The two went toe to toe Thursday night in Nashville. Donald and Joe laced up the gloves and went after each other. It was argumentative, allegation driven, angry, partisan, and personal. There were gut shots, jabs, a couple of roundhouses, and several misses. At the end of the night, there could only be one conclusion. We’ll get to that in a few moments. Let’s take a brief “around-the-ring” and highlight a few of the biggest punches of the evening. We’ll do it in bullet points:
- President Trump, during the debate, asked former Vice President Joe Biden to explain the recent emails revealing details about his family’s purported foreign business dealings. Biden invoked the topic by mentioning Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney. “His national security advisor told him that what is happening with his buddy — well I shouldn’t — well I will — his buddy Rudy Giuliani. He’s being used as a Russia pawn. He’s being fed information that is Russian, that is not true,” Biden said.
- The Democratic presidential nominee was apparently referring to Giuliani supplying The New York Post with a trove of files from a laptop purportedly abandoned by Hunter Biden at a computer repair shop. The Post’s reports about the files suggest that the younger Biden benefited from business dealings in China and Ukraine due to his father’s position at the White House.
- “Joe got $3.5 million from Russia,” Trump said, referring to a payment wired to Hunter Biden from the ex-wife of the former mayor of Moscow. “And it came through Putin because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow and it was the mayor of Moscow’s wife. You got $3.5 million. Your family got $3.5 million. They were paying you a lot of money, and they probably still are,” Trump continued. “But now, with what came out today, it’s even worse. All of the emails, the horrible emails of the kind of money you were raking in, you and your family. And Joe, you were vice president when some of this was happening, and it should have never happened. I think you owe an explanation to the American people.”
The president was likely referring to a new batch of emails sourced from former Hunter Biden associate Tony Bobulinski, who was Trump’s guest at the debate. Bobulinski spoke to the press before attending the event and said that he plans to hand over three of his phones to the FBI. Bobulinski also said that he personally spoke to Biden in May 2017 about the family’s plans for a business partnership with a Chinese energy conglomerate.
“I think you clear that up and talk to the American people. Maybe you can do it right now,” Trump said. “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life,” Biden said.
- Joe Biden said that he would “transition from the oil industry … over time.” When asked, “Would you close down the oil industry?” by President Trump, Biden said, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes.” “Oh, that’s a big statement,” Trump responded, visibly surprised. Debate moderator NBC’s Kristen Welker quickly asked Biden why he would do that. “Because the oil industry pollutes significantly,” Biden said.
- Biden, in late August, said that he would not ban fracking. Previously, Biden said at a March democratic primary debate, “No more—no new fracking.” Biden’s campaign then said he meant he would not allow new federal land-drilling leases. The Trump campaign said that the Biden campaign was “attempting to walk back his previous statements after realizing voters aren’t happy about his proposal to kill thousands of jobs.” President Trump has openly said that he is “all for fracking” and has frequently touted his administration’s push for U.S. energy independence.
- Biden, during the final presidential debate, reaffirmed his support for increasing the minimum wage nationwide to $15 per hour. At the same time, President Donald Trump said he would “consider it to an extent” but likely to keep it a state option. Asked whether he believes it is the right time to ask struggling small business owners to raise the minimum wage, Biden replied that he would like to see federal dollars used to ease their hardships. Trump then challenged Biden. “He said we have to help our small businesses by raising the minimum wage?” Trump asked. “That’s not helping. I think it should be a state option,” Trump said of setting minimum wage laws. “Alabama is different than New York; New York is different from Vermont; every state is different. It’s very important. We have to help our small business; how are you helping small businesses when you’re forcing wages? What’s going to happen and what’s been proven to happen is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees.”
- President Trump said that he does not want to shut down the country over the CCP virus pandemic, arguing, “You can’t close up our nation, or you won’t have a nation. We have to open our country. We’re not going to have a country,” Trump said during the second and final presidential debate in Nashville, saying that the United States is a “massive country” with rising rates of depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, and tremendous drug abuse. “The cure cannot be worse than the problem himself,” he said. “He’ll close down our country.”Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attempted to say that Trump is focused too much on the economy. “People aren’t learning to live with it; they’re learning to die with it,” Biden said. “I don’t look at coronavirus in terms of red states and blue states. They’re all the United States,” he said, adding: “All the states where we see spikes are red states.”
NOTE: Trump invited as his guest Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Biden’s son, Hunter, who claims he has evidence of business ties between the Biden family and a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-owned enterprise. Bobulinski said shortly before the debate that he will soon hand over his evidence to the FBI and cooperate with an investigation by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.
The pair sparred for an hour-and-a-half about the above topics. It was no surprise that each approached each question differently and responded with opposite philosophies about discussing the issues. The two deeply despise each other and have profound differences in governing that, quite frankly, played out during Biden’s four years as VP under Obama and Trump’s four years as President.
We’ll close with just a few summary thoughts:
- Joe Biden spoke angrily almost in total when answering each debate question. It appeared that his doing so was purposeful as if to exhibit to voters how tough he is while, at the same time, trying to identify as the only person vying for the job who understands what Americans need and expect from a president during the next four years. It appeared to be unnatural and projected rather than Joe’s genuine process of speaking.
- President Trump was dramatically different in this debate than from the first debate. It’s true that Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate, lost total control in keeping the candidates on point almost in total. Still, Kristin Welker of NBC News did a remarkably better job in doing so than did Wallace. It not only showed she had control of the flow of the debate, but it also showed she knew her debate questions well and was confident as she guided both men through the debate process. However, it DID appear that the flow of her questions tilted toward Joe Biden by giving him several softball questions, especially in the light of those asked the President.
- Sadly, the Debate Commission refused to make foreign policy one of the night’s topics. With the stark differences in actual foreign policy during both the Obama/Biden and Trump administrations, Americans would be much better informed this weekend on the positions of each candidate if Welker had questioned both regarding their policies in dealing with other countries.
So Who Won?
On content, demeanor, and the ease of answering questions in a concise and unrehearsed fashion, Donald Trump unquestionably raised his hand in the air at the debate conclusion. However, Joe Biden showed just why he spent this week in the Biden “Basement Bunker” and shunned any public appearances: he was in intense debate preparation. And it worked.
All of that is fluff when it comes to debates. All that matters in debates, and especially in this one, is which of the two struck a chord in the hearts of Americans looking-in sufficient for them to elect him as President. There’s no doubt that Donald Trump overwhelmingly won that process.
This morning (Friday), we will launch into further details about the debate on TNN Live that airs from 9-11 AM Central streaming live. We will be talking to several Americans to get their opinions about the debate. Feel free to listen and join in. How do you do that? Simply click on the following link on your smartphone or computer and join the show: