President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden squared off at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday for their final debate ahead of the 2020 election, and the atmosphere was—shall we say—tense. After the pugnacity of the previous debate, moderator Kristen Welker was forced to remind the candidates, “The goal is for you to hear each other,” which…does not augur good things about our republic’s future.
The first topic of the night was, predictably, COVID-19, with Trump promising a vaccine and repeatedly stating “I’m immune” after his own hospitalization:
It took Trump less than 10 seconds to lie. #Debates2020
— TheClubShamer (@KirkWrites79) October 23, 2020
That vaccine has been "coming in weeks" for 6 months. #Debates2020
— Travon Free (@Travon) October 23, 2020
NO ONE CALLS IT A CURE
NO ONE SAYS HE’S IMMUNE
— Esther Choo, MD MPH (@choo_ek) October 23, 2020
Biden’s use of the word “xenophobic” to describe Trump came as a welcome moment of frankness for those sick of hearing the sitting president refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “China’s fault”:
Trump is xenophobic
— Marti Gould Cummings (@MartiGCummings) October 23, 2020
He called the fucker xenophobic. Good.
— Myriam Chingona Gurba de Serrano (@lesbrains) October 23, 2020
The night quickly spawned a Trumpism for the ages:
“I take full responsibility. It’s China’s fault.” #Debates2020
— Tiffany Cabán (@tiffany_caban) October 23, 2020
"I take full responsibility. It's not my fault." – literal Trump quote.
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) October 23, 2020
Trump’s invocation of New York as a “ghost town” wasn’t particularly well-received by New Yorkers:
trump just called new york “my beautiful city” but i much preferred when we were an anarchist jurisdiction
— katie krzaczek (@hashtagkatie) October 23, 2020
love my lil ghost town that could have been saved with actual pandemic assistance
— isha patnaik (@ishapatnaik) October 23, 2020
Coming out as a ghost
— whembley (@whembleysewell) October 23, 2020
An interminable discussion of taxes culminated in Trump referring to Biden as “the big man”:
i for one did not know you could treat your taxes like a burner phone
— raki horror picture show (@rakiwane) October 23, 2020
omg tr*mp being like "i prepaid my taxes" like they're his study abroad nokia phone
— juli del tweet (@julibelle) October 23, 2020
Fact-check: Clarence Clemons is the Big Man.
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 23, 2020
Biden just couldn’t help himself from using the word “malarkey”:
o shit busting out malarkey
— Gina Mei (@ginamei) October 23, 2020
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) October 23, 2020
Welker’s moderation—stern when necessary, but in control of the debate nonetheless, arguably more so than either candidate—earned her plaudits:
When @kwelkernbc snaps, "Ok. Ok." and makes them stop talking, I feel a ripple of genuine fear
— mattie kahn (@mattiekahn) October 23, 2020
wow, a moderated debate
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) October 23, 2020
Welker even managed to coin an instant-classic line of her own, responding “But you’re the president” when Trump characteristically began to blame Nancy Pelosi:
“But you’re the President.” This moderator is great at concise interjections.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) October 23, 2020
“but you’re the president” lmao got em
— no ❤️ (@bijanstephen) October 23, 2020
A well-timed question from Welker about family separation at the border provided ample opportunity for Trump to demonstrate that he has absolutely no plan for reuniting migrant children with their parents:
"do you have a plan to reunite the families?" yes yes yes keep him on this https://t.co/gYDH11RQ6D
— sara li (@saruhli) October 23, 2020
A question about racist policing in America came just after incendiary comments from Trump about some immigrants allegedly having “low IQ”:
Donald Trump called immigrants racists and criminals and said those who came to their court hearings have low IQs. He is a racist and a white supremacist who knows exactly what he is saying and who he is saying to it to.
— Evette Dionne (@freeblackgirl) October 23, 2020
It's disgusting to watch two white male leaders not take responsibility for building up prisons and detention centers in this country no matter how you slice it. Even worse to constantly see how Black and brown folks are still nothing but political fodder for them.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) October 23, 2020
Trump’s avowal that he is “the least racist person in this room” drew ire, as did the inherent racism of lumping the concerns of Black voters in with the criminal justice system:
“I’m the least racist person in this room.”
-DONALD TRUMP IN FRONT OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN MODERATOR
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) October 23, 2020
me, winning the least racist in the room award pic.twitter.com/tJpUsidEJ8
— Jacob Gallagher (@jacobwgallagher) October 23, 2020
fun fact: as a concept black people also exist outside of prisons
— ziwe (@ziwe) October 23, 2020
The inability to discuss the concerns of black voters without talking about crime
— Brit Bennett (@britrbennett) October 23, 2020
Ultimately, the night was stressful and seemingly never-ending; in other words, it was a typical presidential debate featuring President Donald Trump. On the plus side, at least we won’t have to suffer through another one of these before the election.