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Final Trump-Biden debate marked by clashes but less chaos

Final Trump-Biden Debate Marked By Clashes But Less Chaos

WASHINGTON – After an initial heated debate that led organizers to introduce a mute button, the second and final meeting between US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden was a civil matter.
Whether it was that button this time or the terrible criticism of the first debate – especially for Trump – the candidates cut themselves off much less frequently on the evening of October 22, even as they clashed over issues such as the coronavirus, crime and global warming.
While Trump and Biden have responded to each other’s responses – shaking their heads in disapproval or smiling, in Biden’s case – the two have primarily avoided speaking to each other.
Trump, in particular, was on his best behaviour, especially at the start, and particularly regarding the moderator, whom he had disparaged several times before the debate.
“So far I have a lot of respect for the way you handle this,” Trump told NBC’s Kristen Welker when she gave him time to respond to Biden at one point.
The stage inside the sparsely populated college arena was representative of the stage performance. The audience followed the rules exactly as expected – they were remarkably quiet throughout the 90-minute debate, and everyone appeared to be wearing masks.
Due to the pandemic, only about 200 people were seated in the debate room at Belmont University in Nashville, and this included a representative of the Committee on Presidential Debates, tasked with ensuring that each candidate has a full two minutes of uninterrupted time to provide introductory answers on six major topics, according to Debates Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf.
A member of each of the Trump and Biden campaigns monitored who controlled the mute button behind the scenes, Fahrenkopf told the Associated Press, noting that the button would not be used beyond the first four minutes of each topic.
The button was one of a handful of changes implemented by the Non-Partisan Debating Committee to help ensure a more orderly debate after the loud and widely criticized opening debate 23 days ago.
Coronavirus restrictions also remained in place, with participants required to wear masks at all times and members of the public distant.
Organizers originally planned to separate candidates with plexiglass barriers, but the barrier was removed hours before the debate began.
A Trump campaign official said the decision was made after White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, called Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, during a virtual visit site.
Meadows put Fauci on speakerphone, and Fauci told those in the room that all a barrier would do was provide a false sense of security, the official said.
The debate committee also tightened its rules on masks, with organizers saying any member of the public who refused to wear one would be removed.
Last month, several members of the Trump family removed their masks while seated in the debate room, but were allowed to stay.
This time, First Lady Melania Trump, appearing in public for the first time since her diagnosis of coronavirus, along with other members of the Trump family wore masks throughout.
Before the start of the debate, Fahrenkopf repeated the instruction to the general public.
“If you don’t go, you will be escorted,” he said.
Fahrenkopf had said in a previous interview that the security measures would help reduce the risk of infection.
“The attitude of the Trump campaign was that the president was no longer contagious, but we were going to follow our medical advisers,” he said.
As a result, the president of Belmont University called it “America’s safest place tonight.”
The university, a quaint institution of more than 8,200 students just one mile from Nashville’s Music Row, also hosted a town hall-style debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in 2008.
There was a much smaller audience this time around.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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