The Latest: Trump, Biden have back-and-forth over racism

Trump Biden Final Debate
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden walk on stage during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden:

10:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is attacking his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, over his support for a 1994 crime bill, part of a furious, larger back-and-forth over racism.

Trump said the legislation “did such harm to the Black community.”

Biden has called the law a mistake in the past, and he reiterated that Thursday. Biden said, “The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America.”

The discussion over race in the country then stretched on for several minutes, with Biden sarcastically seizing on Trump’s fondness for saying he’s done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln by referring to Trump as “Abraham Lincoln over here.”

Trump said that Biden had four years as vice president to combat racism but failed to do so.

Trump says, “You’re all talk and no action, Joe.”

Biden said Trump was race baiting, saying that the president “has a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.”

10:40 p.m.

Democrat Joe Biden is framing the election as a battle over the character of the nation, a reiteration of one of his major campaign themes.

Speaking directly to the audience during Thursday night’s debate, Biden told them they’re familiar with both his and President Donald Trump’s character, their “reputations for honor” and “reputations for telling the truth.” He went on to declare that “our character is on the ballot.”

His comments came in response to Trump’s declaration that he ran because Biden and President Barack Obama “did a poor job.”

Trump responded that if his unfounded charges that Biden has received money from Russia and Ukraine are true, Biden himself is a “corrupt politician,” while Biden said the evidence for such allegations is a “Russian plant.”

Trump immediately dismissed Biden’s charges, declaring, “You have to be kidding me. Here we go again with Russia.”

10:35 p.m.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are clashing on race relations, as the former vice president calls the current president “one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history.”

Biden said Trump “pours fuel on every racist fire” and noted that at his last debate the president wouldn’t condemn white supremacy and told an extremist group to “stand down and stand by.”

Trump portrayed himself as a champion of Black people. Repeating his standard line that no president has done more for Black Americans than anyone other than Abraham Lincoln, Trump accused Biden and former President Barack Obama of ignoring issues of racial justice.

Trump told Biden: “You’ve done nothing but the crime bill which put tens of thousands of Black men in jail.”

Biden said he’s been trying to change drug sentencing laws that disproportionately harmed African Americans and that the public knows his record.

Trump, touting criminal justice reform and opportunity zone bills he signed, said: “I am the least racist person in this room.”

10:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his administration’s separation of immigrant children who remain away from their families following detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump said during Thursday’s debate that children are often brought across the border not by families but “by coyotes and lots of bad people.”

The American Civil Liberties Union told a judge this week that there were still 545 children separated from their parents from 2018.

Trump said his administration had constructed more than 400 miles of his promised border barrier. He also said, “They built cages,” referring to Obama-era facilities depicted in media reports during the separations.

Biden disputed Trump’s answer, saying kids “were ripped from” their families in 2018.

As he has done since the primary campaign, Biden defended the Obama administration’s immigration policy, admitting that it “took too long to get it right.”

10:20 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he would push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and rejects the idea that it would hurt small businesses.

Biden said at Thursday’s debate: “There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business.”

President Donald Trump argued that the minimum wage should be left as an issue for the states to determine. He says, “How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages? What’s going to happen, and what’s been proven to happen, is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees.”

The two candidates were asked about where they stand on raising the federal minimum wage as part of their final debate Thursday night. The minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. Proponents of increasing it say the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, making it harder for workers to make ends meet.

10:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are blaming each other and each other’s political parties for the failure to provide a new round of coronavirus aid relief.

Trump blamed Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even as Pelosi continues to negotiate a deal with Trump’s emissary, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Republican president suggested Pelosi doesn’t want to do anything that would help him.

Biden asked Trump why he isn’t talking to his “Republican friends” about a deal.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican leader, has told his fellow Republicans that he warned the White House against striking a trillion-dollar relief deal with Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election.

Biden raised his voice as he reminded viewers of Thursday’s presidential debate that the Democratic-controlled House passed a relief bill months ago. It was ignored by the GOP-led Senate.

10:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is offering rare praise to a member of the media: the moderator of the final presidential debate.

Trump told moderator Kristen Welker on Thursday evening: “So far I respect very much the way you are handling this, I have to say.”

The praise for Welker comes after Trump attacked her on Twitter over the weekend.

She has “always been terrible and unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters,” he tweeted at the time.

Trump has repeatedly fought with, belittled or denigrated members of the media during his tenure in office.

That included CBS New correspondent Lesley Stahl, with whom the president bickered repeatedly during an interview for “60 Minutes,” which he abruptly cut off.

Trump complained that the interview was unfair and released footage of it earlier Thursday.

9:55 p.m.

Joe Biden says his son did nothing inappropriate while working for a company in Ukraine and notes President Donald Trump was the one who got impeached for dealings with that country.

During the final presidential debate Thursday night, Trump noted that the former vice president’s son Hunter Biden drew a large salary from a Ukrainian firm. Joe Biden responded that the accusation had been investigated repeatedly and did not link him to any wrongdoing. Biden also noted that the president was impeached for attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to find potentially damaging information on the Bidens.

He then attempted to turn the question into an attack on Trump, focusing on a recent report in The New York Times that Trump has a bank account in that country.

Trump responded, “I have many bank accounts and they’re all listed and they’re all over the place.” He said that the Chinese account in question was opened in 2015 and closed in 2017, “I believe,” even though it actually appears to still be open.

9:50 p.m.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are arguing over their tax returns.

Responding to unfounded allegations from Trump during Thursday night’s debate that he’s received funds from Russian sources, Biden noted that he’s released 22 years of taxes, which he says show “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”

Pointing his finger at Trump, Biden asked: “What are you hiding?” He told Trump to “release your tax returns or stop talking about corruption.”

Trump responded that he would like to release his returns “as soon as we can” but reiterated his excuse that he’s under audit, a claim he’s made since he first ran for president in 2016. The president is not actually barred from releasing the documents while they’re under audit.

Trump also responded to the news that he paid just $750 in taxes in 2017, claiming that he was told he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars,” and that the $750 he paid was a “filing fee.”

But Biden again called on Trump to release proof. “Show us,” Biden said. “Stop playing around.”

9:40 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says any country that interferes in American elections will pay a price if he’s elected, saying, “They are interfering with American sovereignty.”

U.S. officials have reported that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. Officials are also accusing Iran of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.

Trump says that nobody has been tougher on Russia through sanctions and pushing for increased military spending by NATO.

The two candidates took questions in their final debate on how they would deter foreign interference in American elections.

9:30 p.m.

The final presidential debate is off without a hitch, with President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden not talking over each other — at least so far.

The first debate between Trump and Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and chaos after Trump repeatedly interrupted his opponent with angry — and personal — jabs.

In an effort to curtail interruptions this time, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Trump and Biden would each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivered an opening two-minute answer to each of six debate topics.

Trump has been far more restrained during Thursday’s debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

9:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are sparring over the coronavirus pandemic — but doing so relatively politely.

In a contrast to the first debate, the two presidential contenders went more than 15 minutes before interrupting each other at Thursday night’s debate. Helped by a rule that switched off the microphone for the candidate who was not talking, the two traded sharp barbs and critiques, but at least kept their voices lowered.

Trump insisted he had done a good job with a worldwide pandemic and said the country needs to “learn to live with it.”

Biden shot back: “People are learning to die with it.”

Regardless, it was a markedly less bombastic opening than in the first debate, when Trump frequently interrupted and shouted over Biden. The president seemed fairly calm Thursday, talking about his own recent bout with the virus as an example of how the country can survive it.

9 p.m.

The second and final presidential debate of the 2020 election has begun.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are facing off Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, more than three weeks after their first debate.

A lot has happened since then: Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus and spent three days in the hospital.

Organizers initially planned to separate the candidates with plexiglass barriers but removed them hours before the debate began. The candidates took coronavirus tests Thursday, and both campaigns said they came back negative.

The first debate was so raucous that changes were enacted to make the next one more orderly. There’s a mute button this time that will be controlled by a representative of the Commission on Presidential Debates. It will ensure that each candidate has two full minutes uninterrupted to deliver opening answers on six major topics.

©The Associated Press

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