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Mamamia recaps the final presidential debate: America, we're so sorry.

A fair bit has happened in the *checks notes*... three-and-a-bit weeks since US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former VP Joe Biden, met on stage for the first presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign.

Enough for at least three seasons of a TV political drama we would've once slammed as unrealistic.

These last four years have really given us some perspective, huh.

BUT THEY'RE BACK.

Trump's... not COVID positive anymore (apparently) and Biden has emerged from his COVID-safe hiding spot to meet him on stage for a debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

I'm not one for gambling, but how much money are we putting on the highly publicised 'mute button' making no difference to the quality of the next 90 minutes? 

Imagine being the person in charge of that button. Imagine pressing mute on Trump. This is what dreams are made of.

After the first debate, I got a very stern email from a man named Paul because I called the moderator Mr Fox News Moderator Man throughout my recap, so this time I've Googled the moderators name early.

Her name is Kristen Welker. Happy, Paul?

Ooh, it's time.

Welker is here. Trump is here. Biden is here. Kid Rock is here.

¯¯ \_(ツ)_/¯  Image: Getty.

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Biden removes his mask as he approaches the podium, which is safely separated from Trump who... at no point was wearing a mask, via plexiglass.

The moderator lays down the law:

"This debate will cover six major topics. At the beginning of each section, each candidate will have two minutes uninterrupted to answer my first question. The debate commission will then turn on their microphone only when it is their turn to answer and the Commission will turn it off exactly when the two minutes have expired.

"After that, both microphones will remain on but, on behalf of the voters, I'm going to ask you to please speak one at a time."

Hahahahaha... we'll see.

Question one is a COVID question for Trump:

"More than 40,000 Americans are in the hospital tonight with COVID, including record numbers here in Tennessee. Since the two of you last shared a stage, 16,000 Americans have died from COVID. Please be specific: How would you lead the country during the next stage of the coronavirus crisis?"

Goodness.

Trump says he shut down the "best economy in the world" to save lives and he'd been congratulated by world leaders for his response. 

I mean... where?

To the same question, Biden's just like, "200,000 Americans are dead".

"Anyone who is responsible for not taking control, in fact saying, 'I take no responsibility' initially, anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America."

Trump says a vaccine will be coming in a matter of weeks.

"It's not a guarantee but it will be by the end of the year but it has a good chance," Trump says. Riiiight.

Trump started doing this thing with his hands, so we know it's about to get heated. Image: Getty.

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Trump says Biden was against closing borders to China and called him xenophobic for doing so. 

OMG, Biden says Trump is xenophobic but not because he shut down access from China. 

Trump's like, "I said, 'This is dangerous. You catch it', I caught it, I learned a lot, I learned a lot," in what honestly sounds like a sad remix of Ariana Grande's 7 Rings.

So far, they're going back and forth really... respectfully and OH I SPOKE TOO SOON, WE HAVE OUR FIRST YELL.

Welker asks how Biden would balance shutdowns with keeping the economy going.

"I will shut down the virus, not the country. It is his ineptitude that caused the country to have to shut down in large part, why businesses have gone under, schools are closed, so many people have lost their living. Those other concerns are real."

He says Trump should have been focussing on negotiating Acts to help the everyday people during this time "instead of being in a sand trap at his golf course" and god, I do enjoy when they shade Trump for his golf skills. 

You just know he takes that personally.

They argue about COVID, wearing masks and whether New York is... okay for approximately an eternity. 

There's nothing new here! It's basically a replay of the first debate, except now Trump is like "I'M IMMUNE".

MOVING ON.

We get to talk about how Russia and Iran are actively trying to influence the American election. Truly shocking, surprising news. How can this be?

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Biden is STRONG on this. Oof, go off.

"Any country, no matter what it is that interferes in American election, will pay a price... They're interfering with American sovereignty. That's what's going on right now. 

"Russia is wanting to make sure that I do not get elected the next President of the United States because they know I know them and they know me."

Trump spends this entire time on the discredited claims that Biden and his family took money from foreign nations.

Biden's like 'yeah, nah', and brings up recent reports that Trump has a bank account in China (and pays more tax there than in the US).

Trump says "you're the big man, I think" and goodness, sorry, what are we talking about here?

This is... a mess. 

Welker tries to pivot to talk about China and how to keep America's standing in the world.

Trump is not keen. He's still talking "malarkey" about Biden's son.

This is actually good for Biden, cause he's really effective when looking down the barrel of the camera and speaking to the people.

"It is not about his family and my family, it is about your family and your family is hurting badly. If you're making less than - if you're a middle class family, you're getting hurt badly right now... We should be talking about your families, but that's the last thing he wants to talk about."

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Trump says that's a typical political statement and he's "not a typical politician". 

Who knew?

OH NO.

Welker is yelling about how we need to move on to talk about American families, and Trump is repeating "NORTH KOREA, A MESS, OBAMA".

Finally, she gets him to shhhh and asks about healthcare.

Welker says if ObamaCare is overturned, 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance almost overnight. 

I'm just going to paste much of Trump's response here. See if you can make sense of it because... I can't:

"Now it's in court because ObamaCare is no good. But then I made a decision, run it as well as you can to my people, great people. Run it as well as you can. I could have gone the other route and made everybody very unhappy. They ran it. Premiums are down. Everything's down. Here's the problem. No matter how well you run it, it's no good. What we'd like to do is terminate it. We have the individual mandate, done. I don't know that it's going to work. If we don't win, we will have to run it and we'll have ObamaCare, but it will be better run, but it no longer is ObamaCare because without the individual mandate, it's much different."

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They argue about socialised medicine which is STUPID because NO ONE IS SUGGESTING ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO SOCIALISED MEDICINE.

THIS MAN IS NOT A SOCIALIST. Image: Getty.

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"He's a very confused guy," Biden says. "He thinks he's running against someone else. He's running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them... I mean, the idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on Social Security and Medicare, come on."

PAUSE.

We're an hour in and THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING.

This entire debate so far has been 'he said', 'he did', 'he screwed up', 'RUSSIA'. None of this is helpful for those 'ordinary Americans'.

Biden keeps trying to bring it back to them but he gets railroaded by a personal attack from his opponent. 

The only bright side is that Trump listened to his handlers, who definitely coached him not to interrupt like last time. 

AMERICA, YOU DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS.

Okay. Now they're talking about raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Biden is supportive.

Trump won't rule it out, but he's less enthusiastic: "It should be a state option. Look, in different places, I know different places, they're all different. Some places, they're all different."

My brain... is mush.

Biden, thinking about how different places are different. Image: Getty.

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The next topic is immigration, and Welker asks about an investigation from this week that found the United States can't locate the parents of more than 500 children it separated at the border. 

Grim.

Trump says the children arrived with cartels, and Biden rejects this.

"Their parents were with them," he says. "They got separated from their parents and it makes us a laughing-stock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation."

Trump says reporters came to visit the children and found they were well looked after. I'm so pleased the kids are comfortable in their cages.

This is going so well, it's time to move on to race.

Welker asks Biden to speak directly to the families of Black Americans, who have 'the talk' with their children about the chance they could be targeted, including by the police, for no reason other than the colour of their skin. 

"We have always said... 'All men and women are created equal'. Guess what, we have never ever lived up to it. We have constantly been moving the needle further and further to inclusion, not exclusion... We have to provide for economic opportunity, better education, better healthcare, better education, better healthcare, better access to schooling, better access to opportunity to borrow money to start businesses."

Trump says Biden has been in government for 47 years and hasn't done anything about it. 

"Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump," he says, meaning both candidates have now referred to themselves in third person.

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Someone has this as a niche debate bingo square, surely.

"And if you look with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I've done," Trump continues.

He says he ran for President because of Biden and Obama. He calls Biden a corrupt politician and says "Don't give me this stuff about how you are an innocent baby". 

"AN INNOCENT BABY."

CAN WE JUST WRAP THIS UP NOW? 

Oh... no, we can't.

"You described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate," Welker tells Trump.

"You shared a video of a man chanting 'White power' to millions of your supporters. You said black people exercising their First Amendment rights should be fired."

Trump says the first time he heard of BLM, they were chanting "pigs in a blanket", which is "a horrible thing".

"As far as my relationships with all people, I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room."

So, no response to the white power chanting? The rest? That's... unfortunate.

They then argue LITERAL semantics, about whether Trump referred to himself as Abraham Lincoln or like Abraham Lincoln.

VERY. IMPORTANT. INFORMATION.

Not Abraham Lincoln. Image: Getty.

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Biden talks about law reforms, and Trump asks why he didn't do anything during the eight years he was Vice President, as if he was single-handedly in charge of the laws and not hamstrung by a Republican Senate.

Is anyone still here? Because oooh boy, it's time to discuss climate change.

"I do love the environment," Trump says, in what must be a giant relief to all climate activists the world over.

"What I want is the cleanest crystal clear water, the cleanest air."

Then things get... weird: "We have the best lowest number in carbon emissions which is a big standard that I notice Obama goes with all the time. Not Joe. I haven't heard Joe use the term because I'm not sure if he knows what it represents or means but I have heard Obama use it. And we have heard Obama use it. And we have the best carbon emission numbers that we have had in 35 years under this administration."

It really confuses me to listen to Trump. I often wonder if my brain is just a bit slow, but then I see his quotes written down and I feel safe in the knowledge it's not... me.

Biden says four more years of a Trump administration "eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate, to clean up, to limit emissions will put us in a position where we are going to be in real trouble".

Trump says Biden's climate plan is from "AOC plus three" because it's really hard to remember the names of four women.

"They want to knock down buildings and build new buildings with little tiny small windows and many other things," he says, and Biden says "give me a break".

Same, man. Same.

We all need a break. Image: Getty.

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Trump says "I know more about wind than you do." Genuinely, I think he thinks he does.

Biden says America needs to transition from oil to renewable energy over time, which in context seems like... a reasonable decision on account of that whole end-of-our-planet thing.

IT'S TIME FOR THE FINAL QUESTION.

"What will you say in your address to Americans who did not vote for you?" Welker asks.

"Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success but I'm cutting taxes and he wants to raise everybody's taxes and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you have never seen. Your 401 will go to hell and it will be a very, very sad day for this country," Trump replies. 

Meanwhile, Biden focuses more on what he brings rather than what his opponent doesn't.

"I will say I'm an American President. I represent all of you whether you voted for me or against me and I'm going to make sure that you are represented. I'm going to give you hope. We are going to move. We are going to choose science over fiction. We are going to choose hope over fear. We are going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities...

"And I'm going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country - decency, honour, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance and I'm going to make sure you get that. You haven't been getting it the last four years."

That's it. We're done.

We shall never have to sit through a Trump v Biden debate again, and for that I am eternity grateful.

BRING ON NOVEMBER 3.

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Feature image: Getty.

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