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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Playing slow and steady wins the final presidential debate for Biden

Republican Elephant and the Democrat Donkey icons. The final presidential debate took place on Oct. 22. DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR VIA CC BY-SA 2.0

Steven Keehner is a junior majoring in journalism and history.

It’s often said that time flies by when you’re having fun. Nothing has better proven this statement more than the 2020 Presidential Election, which has been miserable and never-ending.

With that, you can imagine my excitement for covering the final debate between President Donald Trump and his competitor, Joe Biden. Following the cancelation of the second debate after Trump refused to participate virtually, they, for some reason, decided to film simultaneously from town halls on separate television networks.

If there was anything to look forward to during this debate, it was the announcement that a candidate’s mic would be muted. The purpose of this was to to avoid interruptions during certain points of the debate and going over the two-minute mark to answer questions.

For Kristen Welker of NBC News who moderated the debate, it was a really impressive showcase. It was actually a cohesive debate, unlike the anxiety-inducing nightmare that occurred the first time Biden and Trump met on Sept. 29. 

Speaking upon topics that we’ve seen focused on in past debates, like COVID-19, China and the Affordable Care Act, the night fulfilled what it needed to accomplish for the people who have already chosen the candidate they’re voting for. In a similar vein to the Mike Pence and Kamala Harris debate, neither candidate particularly broke any boundaries with their responses.

As Biden looks more and more likely to win the election this November, his job on the night came down to one simple mission: don’t say anything stupid. He accomplished that.

For my soccer fans reading this, Biden played on the counter-attack all night; he sat back and let Trump make his claims, before coming back to dismiss Trump when it made sense to.

Whether it was Trump’s talks of having a vaccine created within the year or claiming that he’s possibly done more to benefit Black Americans than Abraham Lincoln, it astonishes me that people support him. However, when your opponents have been Hillary Clinton and Biden, I can’t say I’m that surprised. 

Something I’ve found to be really impactful that Biden has done during these two debates was his ability to speak directly to the audience. I mentioned this in my review of the first debate, but there’s something about watching someone look straight into the camera that makes their words seem more impactful.

Whether it was him reiterating that any leader who sees 200,000+ dead from COVID-19 shouldn’t be in power or that this was an election based on character, a good impression was left on me.

Surprisingly, Trump failed to mention Biden’s supposed interest in packing the Supreme Court, which has been one of the ticket’s weak points in this cycle due to their lack of transparency. In general, I’m surprised the Supreme Court didn’t get any mentions, as it’s possibly the biggest story in American politics right now.

But even when Trump used Biden’s past mistakes against him, like his destructive 1994 crime bill, the former Vice President admitted that he was wrong, twice. Not that this clears his record and turns him into Christ reborn, but humility has become a trait that has long disappeared in the public sphere.

Both candidates did share plunders at times; the discussion surrounding healthcare was a complete joke, which then turned into a semi-attack against Bernie Sanders. It’s hilarious to see Biden and socialism used in the same statements, but I guess two red scares and decades of anti-leftist propaganda will do that. 

There were also discussions on recent news, like the revelation of Trump’s Chinese bank account, but that ultimately failed to mount into anything noteworthy.

The saddest part of the night came down to race and immigration, where Trump ignored the human rights disaster that is I.C.E. and racial discussions. To hear Biden mention “the talk,” when Black parents speak to their children about potentially being racially profiled, was not something I anticipated hearing about. 

The discussion could’ve been more substantial. I’d be willing to credit the lack of substance to the current debate format which is spread too thin; there are only so many topics you can properly discuss in a mere 90 minutes. Not that this excuses either candidate, but it is what it is.

Like any political debate, there were also a lot of false promises. Discussions on China, tax returns and minimum wage were all laid onto the table, but there wasn’t anything worthwhile included to justify writing about it in further detail.

Climate change was also discussed, but it was hard to take anything either candidate was saying seriously, whether it was Trump going on about windmills or Biden’s support of fracking. As we can see, it’s all two sides of the same coin, my friends.

I’m giving the victory of the night to Biden. He came in with a plan and was prepared to answer everything thrown his way. Trump needed to make a big showing and he failed.

As the debates end and we face the final two weeks until the election occurs, I can only stress the importance of studying up on not only the Presidential but local elections, too.

Also, please vote. Please.

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