Trump vs Biden: quotes, claims and reaction to final presidential debate ahead of 2020 US Election - and what the polls say now

The muting of microphones and the steady hand of moderator Kristen Welker resulted in a less chaotic debate between Trump and Biden

President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden went head-to-head in a TV debate for the last time this campaign.

The pair duelled over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race during a debate that was far less heated than the previous, though personal insults were traded.

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The debate came 11 days ahead of election day with the former vice-president currently holding a strong lead over the current leader.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden went head-to-head in a televised debate for the final time this campaign (Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden went head-to-head in a televised debate for the final time this campaign (Getty Images)

Mr Biden’s lead in crucial states is wafer thin, and any loss in these could tilt the race in Mr Trump’s favour.

The debate in Nashville Tennessee was divided into six 15-minute segments dedicated to one topic, from the environment to race – here's what they said on each of them.

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Fighting COVID-19

President Trump continued to downplay the severity of a pandemic which has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

He said “it will go away,” adding “we’re rounding the corner.”

The president then made the argument for reopening the economy, stating: “We can’t keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy.”

He added: “there’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Mr Biden was fierce in his response stating: “220,000 deaths. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States.” He added that Trump had “no clear plan” to bring the virus under control.

National Security

Next the pair were asked what they would do to restrict foreign interference in elections.

This descended into the pair exchanging jibes on their apparent links to foreign powers with Mr Trump bringing up unsubstantiated claims about Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in China.

Biden retorted: “There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey,” Biden said. “He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family.”

Race in America

The duo then duelled on race relations, with the current president claiming: "I am the least racist person in this room."

An exasperated Biden replied that Trump was, "one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire."

He added: "This guy is a [racial] dog whistle about as big as a fog horn."

Climate Change

Mr Biden described climate change as an "existential threat to humanity" before attacking Trump for his record over the last four years.

He said: "Four more years of this man eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate... will put us in the position where we're going to be in real trouble."

Trump defended his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, stating that he was not willing to "sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies" for the agreement.

Mr Biden said he would “transition from the oil industry” before his campaign team clarified that he would remove subsidies for oil companies.

Immigration

The duo then duelled on the treatment of migrant children on the US-Mexico border after it emerged that hundreds of children who had been separated from their parents under Mr Trump had not been reunited with their families.

The president said "Who built the cages, Joe?” in reference to the enclosures where unaccompanied children were held under the Obama presidency.

Biden replied that the Trump administration had gone further by separating families – a practice he described as “criminal".

Who’s ahead in the polls?

Biden continues to maintain a solid lead over Mr Trump in the polls.

An average of polls taken by poll aggregator Five Thirty Eight shows that Biden has a 9.9 point lead over Trump with significant leads held in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Over 47m Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, representing a third of overall turnout at the 2016 election.

A CNN poll of debate watchers found that Mr Biden had edged the debate with 53% of Biden won the matchup, while 39% said that President Donald Trump did.