WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden met for the second and last time on a debate stage after a previously scheduled town hall debate was scrapped after the Republican incumbent became one of the millions of Americans to contract the coronavirus.
For Trump, the matchup at Tennessee’s Belmont University on Thursday was perhaps the final opportunity to change the dynamics of a race dominated, much to his chagrin, by his response to the pandemic and its economic fallout. For Biden, it was 90 minutes to solidify an apparent lead less than two weeks before the election.
Here are key takeaways:
COVID-19 STILL A DRAG FOR TRUMP
Trump’s difficulty articulating a defense of his handling of the coronavirus remains a drag on his campaign. The opening topic of the debate was entirely predictable — Trump has received variations of the same question in interviews and has rarely delivered a clear answer.
Asked to outline his plan for the future, Trump instead asserted his prior handling was without fault and predicted a rosy reversal to the pandemic, which has killed more than 223,000 people in the United States.
“We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner,” Trump claimed, even as cases spike again across the country. “It’s going away.”