23 Oct 2020

Trump v Biden: Sparks fly in final US presidential debate

6:32 pm on 23 October 2020

Sparks flew and tempers frayed at the second and final US presidential debate between the incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, though measures to control interruptions made for a more constructive discussion.

The final US presidential debate before the 3 November election. At Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee.

The final US presidential debate before the 3 November election. At Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: AFP

The debate, held at Belmont University in Nashville today was planned to revolve around six topics; fighting Covid-19, climate change, American families, national security, leadership and race in the US.

It was one of the last big events the candidates have to convince Americans they are the best person to be President for the next four years, before the election on 3 November.

See how the debate unfolded with RNZ's live blog

Mute buttons were introduced for this debate following the chaos that ensued during the last one - and each candidate was given two minutes at the start of each topic - to speak without being interrupted.

The opening topic was fighting the coronavirus in the US.

Trump said the country had rounded a corner and Covid-19 is going away.

"More and more people are getting better, we have a problem that's a world-wide problem... but I've been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we've been able to do. If you take at look at what we've done in terms of goggles and masks and gowns and everything else."

Biden said anyone who doesn't take responsibility for 220,000 deaths from the pandemic shouldn't be President.

"Anyone who's responsible for not taking control - in fact not saying 'I take no responsibility' initially. Anyone who's responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.

"We're in a situation where there are a thousand deaths a day now - a thousand deaths a day, and there are over 70,000 new cases per day."

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020.

Photo: AFP

Questions about issues threatening national security became a discussion about tax returns. Last month the New York Times revealed Trump paid just $750 in tax the year he took office.

Biden again called on the President, to release his returns.

"I have released all of my tax returns - 22 years of my tax returns, go and look at them. You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns, what are you hiding?

"Why are you unwilling? The foreign countries are paying you a lot, Russia's paying you a lot, China's paying you a lot, and your hotels and all your businesses all round the country, all around the world."

Trump responded by saying he wants to release them and will do as soon as he can.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 22: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden answers a question as President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo: AFP

He also said his accountants told him he had prepaid his taxes.

"They said 'sir you prepaid tens of millions of dollars... over the last number of years'.

"Tens of millions of dollars I prepaid, because at some point they think - it's an estimate, they think I may have to pay tax. So I already prepaid it. Nobody told me that.

"And it wasn't written: they keep talking about $750, which I think is a filing fee."

There are 12 days until the election, and more than 40 million early ballots have already been cast.

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