Joe Biden in Third 2020 Presidential Debate

On Budget & Economy: Must get stimulus money to local and state governments

BIDEN: This HEROES Act has been sitting there. And look at what's happening. When I was in charge of the recovery act with $800 billion, I was able to get $145 billion to local and communities that have to balance their budgets. [If they cannot], then they have to fire firefighters, teachers, first responders, law enforcement officers, so they could keep their cities and counties running. They have not done a thing for them. And Mitch McConnell said, "Let them go bankrupt. Let them go bankrupt."

TRUMP: The bill that was passed in the House was a bailout of badly run, high crime, all run by Democrat cities and states. It was a way of getting a lot of money, billions and billions of dollars, to these guys. It was also a way of getting a lot of money from our people's pockets to people that come into our country illegally. This was a way of spending on things that had nothing to do with COVID, as per your question. But it was really a big bailout for badly run Democrat cities and states.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Civil Rights: Trump is the most racist president in modern history

TRUMP: I am the least racist person in this room. Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump with the exception of Abraham Lincoln.

BIDEN: Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history, he pours fuel on every single racist fire. Started off his campaign coming down the escalator saying he's getting rid of those Mexican rapists, he's ban Muslims because they're Muslims, he has moved around and made everything worse across the board. About the Proud Boys, last time we were on stage here he said, "I tell them to stand down and stand ready." Come on, this guy has a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.

TRUMP: The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting, "Pigs in a blanket; fry them like bacon," talking about police. I thought it was a terrible 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.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Crime: Institutional racism that only black parents give "the talk"

Q: Part of the way Black and Brown Americans experience race in this country is something called "the talk." Regardless of class and income, parents who feel they have no choice, but to prepare their children for the chance that they could be targeted by the police, for no reason other than the color of their skin. Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?

BIDEN: I do. I never had to tell my daughter, if she's pulled over for a traffic stop. "Put both hands on top of the wheel and don't reach for the glove box because someone may shoot you." But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child, "Don't have a hoodie on when you go across the street." The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America. We've always constantly been moving the needle further and further to inclusion, not exclusion. This is the first president to come along and says, that's the end of that. We're not going to do that anymore.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Drugs: 1980s drugs bill, passed by all 100 Senators, was a mistake

Q: Crime bills that you supported in the '80s and '90s contributed to the incarceration of tens of thousands of young Black men who had small amounts of drugs in their possession. Speak to those families, why should they vote for you?

BIDEN: One of the things is that in the '80s we passed 100 percent, all 100 senators voted for a bill on drugs and how to deal with drugs, it was a mistake. I've been trying to change since then particularly the portion on cocaine. That's why I've been arguing that in fact we should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense, they should be going into treatment across the board, that's what we should be spending money. And that's why I set up drug courts which were never funded by our Republican friends. They should not be going to jail for a drug or an alcohol problem; they should be going into treatment. I think the American people have now seen that it was a mistake to pass those laws relating to drugs, but they were not in the Crime Bill.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Drugs: Trump is for more in jail; I am for drug rehab, not jail

BIDEN: This is a guy who said, "The problem with the crime bill, there's not enough people in jail." This is a guy who in the Central Park Five, five innocent black kids, he continued to push for the death penalty [referring to a 1989 case in which Trump took out a full-page newspaper ad calling for punishment]. He commuted 20 people's sentences. We commuted over 1,000 sentences. The federal prison system was reduced by 38,000 people under our administration. I'm offering $20 billion to states to change their laws to eliminate minimum mandatories and set up drug courts. No one should be going to jail because they have a drug problem. They should be going to rehabilitation, not to jail.

TRUMP: He's been in government 47 years, he never did a thing, except in 1994, when he did such harm to the Black community, and he called them super predators. Criminal justice reform, Obama and Joe didn't do it. If you had to see the arms I had to twist to get that done.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Energy & Oil: My plan fights climate change and creates jobs

BIDEN: Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. I was able to get environmental organizations as well as people worried about jobs, to support my climate plan. Because it will create millions of new good paying jobs, we're going to invest in, for example, 50,000 charging stations so that we can own the electric car market of the future. We're going to take 4 million buildings and 2 million homes and retrofit them so they don't leak as much energy, saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in the process and creating significant number of jobs.

TRUMP: The [Paris Climate Accord], I took us out because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly. I will not sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies because of the Paris Accord, it was so unfair.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Energy & Oil: No federal subsidies to oil; transition to renewables

TRUMP: You want to kill the economy, get rid of your oil industry you want. What about fracking?

BIDEN: I never said I oppose fracking. I rule out banning fracking because we need other industries to transition, to get to ultimately a complete zero emissions by 2025. What I will do with fracking over time is make sure that we can capture the emissions from the fracking, capture the emissions from gas. We can do that and we can do that by investing money in doing it, but it's a transition. I said, no fracking and/or oil on federal land.

TRUMP: Would he close down the oil industry?

BIDEN: Well if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I'd stopped giving to the oil industry, I'd stop giving them federal subsidies. You won't get federal subsidies to the gas, oh, excuse me to solar and wind.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Environment: Fence-line communities need restrictions on pollutants

Q: People of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants.

BIDEN: Those people live on what they call fence lines. [Trump] doesn't understand this. They live near chemical plants that pollute, chemical plants and oil plants and refineries that pollute. I used to live near that when I was growing up in Claymont, Delaware and there are more oil refineries in Marcus Hook and the Delaware River than there is any place, including in Houston at the time. When my mom got in the car to drive me to school, turning the windshield wiper, there'd be an oil slick in the window. That's why so many people in my state were dying and getting cancer. The fact is those frontline communities, it's not a matter of what you're paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? You impose restrictions on the pollutions that if the pollutants coming out of those fence line communities.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Foreign Policy: Mueller Report: I did nothing wrong; Trump bribed Ukraine

On the Mueller Report impeachment investigation:

TRUMP: I was put through a phony witch hunt for three years. It started before I got elected. They spied on my campaign. Let me just say this, Mueller and 18 angry Democrats and FBI agents all over the place spent $48 million. They went through everything I had, including my tax returns, and they found absolutely no collusion and nothing wrong. $48 million. I guarantee you, if I spent $1 million on you, Joe, I could find plenty wrong.

BIDEN: I later learned of Burisma, a company that somehow, I had done something wrong, yet every single person, when he was going through his impeachment, testifying under oath, said I did my job impeccably. I carried out U.S. policy, not one single solitary thing was out of line. Number two, the guy who got in trouble in Ukraine was this guy trying to bribe the Ukrainian government to say something negative about me, which they would not do and did not do because it never ever, ever happened.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Foreign Policy: Trump has legitimized North Korea, a rogue state

Q: President Trump says that the Obama/Biden administration left him "a mess" in North Korea. Did you?

BIDEN: North Korea is a problem, and we're going make sure we can control them and make sure they cannot hurt us. If you want to do something about it, step up and help. If not, it's going to continue." What has he done? He's legitimized North Korea. He's talked about his good buddy, who's a thug. He talks about how we're better off. And they have much more capable missiles, able to reach US territory much more easily than before. The Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear free zone.

TRUMP: I met with Obama, he said, "The biggest problem we have is North Korea." He indicated we will be in a war with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim. We have a good relationship and there's no war. Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Foreign Policy: Pressure China to obey international rules

BIDEN: I'd make China play by the international rules, not like he has done. When I met with Xi and when I was still vice-president, he said we're setting up air identification zones in the South China Sea. You can't fly through them. I said we're going to fly through them. We just flew B-52, B-1 bombers through it. We're not going to pay attention. They have to play by the rules.
Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Free Trade: Malarkey that China paid farmers; taxpayers did

Q: What specifically are you going to do to make China pay? You've said you're going to make them pay. New sanctions?

TRUMP: First of all, China is paying. They're paying billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion to our farmers.

BIDEN: Taxpayer's money. Didn't come from China.

TRUMP: No, no. You know who the taxpayer is? It's called China. China pays $28 billion, and you know what they did to pay it, Joe? They devalued their currency and they also paid up, and you know got the money? Our farmers, our great farmers, because they were targeted. You never charged them anything. Also, I charged them 25% on dumped steel, because they were killing our steel industry. We were not going to have a steel industry. And now we have a steel industry.

BIDEN: There's a reason why he's bringing up all this malarkey. He doesn't want to talk about the substantive issues. [Based on] the decisions you're making, middle-class families like I grew up in Scranton, they're in trouble.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Government Reform: Any country that interferes in US elections will pay a price

Q: On the security of our elections: top intelligence officials confirmed that both Russia and Iran are working to influence this election. What would you do to put an end to this threat?

BIDEN: I asked everyone to take the pledge: Any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price. They will pay a price. And it's been overwhelmingly clear this election--I won't even get into the last one--this election, that Russia has been involved, China's been involved to some degree, and now we learn that Iran is involved. They will pay a price if I'm elected. They're interfering with American sovereignty. That's what's going on right now. They're interfering with American sovereignty. I don't think the President has said anything to Putin about it. I don't know why he hasn't said a word to Putin about it. His buddy Rudy Giuliani--he's being used as a Russian pawn. He's being fed information that is Russian that is not true. And then what happens? Nothing happens.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Health Care: If we just all wore masks, we'd save 100,000 lives

Q: How would you lead the country out of the coronavirus crisis?

BIDEN: 220,000 Americans dead. You hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. The expectation is we'll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now & the end of the year. If we just wore these masks, we can save a 100,000 lives. And we're in a circumstance where the president has no comprehensive plan. What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time. I would make sure we invest in rapid testing. I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses so they can be safe and give them the wherewithal, the financial resources to be able to do that. Folks, I will take care of this. I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan.

Q: [to TRUMP]: You said a vaccine will be coming within weeks. Is that a guarantee?

TRUMP: No, it's not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year. I think it has a good chance.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Health Care: A dark winter pandemic: People are learning to die with it

Q: The CDC has said young people can get sick with COVID-19 and can pass it.

TRUMP: 99.9% of young people recover. We have to recover. We can't close up our nation. We have to open our schools and we can't close up our nation, or you're not going to have a nation.

BIDEN: We're about to go into a dark winter, and he has no clear plan. He says that we're learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it. You folks home will have an empty chair at the kitchen table this morning. That man or wife going to bed tonight and reaching over to try to touch, there out of habit, where their wife or husband was, is gone. Learning to live with it. Come on. We're dying with it, because he's never said. See, you said, "It's dangerous." When's the last time? Is it really dangerous still? Are we dangerous. You tell the people it's dangerous now. What should they do about the danger? And you say, "I take no responsibility."

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Health Care: Re-open businesses, restaurants, & schools with COVID safety

TRUMP: We can't close up our nation. We have to open our schools and we can't close up our nation, or you're not going to have a nation.

Q: What do you say to Americans who are fearful that the cost of shutdowns, the impact on the economy outweighs the risk of exposure to the virus?

BIDEN: What I would say is, I'm going to shut down the virus, not the country. It's [President Trump's] ineptitude that caused the country to have to shut down in large part, why businesses have gone under, why schools are closed.

Q: But you haven't ruled out more shut downs?

BIDEN: I'm not shutting down today, but you need standards. If you have a community that's above a certain level, everybody says, "Slow up. More social distancing. Do not open bars and do not open gymnasiums." But when you do open, give the people the capacity to open safely. For example, schools. They need a lot of money to be open. They need to deal with ventilation systems. They need to deal with smaller classes, more teachers.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Health Care: ObamaCare plus a public option makes BidenCare

Q: Your healthcare plan calls for building on ObamaCare?

BIDEN: What I'm going to do is pass ObamaCare with a public option, and become BidenCare. The public option says that if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies. That's what's going to happen. Secondly, we're going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there's competition, that doesn't exist now, by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the insurance companies. Thirdly, the idea that I want to eliminate private insurance, the reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination was I support private insurance. That's why. Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under ObamaCare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Health Care: Public option is not socialism

Q: Your healthcare plan includes a government insurance option. Does that take the country one step closer to a healthcare system run entirely by the government?

BIDEN: I say it's ridiculous. It's like saying that the fact that there's a public option that people can choose, that makes it a socialist plan? Look, the difference between the president and me: I think healthcare is not a privilege, it's a right. Everyone should have the right to have affordable healthcare, and I am very proud of my plan.

TRUMP: He wants socialized medicine. His vice president, she wants it even more. The Democrats want it. You're going to have socialized medicine.

BIDEN: People deserve to have affordable healthcare, period. Period, period, period. And the Biden care proposal will in fact provide for that affordable healthcare. What we're going to do is going to cost some money. It's going to cost over $750 billion over 10 years to do it. And they're going to have lower premiums.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Immigration: Separating kids from parents in border cages is criminal

Q: The US can't locate the parents of more than 500 children separated at the border. Do you have a plan to reunite the kids with their families?

TRUMP: We're working on it. But a lot of these kids come out without the parents. Children are brought here by coyotes. They are so well taken care of. They're in facilities that were so clean.

Q: But some of them haven't been reunited with their families.

TRUMP: But just ask one question. Who built the cages?

BIDEN: These 500-plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. Coyotes didn't bring them over. Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents. And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.

TRUMP: We changed the policy. Who built the cages, Joe?

BIDEN: Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 of the sets of those parents, and those kids are alone. It's criminal.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Immigration: I'll send bill in first 100 days for pathway to citizenship

Q: The Obama Administration did fail to deliver immigration reform, which had been a key promise. It also presided over record deportations, as well as family detentions at the border before changing course. So why should voters trust you with an immigration overhaul now?

BIDEN: Because we made a mistake. It took too long to get it right. I'll be President, not Vice President. And the fact is I've made it very clear. Within a 100 days, I'm going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people. And all of those so-called DREAMers, those DACA kids, they're going to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship.

TRUMP: He had 8 years to do what he said he was going to do. And I've changed. Without having a specific, we got rid of catch and release. We got rid of a lot of horrible things that they put in and that they lived with. But he had eight years he was Vice President.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Jobs: No one with a job should be below poverty level

BIDEN: No one should work one job, be below poverty. People are making six, seven, eight bucks an hour. These first responders we all clap for as they come down the street because they've allowed us to make it. What's happening? They deserve a minimum wage of $15. Anything below that puts you below the poverty level. And there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business. That is simply not true.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

On Principles & Values: Promises to be a president to all Americans

Q: Your closing statements?

BIDEN: I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me. We're going to choose science over fiction. We're going to choose hope over fear. We can grow this economy, we can deal with systemic racism. At the same time, we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy, creating millions of new jobs. What is on the ballot is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect. Treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance.

TRUMP: We have to make our country successful, as it was prior to the plague. Now we're rebuilding it. And you know what? The other side wanted to get together. They wanted to unify. Success is going to bring us together. 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.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker Oct 22, 2020

The above quotations are from Third presidential debate
at Belmont University, October 22, 2020
hosted by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
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Page last updated: Oct 24, 2020