Final 2020 presidential debate

By Meg Wagner, Kyle Blaine, Jessica Estepa, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 2:27 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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2:27 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Trump: "Joe, I ran because of you"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

President Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden listens during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville.
President Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden listens during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville. Morry Gash/Pool/AP

President Trump slammed former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama for doing a "poor job" during their two terms in the White House.

"Joe, I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama. Because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job, I would have never run," Trump said.

As Biden talked about his policy plan on race and criminal justice reform, Trump accused the former vice president of doing "nothing" during his tenure in the White House.

"Why didn't you do that four years ago, even less than that? You were the vice president. You keep talking about all these things you're going to do. But you were there just a short time ago and you guys did nothing," Trump added.

Watch the moment:

10:40 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Biden says he understands why people of color fear their children could be targeted by police 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday during the presidential debate that he understands why people of color fear that their children could be targeted by police because of the color of their skin.

The moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker, described "the talk" that many Black and brown parents in America have with their children.

“It happens regardless of class and income — parents who feel they have no choice but to prepare their children for the chance that they could be targeted, including by the police, for no reason other than the color of their skin,” Welker said.  

“Mr. Vice President, in the next two minutes, I want you to speak directly to these families,” Welker continued. “Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?

“I do,” Biden responded, adding that his daughter is a social worker who has written about this topic. 

“I never had to tell my daughter if she's pulled over make sure she puts, for a traffic stop, put both hands on top of the wheel and don't reach for the glove box because someone might shoot you,” Biden said. 

He continued, “But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or poor they are, has to teach their child when you're walking down the street don't have a hoodie on when you go across the street, making sure you in fact if you get pulled over, yes, sir, no, sir, hands on top of the wheel, because you are in fact the victim whether you're a … person making $300,000 a year person or someone who's on food stamps.”

“The fact of the matter is there is institutional racism in America,” Biden said. 

Here's the moment:

2:26 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

How Trump and Biden compare on the climate crisis

From CNN's Mackenzie Happe and Kate Sullivan

People watch from their vehicles as President Donald Trump, on left of video screen, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speak during a Presidential Debate Watch Party at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, on Thursday.
People watch from their vehicles as President Donald Trump, on left of video screen, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speak during a Presidential Debate Watch Party at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, on Thursday. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The candidates are being asked about the climate crisis and their campaign proposals on the topic.

Here's a look at how they compare on this policy issue:

  • Joe Biden in July 2020 proposed spending $2 trillion over four years on clean energy projects and ending carbon emissions from power plants by 2035. In a speech detailing the plan, Biden called the threat posed by climate change a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy." The plan marks a clear shift by Biden toward progressives' goals of urgently reducing fossil fuel consumption to combat climate change. Biden's new proposal is more ambitious than the 10-year, $1.7 trillion plan he'd offered during the Democratic primary, which included the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. His proposed 100% clean electricity standard by 2035 is modeled after a proposal initially offered by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and later embraced by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The same aim was included in a series of recommendations recently negotiated by a task force made up of members appointed by Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and co-chaired by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a chief proponent of the Green New Deal.
  • President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord — a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets — was a major blow to the global response to the climate crisis. The decision sent a message to the rest of the world that the US — which can legally leave the agreement as early as 2020 — would not be leading the global fight against climate change. Trump's EPA chief has said that while he believes in climate change, it is not a top priority. The administration shrunk two of Utah's national monuments. It has also pushed to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, as well as waters along the East and Pacific coasts. Under the Trump administration, the EPA announced it would no longer require oil and gas companies to install monitors to detect methane leaks from new wells, tanks and pipelines.
2:24 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

In rare distancing, Biden describes how he would handle immigration differently to Obama

From CNN's Dan Merica

Joe Biden distanced himself from immigration policy during Barack Obama’s presidency on Thursday night, responding to a question about record deportation and a failure to pass immigration reform by saying he would do things differently.

Asked directly why voters should trust him with immigration after eight years under Obama, Biden answered bluntly: “Because we made a mistake. It took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States.”

Obama’s immigration policies were criticized during his two terms in office, leading some immigration advocates to express concerns about how a Biden administration would handle the issue. And Biden’s poll numbers with Latino voters have been lower than past Democratic nominees.

Biden has tried to defend his former administration’s handling of immigration — even though the policy earned Obama the mocking moniker “deporter in chief” — making Thursday comments at the debate notable.

“And the fact is, I’ve made it very clear within 100 days I’m going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people. And all of those so-called dreamers, those DACA kids, they’re going to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship,” Biden said. “The idea that they are being sent home by this guy and they want to do that is they’ve gone to a country they’ve never seen before.”

This is how the question played out:

10:27 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

How Trump and Biden compare on police reform

From CNN's Mackenzie Happe and Kate Sullivan

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday in Nashville.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday in Nashville. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP

President Trump was just asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, which has rallied for police reform across the US.

Here's a look at how the two candidates compare on the issue of police reform:

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he does not support calls to "defund the police," which picked up steam after the police killings of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, as well as others. But he does support some of the principles the phrase's advocates champion. Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates has said that Biden supports "the urgent need for reform -- including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing." Biden's campaign has said he backs proposals to increase spending on social programs separate from local police budgets, but he also wants more funding for police reforms such as body cameras and training on community policing approaches. Biden has called for an additional $300 million in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which would allow more officers to be hired and would pay for training on community policing approaches.
  • President Trump has declared himself "your president of law and order" amid nationwide protests over systemic racism and police brutality in America. He has lambasted efforts to defund police departments and has said police were owed respect for their work. In June, he signed an order to enact modest reforms in a move to confront the outcry over police brutality, including a tracking program that will encourage localities to submit information on officers who have been fired or found in court to have used excessive force. The Justice Department will also direct federal grants toward police departments that are credentialed for having use of force and de-escalation policies and banning the use of chokeholds, except when lethal force is authorized. Working with federal health officials, the department will increase training on programs that pair social workers with police to answer mental health and homelessness calls. The Justice Department's political leadership under the Trump administration has endorsed a policing policy that prioritized stamping out a national uptick in violent crime and boosting the morale of street cops, who the Trump administration claimed had been antagonized under the Obama era.
10:22 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Fact check: Trump falsely claims Joe Biden received $3.5 million from Russia

From CNN's Jeremy Herb 

President Trump claimed that Joe Biden received $3.5 million from Russia and that 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.” 

Facts First: This is false. Trump was seemingly trying to raise an allegation previously made against Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, but there’s no connection to Joe Biden. Hunter Biden also denies the allegation he received $3.5 million. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, told CNN that Hunter Biden was not an owner of the firm Senate Republicans allege received the $3.5 million payment in 2014.  

partisan investigation conducted by Senate Republicans, whose report was released this month, alleged that Elena Baturina, a Russian businesswoman and the wife of late Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, sent $3.5 million in 2014 to a firm called Rosemont Seneca Thornton, and that the payment was identified as a "consultancy agreement." The report did not provide any further details about the transaction. 

Hunter Biden was a co-founder and CEO of the investment firm Rosemont Seneca Advisors. But Mesires said Hunter Biden did not co-found Rosemont Seneca Thornton. It's not clear what connection exists between Rosemont Seneca Advisors and Rosemont Seneca Thornton. 

Neither the Senate report nor Trump have provided any evidence that the payment was corrupt or that Hunter Biden committed any wrongdoing. 

2:23 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

"Bidencare": Biden lays out his health care plan as Obamacare is under attack

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Asked what he would do if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act in November, Joe Biden touted his plan to build on the law, commonly known as Obamacare, by adding a public health insurance option.

It will “become Bidencare,” the former vice president said, suggesting he would seek to pass a beefed up version of the current law.

The nuts and bolts would be the same, but Biden said he wants to put more money into the system and add an option for people to buy-in to a Medicare-like program. A similar idea was originally part of the landmark health care bill passed in 2010, but it was cut out before Obama could sign it into law.

Biden also pushed back against the claim that he wanted to bring socialized medicine to the United States. Biden ran hard against “Medicare for All,” a progressive plan to insure every American as part of a government-run system, during the primary and called Trump’s claim “ridiculous.”

He also framed the public option as just that — an option for people who can’t get covered through work or choose not to purchase plans through private insurers.

The Medicare for All legislation was written by Biden’s primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Trump, when he jumped in, suggested that Biden wasn’t being honest about his plans and pointed, confusingly, to his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, saying she was more liberal than Sanders. Harris dropped her support of Medicare for All during the primary.

After some more back and forth, Biden tried to put a stamp on the conversation.

“People deserve to have affordable health care, period. Period, period, period,” he said. “And the Bidencare proposal will provide for that.”   

Watch the moment:

10:21 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump vs. Biden on immigration: Here's how their stances compare

From CNN's Mackenzie Happe and Kate Sullivan

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday in Nashville.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday in Nashville. Jim Bourg/Pool/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has also called on Congress to immediately grant citizenship to some undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

At the first Democratic presidential debate in June 2019, Biden said that undocumented immigrants with no criminal records "should not be the focus of deportation." In an interview with CNN in July 2019, Biden said he opposes decriminalizing crossing the border without documentation, something other candidates in the field have supported. "I think people should have to get in line, but if people are coming because they're actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case," Biden said.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump proposed the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, and has made it a tenet of his immigration policy as President. After taking office, he issued an executive order suspending the entry of people from a number of Muslim-majority countries for 90 days; the order went through several iterations in court before it was upheld. The administration's "zero tolerance" policy in 2018 — criminal prosecutions of adults who illegally crossed the border — resulted in thousands of family separations at the border as parents were detained.

Under a court order, the government must identify and reunify certain separated children. The President has proposed a merit-based immigration system, establishing a points-based system for green card holders and restricting sponsorship to spouses and minor children. Trump also officially ended Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, a decision that has now been taken to the Supreme Court. In June, the Supreme Court blocked the administration's attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

10:14 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump and Biden respond to recent news of election interference by Iran and Russia

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville. Julio Cortez/AP

Both presidential candidates were asked during Thursday’s debate to respond to the recent news that Iran and Russia obtained US voter registration information in an effort to interfere with the election.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, “I made it clear, that any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price.”

“They will pay a price if I’m elected,” Biden continued, specifically referring to interference by China, Russia and Iran. “They’re interfering with American sovereignty. That’s what’s going on.”

Biden also accused Trump of not confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over election interference efforts and brought up a recent report indicating that the President was warned by his national security adviser that Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was the target of Russian disinformation.

“And then you find out that everything that’s going on here about Russia is wanting to make sure that I do not get elected to the next president of the United States because they know I know them. And they know me. I don’t understand why this President isn’t willing to take on Putin when he’s actually paying bounties to killed American soldiers in Afghanistan,” Biden said.

Asked how he would deal with election interference in a second term, Trump deflected to discussing purported details about Biden’s son’s dealings with Ukraine.

The President also said he was informed of the recent election interference efforts, and underscored Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assessment that the efforts by Iran and Russia and were done to undermine Trump’s candidacy.

“I knew all about that,” Trump said.

Trump claimed Ratcliffe told him, "They both want you to lose, ‘cause there’s been nobody tougher to Russia."

Here's how the question played out: