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Trump, Biden close with final pitch to voters ahead of Nov. 3

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Trump and Biden closed the debate with their final pitch to voters on why they should win their support on Nov. 3.

Trump said his administration is "on the road to success."

"We have to make our country totally successful as it was prior to the plague coming in from China," Trump said. 

Trump said he's cutting taxes and Biden wants to raise them and "put new regulations on everything."

"If he gets in, you will have a depression, the likes of which you have never seen," he said. "Your 401Ks will go to hell and it will be a very sad day for this country. 

Biden promised that voters that "I'm going to give you hope."

"We're going to choose science over fiction. We're going to move forward because we have enormous opportunities to make things better," Biden said. "What's on the ballot here is the character of this country, decency, respect. I'm going to make sure you get that, you haven't been getting that the last four years."

Biden says he'd curb reliance on oil industry 

Former Vice President Joe Biden vowed Thursday that he'd "transition from the oil industry" if elected president and replace it with renewable energy over time, and "by 2050 totally."

Biden made the remarks after being pressed by Trump whether he would "close down the oil industry" during an exchange over the impacts of the manufacturing in certain communities. 

"The oil industry pollutes, significantly," Biden said. "And I'd stop giving them federal subsidies."

"He won't give federal subsidies to the solar and wind," Biden said of Trump.

Trump responded: "Basically, what he is saying is he's going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio?"

Just prior to the exchange, Trump played up his efforts to save the oil industry when it was crashing, saying now "it's very vibrant again."

But Biden said residents in those front-line communities are dying and restrictions on pollutants must be imposed.

President Donald Trump speaks during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Trump, Biden debate Black Lives Matter movement

Trump reiterated Thursday his efforts to support Black colleges and universities, criminal justice reforms and opportunity zones, saying he's "the least racist person in this room."

He said his first glimpse of the Black Lives Matter movement was negative, with group members chanting about police, 'pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon.'"

"I thought it was a terrible thing," Trump said, but added he has a "great relationship with all people."

Biden accused Trump of being "one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history."

"He has made everything worse across the board," Biden said. 

Biden noted Trump's past controversial comments of the far-right group Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."

"This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn," Biden said. 

Trump also raised Biden's support of a 1994 crime bill that critics have said resulted in the mass incarceration of racial minorities in recent decades 

Elizabeth Allin, left, and Gideon Lett sit in a convertible while watching President Donald Trump, on left of video screen, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a Presidential Debate Watch Party at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

Biden, Trump debate implications of immigration crackdown

Trump tackled questions about the separation of immigrant children from their families at the border during a crackdown in recent years, about 500 of which still haven't been united. 

Trump claimed the children are brought here by “lots of bad people” who “used to use them to get into our country.”

He touted his security improvements, including more than 400 miles of a new border wall.

“We’re trying very hard,” Trump said of efforts to reunite the children with their families.

“They are so well taken care of,” Trump said. “They are in facilities that are so clean.”

Biden said the kids were separated to disincentive to come to begin with and the lack of reunion with families is "criminal."

“They separated from their parents and it makes us a laughing stock and violates every motion of who we are as a nation,” Biden said. “Those kids are alone with nowhere to go. It’s criminal.”

Within 100 days of being elected president, Biden said he would send to Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people.

"We owe them," Biden said. 

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., with President Donald Trump.

Trump, Biden debate future of Affordable Care Act

Trump addressed on Thursday the prospect of 20 million Americans losing health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is overturned by the Supreme Court.

The president said he's already made improvements to Obamacare and said "no matter how you run it, it's no good."

Trump wants to terminate the act and "come up with a brand new, beautiful health care plan."

The plan, he said, will always protect people with preexisting conditions and talked about "great" private healthcare plans."

"Joe Biden is going to terminate all of those polices," the president said. "We have done an incredible job on healthcare and we're going to do even better."

Biden said Trump has never come up with a plan to cover preexisting conditions. 

"I guess we're going to have a preexisting condition plan at the same time we get the infrastructure plan ... ," he said. 

"We're going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there's competition that doesn't exist now by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with insurance companies," Biden added. 

Biden said Trump "is a guy who tried to cut Medicare" and "tried to hurt Social Security" years ago.

"The idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on Social Security and Medicare, come on," Biden said. 

President Donald Trump during the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden, Trump debate foreign influence in elections

On election security, Biden said he’s made it clear that any country that interferes in our elections will “pay a price.”

“It’s clear Russia has been involved, China too to some degree,” Biden said. “They will pay a price if I’m elected. They’re interfering with American sovereignty.”

Biden contends Trump, in contrast, has been silent.

 “I don’t know why he hasn’t said a word to Putin about it,” Biden said. 

Trump in response asserted that Biden has taken money from foreign countries, accusing Biden of “getting a lot of money from Russia.”

“They were paying you a lot of money and they probably still are,” the president said, also referencing the release of emails involving alleged corrupt practices in Ukraine and China by Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Trump called the emails “horrible” and accused Biden and his family of raking in money.

“I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life,” Biden told Trump.

Biden shot back, referencing a report about secret bank accounts held by Trump referenced in a recent news article.

“Nobody has made money from China but this guy,” Biden said of Trump.

Trump said he had a bank account in China and "everybody knows about it" but he's closed it. 

"I had an account open and I closed it," Trump said. "I closed it before I even ran for for president."

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden walk on stage during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Trump praises moderator 

President Donald Trump is offering rare praise to a member of the media: the moderator of the final presidential debate.

Trump told moderator Kristen Welker on Thursday evening: “So far I respect very much the way you are handling this, I have to say.”

The praise for Welker comes after Trump attacked her on Twitter over the weekend.

She has “always been terrible and unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters,” he tweeted at the time.

Trump has repeatedly fought with, belittled or denigrated members of the media during his tenure in office.

That included CBS New correspondent Lesley Stahl, with whom the president bickered repeatedly during an interview for “60 Minutes,” which he abruptly cut off.

Trump complained that the interview was unfair and released footage of it earlier Thursday.

Biden, Trump spar on prospect of future COVID-19 shutdowns

Trump insisted that nationwide lockdowns to combat spread of COVID-19 are devastating and the safety protocols imposed are “not the answer.”

Trump pointed to New York, saying “people are leaving” and “it’s dying.”

"We’re not going to have a country. You can’t do this. We can’t keep this country closed. People are losing their jobs, they’re committing suicide, there’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level we’ve never seen before," Trump said. "The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. He’ll close down the country if one person in our massive bureaucracy says ‘close it down.'”

In regard to Michigan, where Trump has clashed with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the president told Biden “take a look at your friend in Michigan."

Biden countered that he won’t necessarily rule out another shutdown if it’s warranted.

Biden said Trump didn’t reveal the seriousness of the virus because “he didn’t want us to panic.”

"we ought to be able to safely open," Biden said. 

President Donald Trump gestures toward Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Trump said COVID-19 vaccine on the way, spars with Biden on seriousness of virus

President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden pleasantly greeted each other Thursday night as they took the stage for their final debate.

The night launched immediately into leading the country through the COVID-19 crisis, with Trump telling the crowd "we're fighting it" and stressing that a vaccine is on the way.

"We have a vaccine that's coming, it's ready. it's going to be announced within weeks," said Trump, noting he "had it for a very short period of time and I got better very fast."

"It will go away," he said. "We're rounding the corner, it's going away," said Trump, who noted that they expect to have "100 million vials as soon as we have a vaccine ready to go."

Biden followed, saying there are over 1,000 deaths per day and over 70,000 new case per day and Trump, he said, "has no comprehensive plan."

"The expectation is we'll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year," he said. "If we just wore these masks, as the president's own advisers have told him, we could save lives."

Biden said he'd implement rapid testing and have clear standards for opening up schools and business.

"I will take care of this, I will end this, I will make sure we have a plan," Biden added. 

Biden also accused Trump of downplaying the seriousness of the virus, noting the president has said: “this is all going to be over soon.”

“There’s not another serious scientist that says it’s going to be over soon,” he said. “Even today, he thinks we’re in control. We’re about to lose 200,000 more people.”

Trump said American’s can’t afford to “lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.”

“I caught it, I learned a lot … and now, I recovered,” Trump said. “We have to recover. We can’t close up our nation, or you’re not going to have a nation.”

PGA golfer John Daly, left, and performer Kid Rock, right, take their seats before the start of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Trump, Biden to square off in final debate ahead of Nov. 3 election

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are set Thursday to face off in their final debate, less than two weeks ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Biden stepped off the campaign trail to prepare for the match-up inside Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., while Trump — trailing in the polls in some battle ground states — continued with stops in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. 

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, is a final chance for both candidates to spar on the same stage before a national televised audience. 

Both campaigns have had a heavy presence in Michigan in recent days.

On Monday, Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, made visits to Grand Rapids and Alto, while son Eric Trump visited Lansing and Willis. On Monday, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made three stops across Michigan for Biden while the candidate's wife, Jill Biden, made four stops on Tuesday, including three in Metro Detroit that ended with a Dearborn rally aimed at energizing Arab American voters. 

Vice President Mike Pence held earlier Thursday a rally in Oakland County, calling on Biden to give a "straight answer" ahead of the evening debate on whether he'll expand the U.S. Supreme Court in Michigan. 

Speaking at a rally at Barnstormers near the Oakland County International Airport, Pence repeated his argument that an effort, floated by some Democrats, to add seats to the nine-member court and appoint liberal justices would be the biggest power grab in American history.

Biden has said he's not a fan of "court packing" but hasn't given a definitive answer on whether he would support such a move.

Pence also focused on the Supreme Court, predicting that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the conservative appeals court judge whom Trump nominated to fill deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat, would join the high court next week.

President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, take the stage for the start of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

New debate shutoff rule

The Supreme Court was among the key topics that Trump and Biden addressed in their first debate in late September, which featured frequent interruptions and snipes between the candidates.

Days later, Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was subsequently hospitalized. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates ruled based on the circumstances that a second planned debate be held virtually. The president rejected the format, prompting the debate to be canceled. The two instead last week held dueling town halls. 

Trump tested negative for the virus on the plane ride to the debate, according to pool reports. 

To limit interruptions Thursday night, Trump and Biden each will have their microphones cut off while the other candidate delivers their opening statement as well as answers to each of the six debate topics. 

The mute button is among the changes implemented by the nonpartisan debate commission to help ensure a better sense of safety and order following the raucous opening debate 23 days ago.

Additionally, any audience member who refuses to wear a mask will be removed, organizers report. Last month, several members of the Trump family removed their masks once seated in the debate hall.

About 200 people will be inside the arena, including invited guests of the campaigns and the debate commission, students, security and health and safety staff. 

All audience members and support staff will be socially distanced and were required to undergo coronavirus testing onsite within three days of the event.

Preparations take place for the second Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

Trump releases '60 Minutes' video

Trump on Thursday leaked footage from a not-yet-aired "60 Minutes" interview, which included his denial of saying he would lock up Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Trump made the denial when asked about the "lock her up" chants at his rallies, usually directed at the Democratic former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton but most recently aimed at Whitmer during a Saturday rally in Muskegon.

The rally came not long after federal and state authorities charged multiple men in connection with an alleged kidnapping plot targeting Whitmer over her restrictive COVID-19 orders. 

Trump, in footage from an interview he leaked Thursday, denied claims he had ever advocated to have Whitmer locked up. 

"I never said lock up the governor of Michigan," he said, arguing it was a "vicious thing" to suggest. "I would never say that. Why would I say that?"

Whitmer eased her strictest executive orders, a stay-home directive, in the late spring. The remainder of her orders were overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court Oct. 2.

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

Whitmer weighs in on muted mics

Whitmer, in a Thursday night interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, said she was glad that mics will be muted for Biden and Trump's latest debate.

“That first debate was just horrendous, the way that the president over-talked and it was hard to understand what the candidates were saying because of the president’s continuous talking," she told Blitzer. 

Whitmer said Biden needs to just be himself to come out on top in the debate. 

“Joe Biden gets it and when he shows up and he is himself, people love him, people believe in him," she said. 

Biden’s campaign says he's ready for a confrontation with Trump during the debate over allegations of corruption against Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

At rallies and in interviews before the debate, Trump has made clear that he intends to focus the forum on airing allegations that Hunter Biden engaged in corrupt practices in Ukraine and China.

Whitmer said Biden must respond to those attacks "like a dad."

"I’m a mom. If someone attacked my child, I would have a strong reaction but it would be out of love. I think that people see that when he talks about his family. He is a family man. He is a true American leader who sees the humanity in others," she said.

“When President Trump attacks him for his son, I think it will backfire because parents everywhere see the genuine concern of a parent and anyone who has a loved one who’s had addiction issues, which is the vast majority of us, including me, knows that it is support and it is love that helps keep families together," Whitmer added. 

cferretti@detroitnews.com

Detroit News Staff Writers Beth LeBlanc and Craig Mauger contributed. The Associated Press contributed.