Debate takeaways: mute buttons get high marks in Trump-Biden faceoff

Memorable lines from Thursday night

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden face off in final debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden squared off in their final debate Thursday night, an affair that was far less chaotic than their prior debacle.

For the first time, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates installed mute buttons on the presidential candidates microphones to keep Biden and Trump from interrupting each other. In their first meeting, Trump continually interrupted Biden and Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

Thursday night’s meeting was intense and full of solid, spirited discourse between the two men, but far more focused.

NBC’s Kristen Welker got high marks across social media for her performance as moderator.

The commission chose six topics for discussion: COVID-19; American families; race in America; climate change; national security; and leadership. The debate was held at Nashville, Tennessee’s Belmont University.

Asked to outline his plan for combatting the coronavirus in the future, Trump asserted his prior handling was without fault and predicted a reversal to the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

“We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner,” Trump claimed, even as cases spike again across the country. “It’s going away.”

Biden, who has sought to prosecute Trump’s handling of the virus in his closing pitch to voters, said, “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” he said.

Biden added: “He says we’re, you know, we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”

Three weeks after drawing bipartisan criticism for his frequent interruptions and badgering of his Democratic rival, Trump adopted a more subdued tone in the early portion of the debate.

The two men had a lengthy back-and-forth about their personal finances and family business entanglements. But on the whole, voters at home got something they didn’t get on Sept. 29: a debate.

Trump repeatedly leveled allegations against Biden and his son Hunter in an attempt to cast his rival and his family as corrupt.

“I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine, you do,” Trump said.

More than 46 million Americans had cast ballots by the time the debate started. Both campaigns acknowledge Biden is has a clear edge for the national popular vote.

But Trump still has a path to a second term, through battleground states, by winning a majority in the Electoral College.

Here’s a look at some of the debate’s memorable lines.