Live blog: the second presidential debate

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Henry Gamber: Trump is the underdog right now. What he needed was a miracle, and that miracle didn’t happen. I don’t expect the trajectory of the race to change much at all as a result of the debate. (9:40)

Henry Gamber: I agree. I’m glad this debate didn’t turn as heated as the past debate. Debates rarely change things in a normal race, I don’t think this debate is going to disprove that rule. (9:38)

Caleb Wilson: Overall, I don’t think much will change as a result of the debate. Neither candidate really performed better than the other. Biden slipped a few times, but managed to mostly catch himself. (9:36)

Henry Gamber: I’m surprised that it hasn’t been heated like this until now. (9:34)

Caleb Wilson: Oof, that was for sure a gaffe. It didn’t derail the meaning too much, and surprisingly the only real gaffe of the night, but still, it was noticeable. (9:19)

Henry Gamber: Trump saying he wouldn’t have run if Obama and Biden weren’t elected, he ran multiple times in the past for the Reform Party. (9:17)

Sam Bellefy: I know Trump, for one, is very interested in birth certificates. What if the moderator confronted these men with theirs? (9:15)

Jacob Lee: This country has always been built on immigrants and Trump wants to keep kids in cages and, as our leader, he exemplifies the word xenophobia. (9:08)

Caleb Wilson: What we just witnessed was a battle of deflection by both candidates, with both of them refusing to recognize any of the legitimate criticisms about their immigration policy pasts. (9:04)

Caleb Wilson: So, Trump says he’ll consider a $15 federal minimum wage. Then, not a second later, he says it should be a state choice. So it’s not federal, it’s state? He’s trying to please both sides but you can’t contradict yourself in literally a matter of seconds. (9:02)

Henry Gamber: Again, Trump hits the racist dog-whistling, saying that “people will be pouring into the country” if the Heroes Act is passed. (8:59)

Henry Gamber: I think Biden hit on something pretty big when talking about how ordinary people don’t benefit from the stock market. Doing a pretty good job on maintaining the appearance of “just another one of the working people.” (8:57)

Caleb Wilson: This man really just said that Kamala Harris is further left than Bernie Sanders. Wow. (8:53)

Caleb Wilson: We just neared very close to an “oooh spooky socialism” moment. Glad the moderator strayed away from that. (8:52)

Henry Gamber: Scratch that, if Biden is going to start calling something “Biden-care,” I think maybe he should avoid talking about healthcare. (8:50)

Henry Gamber: Trump should be pivoting right now, healthcare is an extremely bad issue for Republicans. Biden has a real opportunity to make this a bigger issue. (8:48)

Jacob Lee: Trump is talking about having a positive relationship with a dictator. All that does is legitimize Kim Jong Un in the eyes of everybody, you shouldn’t be friends with a dictator. (8:47)

Henry Gamber: I think Biden is starting to perform a lot worse than in the beginning. I think this is a pretty persistent issue for him, he is not a consistently good debater. (8:45)

Caleb Wilson: Like I said earlier, I think Biden’s appeal right now is good, but if he continues to wander out of discussions in that direction I think it’ll quickly water down the effectiveness. (8:43)

Jacob Lee: I think that the moderator is doing pretty well. She’s cut off both Biden and Trump in different instances and is focused on moving onto other questions when they want to respond to something that doesn’t matter. (8:40)

Henry Gamber: Very happily surprised by how much control the moderator is exerting over the candidates. (8:39)

Henry Gamber: It’s pretty odd that Trump is claiming that if he spent $1 million digging dirt on Biden that he would find a lot of scandalous information. His campaign should already be spending that for opposition research, he probably already has spent that, maybe more. (8:36)

Jacob Lee: Russia literally interfered in our election and Trump didn’t say anything about it, his FBI Director told us. (8:34)

Caleb Wilson: Oh, now Joe’s directly attacking Trump. I was wondering if this was going to happen after Trump directly spoke to him. I’m very curious if people are going to perceive that as being “presidential” or if they’ll think it was a bridge too far, which I know was a complaint from some groups previously. (8:33)

Henry Gamber: It’s pretty clear when Biden is on-script vs off-script. He stumbles on words more, like his comments on Rudy Giuliani. (8:29)

Henry Gamber: Trump’s spin of his low fundraising is actually pretty effective, he is continuing that populist rhetoric. (8:26)

Henry Gamber: As someone who has taken multiple COVID-19 tests, I’m surprised rapid testing isn’t more of an issue that Biden is pressing. (8:23)

Henry Gamber: I think one of the more effective attacks Republicans have against Democrats is that many more extreme safety precautions, like shutdowns, have a pretty adverse effect on the economy. I think Biden is struggling to play both sides in response to this attack. (8:20)

Caleb Wilson: That moment where Biden talked directly to camera, it was virtually the same as the last debate. In that debate I though the occasional speech directly to the audience was impactful, though I thought he did it too frequently and took away from the power of the moment. I wonder if that’ll happen again tonight. (8:17)

Henry Gamber: We see again Trump making fun of Biden for taking extreme safety precautions, “he’s living in a bunker.” It should be noted that Trump is the only presidential candidate that has had coronavirus. (8:15)

Caleb Wilson: It’s interesting to me how Trump talks about how he has responded by doing everything Biden has suggested, except Trump did it earlier. But notice that he only talks about things in the past and doesn’t address the points Biden made not a few minutes before about organizing a coherent national response. (8:14)

Henry Gamber: First impression from the moderator, Kristen Welker, is following up and pinpointing on questions, a welcome change from Chris Wallace’s performance the last debate. (8:11)

Henry Gamber: I think it’s notable that Biden, at least from what their campaign has said, has been preparing for the debate for the past week. Without interruptions, I think it’s possible he may have some effective canned lines. (8:10)

Caleb Wilson: The goal post always moves with Trump, he has previously said the vaccine will be available before the election, we’re less than two weeks before the election and he’s still saying we’re about to have a vaccine. (8:08)

Henry Gamber: Trump almost immediately hints at China being to blame for the coronavirus, I think this is only foreshadowing the dog-whistles to come. (8:07)

Caleb Wilson: I wonder if the muting will end up hurting Biden. His sentences tend to trail off, and Trump’s interruptions may mask that. (8:06)

Henry Gamber: Over all, unless something major an unexpected happens – which arguable should be expected – I can’t imagine the debate having a huge shift on the race. Biden is up every swing state and is turning traditionally red states, like Texas, into swing states. It’s hard to imagine even a disastrous performance by Biden to change the race enough to make it competitive. (8:03)

Caleb Wilson: When you’re looking at the skills of each candidate, I think Joe Biden is far better at laying out concrete policy ideas, whereas Trump more or less always just says his response will be “great” or the “best.” However, Trump does have a force of personality, despite it being generally negative, that I think Biden lacks. Biden showed some fieriness in the first debate, but overall I’d be surprised if Biden didn’t get walked over somewhat in this debate.(8:02)

Henry Gamber: I don’t buy that the mute button will prevent interruptions, specifically from Trump. He will still be able to interject to try to make Biden, who notably has a stutter, stumble over his words. (7:58)

Starting at 7:30 p.m. EST, the UNews staff will write live updates on the presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden tonight.

The debate will cover six topics:

  • Fighting COVID-19
  • American families
  • Race in America
  • Climate change
  • National Security
  • Leadership

The debate will be moderated by NBC News’ White House correspondent Kristen Welker.