Thursday night marked the last presidential debate before the arrival of the November election. NBC News anchor and correspondent Kristen Welker moderated the event, which 63 million Americans tuned in to watch, 10 million fewer than the first. Similar to the first presidential debate and the following vice-presidential debate, Thursday’s event covered topics including climate, race, the coronavirus pandemic, and national security. The New York Times called it “civil, calm, sedate, substantive (at times) and, almost, even normal” on both sides.
The Right believes Trump was the clear winner. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called Trump “both better prepared and more disciplined” than his first debate performance, and journalist Megyn Kelly said he was “substantive, on-point, well-tempered.” Washington Examiner commentary writer Tiana Lowe argued that Biden sealed his fate in the swing state of Pennsylvania, after declaring he would “transition from the oil industry” because of pollution – a move that would affect roughly 5% of the state’s working force. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said that the debate displayed Trump’s forward-moving vision, while exposing Biden’s goal to undo everything Trump has accomplished: “Trump is right — everything that he has done over the past four years is at stake on Nov. 3. Our country simply can’t afford to take a step backward to the disastrous Obama era, which is exactly what electing Biden would mean.”
Joe Biden: “I don’t look at this like he does—blue states and red states. I view them as the United States… Look at the states with the worst spikes. They’re red states.” I screamed.— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) October 23, 2020
The Left believes Biden won unequivocally. USA Today‘s Editorial Board wrote that Trump “had no good answer” for numerous of the moderator’s questions, and CNN’s Chris Cillizza argued that Biden “managed to land the best lines” multiple times throughout the night. White House reporter Kevin Liptak agreed, arguing that “[Trump] still enters the sessions relying primarily on his instincts as a brawler and doesn’t prepare nearly as much as his adversaries.” Vox news’ Nicole Narea, referring to Welker’s question about immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border, wrote that Trump “took the opportunity to air his xenophobic views of immigrants, falsely claiming that the affected children were brought to the US by smugglers known as ‘coyotes,’ cartels, gangs and ‘lots of bad people.'”