President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden faced off in the final 2020 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday (October 22).
The debate, which was moderated by NBC's Nightly News correspondent Kristen Welker — the only person of color to moderate a presidential debate during this election cycle — focused on topics including fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, and national security leadership.
In regard to race in America, Trump and Biden were first asked if they understood why people of color fear for their children in this country and how Black and Brown Americans experience racism in America.
Biden answered first, empathizing with Black Americans, saying no Black family should have to have "the talk" with their children where they speak to them about how to react when encountering police officers.
Trump, however, completely skipped over the question and instead attacked Biden for his alleged lack of action in regard to criminal justice reform. The President went on to further disparage the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming he first heard about it when protesters chanted “pigs in a blanket" and "fry them like bacon,” which was an isolated incident and condemned by BLM leaders, when referring to police officers.
When pressed on what he would say to Americans concerned about his rhetoric on Black Lives Matter, the president said, “I don’t, I mean, I don’t know what to say.” He added, "I am the least racist person in this room... I got criminal justice reform done and prison reform and opportunity zones. I took care of Black colleges and universities. I don't know what to say. They can say anything. It makes me sad because I am the least racist person."
Biden then responded, "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history." He added, "[Trump] pours fuel on every single racist fire... This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn."
Welker went on to ask about the crime bills Biden previously supported in the '80s and '90s that contributed to the incarceration of thousands of young Black men who had small amounts of drugs in their possession.
"In the '80s we passed 100% — all 100 senators voted for it — a bill on drugs on how to deal with drugs. It was a mistake... that's why I've been arguing that we should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense," he said. "They should be going into treatment across the board. That's why I set up drug courts that were never funded by Republicans. ... We should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense. They should be going into treatment."
Trump then asked Biden why he "didn't get it done" while he was the vice president, to which Biden responded, "We released 38,000 released from federal prisoners. There were over 1000 people given clemency. In fact, we're the ones that put in the legislation saying we could look at pattern and practice of police departments.... We began the process."
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