Debate Live Updates and Analysis: Final Trump-Biden Matchup

Debate Live Updates and Analysis: Final Trump-Biden Matchup

One way or another, Donald Trump is taking the stage tonight for the last presidential debate of his political career.

The Republican incumbent is meeting former Vice President Joe Biden on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville for the second and final televised debate of this election. The backdrop of a global pandemic, a sour economy and the ongoing national reckoning over racial injustice are all expected to take center stage as the pair of men in their 70s vie for the White House in the final days of an unprecedented election cycle.

The mutual animosity between Trump and Biden is at levels unseen since George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis clashed in 1988. It was clear from their comments and body language in their first head-to-head on Sept. 29 that there is little, if any, respect between the rivals. Trump has seen the campaign slip further from his grip as his campaign funds have dried up and poll numbers have gone south. Biden is coasting on a comfortable lead, even as his own campaign manager warns nothing is certain with a little more than a week of voting to go.

Tonight’s debate isn’t likely to have much persuasive value. Few voters are truly undecided at this point, and at least 40 million people have already cast their votes. Instead, both candidates will be trying to fire up their bases to get their supporters out to the polls. In other words, this isn’t going to be about Congressional Budget Office scores for legislation, but rather scoring big political points in the campaign’s final days.

Trump has never been one to worry about winning such evenings on merits or minutiae anyway. For him, it’s all about the show. His campaign aides refused to discuss what preparations Trump has made for the evening, which may well be his final chance for such a moment. Even if he wins re-election, he won’t be eligible to run again. And should he lose, there’s little chance he’d ever match the more than 70 million viewers that tuned in for the last debate. This is Trump’s debate finale, and few are expecting him to show restraint.

Here are the key moments from the debate so far.

Is This Thing On?

One of the first moments of interest will be in how debate organizers enforce their rule that only the person being asked the question can speak. The edict emerged after the chaos in Cleveland during the first debate, when candidates repeatedly interrupted his rival, though Trump took the interjections to a class far apart from anything previously seen.

For tonight, organizers said they would be making changes to enforce a format that opens each section with a question posed to one candidate, who then is supposed to get two minutes of uninterrupted time to answer. They have promised to mute the microphones of any cajoling candidate who is ignoring the rules during that time.

Trump has already called this effort a biased move designed to help Biden. For his part, Biden will probably just be happy to have six 120-second windows to talk without Trump’s taunts.

Write to Philip Elliott at [email protected], Alana Abramson at [email protected] and Abby Vesoulis at [email protected].

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