By Susana Samhan
Nashville, US, Oct 22 (EFE).- United States President Donald Trump and White House Democratic candidate Joe Biden met for their second and final face-to-face debate Thursday, displaying irreconcilable differences on almost every issue including the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration and racism.
The tone of the debate was nothing like that of the first, which was held on Sep. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, and marked by multiple interruptions, especially from Trump, and a very tense atmosphere that led to the microphone being muted at Thursday’s event during some moments.
The event in Nashville was also tense but in general the rules were respected and, although there was an occasional interruption, they did not break the pace of the debate.
Both candidates exhibited completely opposite views such as on the Trump administration’s policy that separated migrant families at the border.
“These 500-plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with,” said Biden.
Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president between 2009 and 2017, was referring to reports this week that, more than two years after implementing the policy that separated undocumented immigrant families at the Mexican border, the lawyers handling the case have yet to locate the parents of at least 545 minors.
“It’s criminal,” lamented Biden while Trump argued that his government is “trying very hard” to locate the parents.
This is not true as lawyers and human rights organizations have been appointed by a court to look for the parents of the 545 children.
“They (the children) are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean,” Trump added.
The president also asserted that the children had been brought by “coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels” to which Biden responded, saying “coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents.”
In an attempt to defend himself, Trump tried to criticize Obama administration’s immigration policy.
“They built the cages. Who built the cages, Joe?” he asked.
“It just shows that he has no understanding of immigration, of the laws. Catch and release is a disaster. A murderer would come in. A rapist would come in. A very bad person would come in…. those with the lowest IQ, they might come back,” Trump said.
Another issue that revealed their differences was the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, of which both painted a very different picture.
Trump tried to draw upon his experience of having had the disease.
“And now they say I’m immune. Whether it’s four months or a lifetime, nobody’s been able to say that, but I’m immune. More and more people are getting better,” said Trump, who announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the first debate with Biden, leading to the cancellation of the second debate, scheduled to be held on Oct. 15 in Miami.
“It will go away. And as I say, we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” he added.
The president also declared that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon be ready.
“I think within a matter of weeks and it will be distributed very quickly,” Trump said.
When pushed by the moderator of the debate, Kristen Welker, the president acknowledged that he could not “guarantee” that the vaccine will be available within weeks but quickly added that “it will be by the end of the year,” despite many scientists saying it could take until 2021.
Biden, on the other hand, presented a more somber scenario and said that “anyone (who) is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” referring to the more than 222,000 people who have died in the US due to the pandemic.
“We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter and he has no clear plan” against COVID-19, Biden added.
The pair took advantage of the segment on racism to accuse each other of having further harmed the African-American community.
Trump claimed that he has been the president who has done the most for the black community in the country’s history with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery in 1863.
“I have great relationships with all. I think I am the least racist person in the room,” he said.
Biden, for his part, reviewed Trump’s record of racist comments and recalled that in 1989 he advocated the death penalty for a group of African-American teenagers known as the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a crime they did not commit.
Trump, however, insisted on accusing Biden of having used his political position to receive money from foreign governments directly or indirectly.
“If this stuff is true about Russia, Ukraine, China, other countries, Iraq. If this is true, then he’s a corrupt politician,” he said.
“What he’s saying is a bunch of garbage,” replied the Democrat, who had already denied the accusations a few minutes earlier, to which Trump responded by saying “don’t give me the stuff about how you’re this innocent baby.” EFE