Almost there folks. Election day is now less than a month away (although mail-in ballots mean we may not have the results for several days, sigh).
And last night, the final presidential debate took place in Nashville between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
With the threat of a ‘mute’ button installed, it was a more ordered affair than the previous one.
But that didn’t stop the participants (OK, Trump) using their time to make a litany of false or baffling claims.
Here’s 15 of the most jaw-dropping moments from the third and final debate.
1. When Trump entered without a mask
Trump enters without a mask. Biden enters with one. And the final 2020 presidential debate is under way. https://t.co/tHBFTrvQMv— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603415157
Now Trump has officially had coronavirus, he’s been boasting about his fabled “immunity” to the deadly virus.
Apparently that means he no longer things he has to wear a mask when out and about.
2. When Trump claimed the US has so many coronavirus cases because of good testing
"We have the best testing in the world by far. That's why we have so many cases" -- Trump (in fact the US has so ma… https://t.co/YAdnxFhoWn— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603416281
Apparently, the 8.4m coronavirus cases the US has recorded since the start of the pandemic aren’t the result of failed policy. It actually just means the testing is really good. At least according to Trump.
“We have the best testing in the world so far,” he claimed. “That’s why we have so many cases”.
3. When Trump tried to claim he “pre-paid” millions of dollars in tax
Trump pushes back on the NYT's report that he only paid $750 in federal taxes by claiming he "prepaid" millions of… https://t.co/oovHDIgZus— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603416893
It’s clear Trump is unhappy about his tax returns being leaked to the New York Times – he tried to claim that his businesses are worth “millions”, despite what the documents show.
As for why he only paid $750 dollars in tax (when he actually did pay it)? Well Trump says he prepaid “millions” in tax and that’s why his returns were so low.
“I asked them last week, ‘What did I pay?’”, Trump claimed. “And they said ‘Sir, you prepaid tens of millions of dollars’, I prepaid my tax”.
He also claimed he’d release his tax returns officially soon.
4. When Trump claimed that migrant children trying to cross the border are brought to the US by “coyotes”
Q: The US can't locate the parents of more than 500 children who were separated from them. How will they be reunite… https://t.co/YAkgOEqcA1— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603418698
When asked how he’d reunite children separated from their parents at the border, Trump gave a baffling answer, saying:
Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, like cartels.
We now have a stronger border than we have ever had.
This all sounds strangely familiar…
And no, he did not answer the question.
5. When he said only people with the “lowest IQs” follow the law
"Only the reaaaaaallllllly-- I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ. They might come back." -- Trump https://t.co/RWfbAt68ff— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603418953
An insight into Donald Trump’s worldview that no one asked for – he claimed that only immigrants with the “lowest IQs” would show up for court proceedings when necessary.
So if Donald Trump thinks that smart people break the law and also considers himself a very smart man… what conclusion can we draw?
Something to think about.
6. When Trump repeated his claim about doing more for the Black community than anyone else
"Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump" -- totally absurd https://t.co/tnWRFyflEM— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603419217
One of Trump’s favourite new claims and one he really seems to believe.
Once again Trump decided to state that no one else – bar ol’ Abe Lincoln – has done more for Black Americans than him.
“No one has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump announced during the debate, citing “criminal justice reform” as his reasoning, whatever that means.
Given that the unemployment rate for Black Americans is 4.6 per cent higher than the national average and Black households still have an income gap of roughly $31,000 in comparisons to white counterparts, the claim doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.
7. When there was a stand-off about wind
"He thinks wind causes cancer. Windmills" -- Biden "I know more about wind than you do," Trump responds. https://t.co/DaN2CpJchJ— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603420281
When covering their climate plans (or lack thereof in Trump’s case), Biden joked that Trump believes “wind causes cancer” (he has in fact, claimed that wind turbine noise can cause cancer, which isn’t true).
Trump was ready with a retort however, saying:
I know more about wind than you do.
Certainly he has experience with a load of hot air.
8. When Trump said his inaugural speech would be about the “plague”
Asked what he'll say during his next inaugural speech to people who didn't vote for him, Trump says, "We have to ma… https://t.co/j65gyGgyAi— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603420582
When asked about what he would say during his inaugural speech if re-elected, Trump decided the vision that he would set out for Americans who did not vote for him would be about “the plague”.
“We have to make our country totally successful as it was prior to the plague coming in from China,” he said.
That’s one way to win support from doubters.
9. When Biden called Trump “Abraham Lincoln” and roundly confused him
Biden sarcastically refers to Trump as "Abraham Lincoln," and Trump gets confused by it https://t.co/Ogdt1QXf3g— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603419727
Sarcasm is apparently a no-go for Trump; when Biden sardonically referred to him as “Abraham Lincoln”, he was clearly thrown.
“You made a reference to Abraham Lincoln, where did that come in?” he asked. After Biden explained the joke, he said “I didn’t say I was Abraham Lincoln”.
If previous White House correspondents’ dinners hadn’t already shown that Trump does not like being made fun of, here’s more proof.
10. When Trump outlined some baffling climate change goals
Asked about climate change, Trump begins by talking about the federal government's tree program and says "what I wa… https://t.co/93X69nfOCm— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603419939
How does a man who pulled his country out of one of the biggest climate change agreements in history defend his police to fight global warming?
In confusing fashion.
When asked to outline his plan for climate change and supporting job growth, Trump spewed some strange ideas.
“We have the tree program, we have so many different programs,” he said. “I do love the environment but what I want is the crystal clean water, the cleanest air”.
11. When Trump tried to claim that Biden didn’t really have ties to Scranton
"The idea that the stock market is booming -- it's his only measure of what's happening. Where I come from in Scran… https://t.co/H0YVFFmQhe— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603418287
Biden referenced his hometown of Scranton, Claymont, his love of which is well-documented.
But Trump decided to challenge this, saying “He doesn’t come from Scranton, he lived there for a short period of time”.
WHile it’s true Biden only lived permanently in Scranton until he was 13, he spent most of his summers as a young adult there while growing up. He made so many regular trips back there and was involved with local politics to the degree that he’s been referred to as Pennsylvania’s “third Senator”.
12. When Trump started talking about fracking during a healthcare question
Trump, who clearly doesn't want to talk about health care because he has no plan, tries unsuccessfully to steer the… https://t.co/YUt5O24wNk— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603418120
What do you do when you haven’t got a healthcare plan? Talk about fracking. Cool.
13. When Trump said there was “no one tougher” on Russia than him
Trump tries to gaslight people into believing that Russia wants him to lose https://t.co/EDlWbR9VEC— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603416679
In a bid to distance himself from Russia and evidence of 2016 election interference, Trump attempted to claim that actually, he and Mr Putin were on the outs because he sold military weapons to Ukraine.
“There’s nobody tougher than me on Russia [...] While [Biden] was selling pillows and sheets, I was selling tank busters to Ukraine”.
14. When Trump blamed Dr Fauci for downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic
"I think he's a Democrat" -- Trump devotes some time to attacking Dr. Fauci https://t.co/h3vROhRkEe— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1603416387
Trump attempted to shift blame for the coronavirus crisis the way of top doctor Antony Fauci.
“I think he’s a Democrat,” he said, before blaming Fauci for apparently downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. “He said ‘Don’t wear a mask,’ he said ‘This is not going to be a problem’”.
Fauci did indeed say there was no need to wear a mask in March, due to a shortage of PPE for medical workers, which he's held his hands up to. By June, he was telling Americans that they should be wearing protective face coverings. At the same time, Trump was saying people were wearing masks out of personal dislike of him.
15. When Melania batted Trump’s hand away (or did she?)
These small and silent moments tell us all we need to know sometimes. https://t.co/0KLwxmFO0M— Ben Meiselas (@Ben Meiselas) 1603431054
As the President and the First Lady (who wore a mask) walked off, there was an apparent moment of tension as Melania resisted Trump’s attempt to continue holding her hand, seemingly snatching it empathetically away.