime bill that Biden ushered through Congress in 1994, which many point to as having been a significant factor in drumming up mass incarceration, especially of those in Black and brown communities. 

But Biden hit back, citing Trump's involvement in driving the rhetoric around the five teenagers who were coerced into taking responsibility for the rape and assault of a female jogger three decades ago.

The young men were later exonerated for the crime after having served years in prison, but Trump's messaging might have contributed to the support that drove the crime bill into law: While he didn't name the teens, Trump ran full-page ads in The New York Times calling for the return of the death penalty in New York state because of the "reckless and dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman."  

One of the five, Raymond Santana, recently told NBC News that Trump's campaign ratcheted up public opinion into a frenzy against the boys. Some experts also say his rhetoric opened the door for harsher punishment of juvenile offenders. As The Atlantic pointed out, from 1995, when the word "superpredator" was made famous, to 2005, when the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders, 62 percent of the children placed on death row across the U.S. were Black or Latino.

770d ago / 2:40 AM UTC

Final tracker tally: More than 200 attacks combined, nearly 50 interruptions

771d ago / 2:36 AM UTC

Fact check: Biden suggests Trump could deplete Social Security by 2023. Needs context.

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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.”

On Aug. 8, President Trump said he wanted to “make permanent cuts to the payroll tax” if re-elected. On Aug. 12, he said his administration “will be terminating the payroll tax.” 

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.

771d ago / 2:34 AM UTC

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.”

771d ago / 2:33 AM UTC

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.

771d ago / 2:33 AM UTC

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.

771d ago / 2:33 AM UTC

Journalists of color respond to Trump calling himself 'least racist'

771d ago / 2:32 AM UTC

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. 

771d ago / 2:30 AM UTC

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.

771d ago / 2:26 AM UTC

‘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.”

771d ago / 2:22 AM UTC

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.

771d ago / 2:22 AM UTC

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.

771d ago / 2:17 AM UTC

Fact check: Trump falsely claims 180 million people will lose health care if Biden wins

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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.

771d ago / 2:17 AM UTC

On immigration, Biden gives a gentle diss to Obama

Pushed by Trump on immigration and asked about what his administration would do differently from his time as vice president, Biden referenced Barack Obama, but not in a particularly fond way.

"It was a major mistake," Biden said of the Obama-era immigration policies. "It took too long to get it right."

Biden added that things will be different if he's in the big chair.

"I'll be president of the United States, not vice president of the United States," Biden says.

771d ago / 2:14 AM UTC

Fact check: Who pays tariffs? Trump says China, Biden says taxpayers

Trump, responding to a question about confronting China, said the country is “paying billions and billions of dollars" to the U.S. and suggested this was money his administration has used to bail out American farmers.

Biden interjected to say that was “taxpayer money” going to the farmers.

So, who is paying for tariffs?

We’ve fact checked this before, and Biden’s right. Tariffs are taxes on goods coming in to the U.S., paid by the importer; those taxes are largely tacked onto the purchase price paid by American consumers.

Tariffs are designed to make foreign-made goods more expensive, boosting domestic producers or, sometimes, forcing international exporters to slash prices to stay competitive. But there's no evidence China has been cutting prices to accommodate Trump’s tariffs, and there’s clear evidence that American families are picking up the tab.

771d ago / 2:10 AM UTC

Fact check: Where does Kamala Harris stand on health care?

and

Trump claimed that Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., supports "socialized medicine."

"He wants socialized medicine, and it's not that he wants it — his vice president, I mean, she is more liberal than Bernie Sanders and wants it even more," Trump said.

Harris' position on health care — at least when she was a presidential candidate — was, in fact, difficult to pin down. In January 2019, she appeared to call for abolishing all private insurance, only to walk it back in May. 

Then, during a Democratic primary debate in June 2019, she raised her hand when candidates were asked whether they would get rid of private health insurance. The next day, she said that she had misunderstood the question and that she wouldn't abolish private health insurance in favor of "Medicare for All" if elected — but then she struggled to clarify her position about the role private insurers had to play. 

Then, in July 2019, she released a plan that sought to stake out a territory somewhere between "Medicare for All" and the Affordable Care Act, with private insurers allowed to compete in a controlled marketplace dominated by government insurance options. So charges that she has flip-flopped on the issue largely ring true.

But that's mostly irrelevant: As vice president, Harris would be charged with helping to implement Biden's vision on health care — not her own. 

Biden's health care plan involves improving Obamacare and creating a public option for those who want to get government health insurance while allowing those with private insurance to stay on their plans.

Image: Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris speaks during the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7.Eric Baradat / AFP - Getty Images file
771d ago / 2:08 AM UTC

This is who’s staying on topic (spoiler: both candidates are)

An hour into the debate and the nominees have stuck close to the moderator’s questions.

According to an NBC News analysis, Joe Biden and President Donald Trump have stayed on topic 82 percent of the time. This is better than the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, when the candidates were on topic close to half the time, also according to an NBC News analysis.

Biden tended to stay more on topic for questions about Covid-19. He was on topic for those about 89 percent of the time, and deviated more for questions relating to China, where he has only been on topic for 75 out of 113 seconds. Trump has stayed on topic for questions relating to ethics, where he was on topic the whole time, compared to staying on topic a little more than half the time for questions relating to the election.

See the latest on what the candidates are talking about and whether they’re staying on topic with the interactive NBC News presidential debate tracker.

771d ago / 2:03 AM UTC

No one knows what Trump’s ‘big, beautiful health care’ looks like

Trump has long promised a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with a plan that will provide people "big, beautiful health care,” going back to January 2017, when he told The Washington Post he would provide “insurance for everybody.”

The president has continued to say he will soon pass a new health care plan and told his supporters not to worry about overturning Obamacare because his plan will protect pre-existing conditions. In July, Trump told Fox News he would sign a bill within two weeks. In August, he said at a press briefing they would have the plan at the end of the month.  

The White House and Republicans still have not disclosed their plan, and it is unclear whether they have one.

771d ago / 2:02 AM UTC

Analysis: Trump rips states he needs to win

Trump said he didn't want to spend more federal Covid-19 relief money to help "Democrat" cities and states.

Those include the critical swing states of ... Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which elected Democratic governors in the Democratic mid-term wave in 2018.

771d ago / 2:02 AM UTC

Biden and Trump have attacked each other more than 120 times combined

771d 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. 

771d 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.

771d 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.

771d 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.