Finally, a real debate
A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened."
The result: A real debate.
- With a firm moderator, NBC News' Kristen Welker — along with threats of mic cutoffs and advisers' pleas for Trump to cool it — voters finally heard clear contrasts.
- Trump swung several times, but never quite landed a punch as he tried to connect Biden to a nebulous cloud of allegations about business dealings by his son Hunter.
Between the lines: Trump didn't focus on assuring women voters or seniors. But his economic argument could reassure some men in swing states.
- Trump went back to 2016 mode — the outsider, chiding career politicians. But he's one of them now.
During an exchange about race in America, Trump said: "Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln — possible exception. ... I'm the least racist person in this room."
- Biden retorted sarcastically, referring to Trump: "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history."
- Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying
- Biden: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"
- Biden on Trump's "socialist" attack
- Trump and Biden clash over immigration, family separation policy
Reporting was contributed by Stef Kight, Alexi McCammond, David Nather and Hans Nichols.