After a largely criticized first presidential debate and a cancellation of the second, presidential candidates, President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden, took the stage for their final debate last Thursday, Oct. 22. This debate was very important for each candidate, as it was their final major opportunity to present their platforms to undecided voters. The debate, moderated by Kristen Welker, covered topics ranging from the current pandemic to racism in America and was considered by most to be an improvement of the last debate. 

“The second debate was much better in terms of letting people hear more about the issues in a more coherent way,” history teacher Dr. Berk said. “It made it easier to see what the candidates had to say and made it more possible to evaluate their platforms.”

The first issue the candidates debated was the COVID-19 pandemic. Each candidate had two minutes to explain his plan on how to successfully defeat the virus and keep citizens safe. Trump expressed a belief that the spiking cases in states would soon go down and additionally announced that a vaccine was coming by the end of the year. Biden, on the other hand, stated that his plan was to reopen the country as safely as possible. His regulations would include a mask mandate and new safety precautions for public places. 

With the looming threat of foreign interference in this year’s election, the next topic debated on was national security. This portion of the debate turned more into an offensive match between the two candidates. Biden called Trump out on his unreleased tax returns, while Trump attacked Biden with the scandal surrounding his son, Hunter Biden, and the belief that Hunter got money from China.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has left many families in a health crisis, Americans tuned in to hear the candidates discuss their plans for healthcare. Trump stated he planned to terminate Obamacare and replace it with his own healthcare plan. Biden, on the other hand, told Americans he wanted to improve upon Obamacare and ensure healthcare for all. For some viewers, however, the little amount of time spent on actual plans for healthcare was not enough. 

“I would have preferred more time to be spent talking about healthcare,” Dr. Berk said. “I don’t think the potential stimulus bill was addressed as much as I would have liked.” 

The recent surge in the Black Lives Matter movement has put the topic of race in many Americans’ minds, thus the subject of racism was heavily deliberated in the debate. Biden argued that racism is indeed institutional and that people of color should have better economic and educational opportunities. Trump took the offense and pointed out how Biden’s passage of the Crime Bill in 1994 put many African American men in prison. 

Perhaps the most poignant conversation of the night was the topic of the crisis going on at the Mexican border. Last week, it was reported that the parents of around 545 kids who were separated from their families at the border could not be located. Biden seized the moment to berate the negligence of the Trump Administration and their former Zero Tolerance policy, while Trump tried to turn the blame back onto the Obama administration. 

“Honestly, I feel like this topic was a perfect summary of the entire debate, in the sense that both candidates relied on a ‘safety argument’ to fall back on,” junior Ryan Daunt said. “President Trump’s safety argument was clearly his attack on Former Vice President Biden’s lack of results in his time in office, while Former Vice President Biden’s safety argument was an appeal to emotion to everyone who has suffered under President Trump’s administration.”

With many scientists saying climate change will soon be irreversible, the candidates were given the opportunity in the final topic of the night to explain their plans to stop climate change. Trump used his time to defend his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Accord and criticize Biden’s climate plan. Biden firmly asserted his belief in climate change and promised to help America transition away from the oil industry to a cleaner energy source. 

“I felt the topic of climate change was handled the best,” junior Danielle Collins said. “You could see their opinions clearly, and there were less personal attacks.” 

With Election Night in less than two weeks, this debate allowed both decided and undecided voters to see the policies and beliefs of the two candidates. Now only time will tell who’s performance paved a way to the White House.