President Trump came to the second and final presidential debate on Thursday night trying to pin Joe Biden on his policies and his family’s affairs with foreign governments. Mr Biden has done his best to parry and dodge, repeatedly reverting to his main “character” themes and the end of the politics of division. With a solid lead and over 40 million votes already cast, Mr. Biden’s bet is that he may run out of time.
Mr. Trump was both better prepared and more disciplined than in the first debate, and if he loses on November 3, he will wish he did it the first time. He offered the best defense we’ve heard him make of his coronavirus effort, focusing on vaccines in development, his resource mobilization in the spring, and the need to balance protecting vulnerable people with the reopening of the country.
Mr Biden is his most demagogic when approaching the virus, saying at one point that “anyone responsible for so many deaths should not remain president.” We have criticized Mr. Trump’s inconsistent and at times Panglossian rhetoric, but calling him responsible for every American death is neither honest nor decent. Mr. Biden’s “plan” on Covid is essentially Mr. Trump’s with more cautious rhetoric and a warning to wear a mask. On potential future blockages, Mr. Trump says no while Mr. Biden says maybe.
Mr. Trump tried to make the economy a problem, but the moderator never gave him much of a chance to be joined. Mr Biden revealed the truth about his climate policy when he said he wanted to eliminate the oil trade and voters should take it seriously. He also signaled that while he would not immediately ban hydraulic fracturing, he would punish it with regulations. Mr. Trump is right that America’s carbon emissions are lower under his watch, thanks to natural gas. If you work in fossil fuels or an industry that depends on it, Mr. Biden really comes for your job.
The president has provided new evidence that Mr Biden’s son Hunter has traded his father’s name to court sketchy Chinese investors. That’s a fair question, even if Mr. Trump went too far and accused Mr. Biden of getting rich personally. This gave Mr Biden the opportunity to deny ever taking a dime from a foreign company.