Presidential Debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee
October 22, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and
President Donald Trump (R)
Kristen Welker (NBC News)
WELKER: Good evening from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m Kristen Welker of NBC News and I welcome you to the final 2020 presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Tonight’s debate is sponsored by The Commission on Presidential Debates. It is conducted under health and safety protocols designed by the commission’s health security advisor. The audience here in the hall has promised to remain silent. No cheers, boos or other interruptions except right now, as we welcome to the stage former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald J. Trump.
And I do want to say a very good evening to both of you. 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. The goal is for you to hear each other and for the American people to hear every word of what you both have to say. And so with that, if you’re ready, let’s start.
And we will begin with the fight against the coronavirus. President Trump, the first question is for you. The country is heading into a dangerous new phase. More than 40,000 Americans are in the hospital tonight with COVID, including record numbers here in Tennessee. And since the two of you last shared a stage, 16,000 Americans have died from COVID. So please be specific: how would you lead the country during this next stage of the coronavirus crisis? Two minutes, uninterrupted.
TRUMP: So, as you know, 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die. We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease that came from China. It’s a worldwide pandemic. It’s all over the world. You see the spikes in Europe and many other places right now. If you notice, the mortality rate is down, 85%. The excess mortality rate is way down, and much lower than almost any other country. And we’re fighting it and we’re fighting it hard. There is a spike. There was a spike in Florida, and it’s now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas, it’s now gone. There was a very big spike in Arizona, it’s now gone. And there were some spikes and surges in other places. They will soon be gone. We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready. It’s going to be announced within weeks, and it’s going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military, is going to distribute the vaccine. I can tell you from personal experience that I was in the hospital, I had it. And I got better and I will tell you that I had something that they gave me — a therapeutic, I guess they would call it. Some people could say it was a cure. But I was in for a short period of time and I got better very fast or I wouldn’t be here tonight. And now they say I’m immune. Whether it’s four months or a lifetime, nobody’s been able to say that, but I’m immune. More and more people are getting better. We have a problem that’s a worldwide problem. This is a worldwide problem, but I’ve been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we’ve been able to do with the — if you take a look at what we’ve done in terms of goggles and masks and gowns and everything else, and in particular, ventilators. We’re now making ventilators. All over the world, thousands and thousands a month, distributing them all over the world, it will go away and as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner, it’s going away.
WELKER: OK, former Vice President Biden, to you, how would you lead the country out of this crisis? You have two minutes uninterrupted.
BIDEN: 220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. Anyone who’s responsible for not taking control — in fact, not 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. We’re in a situation where there are thousands of deaths a day, a thousand deaths a day. And there are over 70,000 new cases per day. Compared to what’s going on in Europe, as the New England Medical Journal said, they’re starting from a very low rate. We’re starting from a very high rate. The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead by the time, between now and the end of the year. If we just wore these masks — the President’s own advisors have told him — we could save 100,000 lives. And we’re in a circumstance where the President, thus far, still has no plan. 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 move in the direction of rapid testing, investing 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 and financial resources to be able to do that. We’re in a situation now where the New England Medical Journal — one of the serious, most serious journals in the whole world — said for the first time ever that this, the way this President has responded to this crisis has been absolutely tragic. And so folks, I will take care of this, I will end this, I will make sure we have a plan.
WELKER: President Trump, I’d like to follow up with you and your comments. You talked about taking a therapeutic. I assume you’re referencing Regeneron. You also 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, but I think it has a good chance. There are two companies, I think, within a matter of weeks, and it will be distributed very quickly.
WELKER: Can you tell us which companies?
TRUMP: Johnson and Johnson is doing very well. Moderna is doing very well. Pfizer is doing very well, and we have numerous others. And then we also have others that we’re working on very closely with other countries, in particular Europe.
WELKER: Let me follow up with you, and because this is new information — you have said a vaccine is coming soon, within weeks now. Your own officials say it could take well into 2021 at the earliest for enough Americans to get vaccinated, and even then they say the country will be wearing masks and distancing into 2022. Is your timeline realistic?
TRUMP: No, I think my timeline is going to be more accurate. I don’t know that they’re counting on the military the way I do, but we have our generals lined up, one in particular, that’s the head of logistics. And this is a very easy distribution for him. He’s ready to go as soon as we have the vaccine, and we expect to have 100 million vials as soon as we have the vaccine, he’s ready to go.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your reaction? Just 40% of Americans say they would definitely agree to take a coronavirus vaccine if it was approved by the government. What steps would you take to give Americans confidence in a vaccine if it were approved?
BIDEN: Make sure it’s totally transparent. Have the scientific world see it, know it, look at it, go through all the processes. And by the way, this is the same fellow who told you this is going to end by Easter last time. This the same fellow who told you that, don’t worry, we’re going to end this by the summer. We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter, and he has no clear plan and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.
WELKER: President Trump, your reaction? He says you have no plan.
TRUMP: I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning. When I closed and banned China from coming in heavily infected, and then ultimately Europe, but China was in January — months later he was saying I was xenophobic, I did it too soon. Now he’s saying, ‘Oh, I should have, I should have, you know, moved quicker.’ But he didn’t move quicker; he was months behind me, many months behind me. And frankly, he ran the H1N1 swine flu, and it was a total disaster. Far less lethal. But it was a total disaster. Had that had this kind of numbers, 700,000 people would be dead right now, but it was a far less lethal disease. Look, his own person who ran that for him who, as you know was his chief of staff, said ‘It was catastrophic, it was horrible, we didn’t know what we were doing.’ Now he comes up and he tells us how to do this. Also everything that he said about the way — every single move that he said we should make — that’s what we’ve done, we’ve done all of it, but he was way behind us.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: My responses is, he is xenophobic but not because he shut down access from China. And he did it late, after 40 countries had already done that. In addition to that, what he did, he made sure that we had 44 people that were in there, in China, trying to get to Wuhan to determine what exactly the source was. What did the President say in January? He said no, he said, this is — he’s being transparent, the president of China is being transparent. We owe him a debt of gratitude. We have to thank him. And then what happened was, we started talking about using the Defense Act, to make sure we go out and get whatever is needed out there to protect people. And again, I go back to this, he had nothing. He did virtually nothing. And then he gets out of the hospital, and he talks about we’re, this is, ‘Oh, don’t worry. This is all going to be over soon.’ Come on, there’s not another serious scientist in the world who thinks it’s going to be over soon.
WELKER: President Trump, your reaction?
TRUMP: I did not say over soon. I say we’re learning to live with it. We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does. He has the ability to lock himself up. I don’t know, he’s obviously made a lot of money, someplace, but he has this thing about living in a basement. People can’t do that. By the way, I, as the president, couldn’t do that. I’d love to put myself in the basement or in a beautiful room in the White House and go away for a year and a half until it disappears. I can’t do that. And Kristen — every, every meeting I had — every meeting I had — and I’d meet a lot of families, including Gold Star families and military families, every meeting I had — and I had to meet them, I had to, it would be horrible to have canceled everything. I said, you know, this is dangerous. And you catch it. And you know, I caught it. I learned a lot. I learned a lot, great doctors, great hospitals. And now, I recovered. 99.9 of young people recover. 99% of people recover. We have to recover. We can’t close up our nation, we have to open our school, and we can’t close up our nation, or you’re not going to have a nation.
WELKER: And of course the CDC has said young people can get sick with COVID-19 and can pass it. Vice President Biden, I want to talk broadly about strategy, though.
BIDEN: Can I respond to that?
WELKER: 30 seconds please, and then I have a question.
BIDEN: Number one. He says that we’re, you know, 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 their, 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 — he 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.
WELKER: Let me talk about —
TRUMP: Excuse me.
WELKER: Very quickly.
TRUMP: I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault. And you know what, it’s not Joe’s fault that it came here either. It’s China’s fault. They kept it from going into the rest of China, for the most part, but they didn’t keep it from coming out to the world including Europe and ourselves.
WELKER: Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: The fact is, that when we knew it was coming, when it hit — what happened? What did the President say? He said don’t worry, it’s going to go away, be gone by Easter. Don’t worry, the warm weather. Don’t worry, maybe inject bleach — he said he was kidding when he said that, but a lot of people thought it was serious. A whole range of things the President said. And even today, he thinks we are in control. We’re about to lose 200,000 more people.
WELKER: President Trump.
TRUMP: Look, perhaps just to finish this, I was kidding on that but just to finish this. When I closed, he said, I shouldn’t have closed. And that went on for months. What Nancy Pelosi said the same thing. She was dancing on the streets in Chinatown in San Francisco. But when I closed, he said, this is a terrible thing. You’re xenophobic. I think he called me racist, even, and because I was closing it to China. Now he says I should have closed it earlier. It just, Joe, it doesn’t work.
BIDEN: I didn’t say either of those things.
TRUMP: You certainly did.
BIDEN: I talked about his xenophobia in a different context. It wasn’t about closing the border to Chinese coming to the United States.
WELKER: All right, I want to talk about both of your different strategies to handling this.
TRUMP: He thought I shouldn’t have closed the border. That’s obvious.
WELKER: Do you want to respond to that quickly, Vice President Biden?
WELKER: OK, let’s talk about your different strategies toward dealing with this. Mr. Vice President, you suggested you would support new shutdowns if scientists recommended it. What do you say to Americans who are fearful that the cost of shutdowns, the impact on the economy, the higher rates of hunger, depression, domestic and substance abuse, 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 his ineptitude that caused the country to have to shut down in large part — why businesses have gone under, why schools are closed, why so many people have lost their living and why they’re concerned. Those other concerns are real. That’s why he should have been — instead of in a sand trap at his golf course — he should have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats and Republicans about what to do about the acts they were passing for billions of dollars to make sure people had the capacity.
WELKER: Well you haven’t ruled out more shutdowns.
BIDEN: Oh no, I’m not shutting down the nation but there are, look, they need standards. The standard is, if you have a reproduction rate in a community that’s above a certain level, everybody says, slow up. More social distancing. Do not open bars and do not open gymnasiums. Do not open until you get this under control, under more control. But when you do open, give the people the capacity to be able to open and have the capacity to do it safely. For example schools — schools, they need a lot of money to open. They need to deal with ventilation systems, they need to deal with smaller classes, more teachers, more pods, and he’s refused to support that money, or at least up to now.
WELKER: Let’s talk about schools. President Trump —
TRUMP: Well, I think we have to respond, if I might.
WELKER: Please, and then I have a follow up.
TRUMP: Thank you, and I appreciate that. Look, all he does is talk about shutdowns but forget about him. His democrat governors — Cuomo in New York, you look at what’s going on in California, you look at Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Democrats, Democrats all — they are shut down so tight, and they’re dying. They’re dying. And he supports all these people. All he talks about is shutdowns. No, we’re not going to shut down, and we have to open our schools. And it’s like, as an example, I have a young son. He also tested positive. By the time I spoke to the doctor, the second time, he was fine, it just went away. Young people, I guess it’s their immune system.
WELKER: Let me follow up with you, President Trump. You’ve demanded schools open in person and insisted they can do it safely. But just yesterday, Boston became the latest city to move its public school system entirely online after a coronavirus spike. What is your message to parents who worry that sending their children to school will endanger not only their kids, but also their teachers and families?
TRUMP: I want to open the schools. The transmittal rate to the teachers is very small, but I want to open the schools. We have to open our country. We’re not going to have a country. You can’t do this, we can’t keep this country closed. It is a massive country with a massive economy. People are losing their jobs, they’re committing suicide. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level that nobody’s ever seen before. There’s abuse, tremendous abuse. We have to open our country. You know I’ve said it often — the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that’s what’s happening, and he wants to close down. He’ll close down the country if one person in our, in our massive bureaucracy says we should close it down.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response.
BIDEN: Simply not true. We’re gonna be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We ought to be able to safely open, but they need resources to open. You need to be able to, for example, if you’re gonna open a business, have social distancing within the business. You need to have, if you have a restaurant, you need to have plexiglass dividers so people cannot infect one another. You need to be in a position where you can take testing rapidly and know whether a person is, in fact, infected. You need to be able to trace. You need to be able to provide all the resources that are needed to do this and that is not inconsistent with saying that we’re going to make sure that we open safely. And by the way, all you teachers out there — not that many of you are going to die, so don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. Come on.
WELKER: President Trump, let me follow up with you quickly.
TRUMP: By the way, I will say this, if you go and look at what’s happened to New York, it’s a ghost town. It’s a ghost town. And when you talk about plexiglass — these are restaurants that are dying. These are businesses with no money. Putting up plexiglass is unbelievably expensive, and it’s not the answer. I mean, you’re going to sit there in a cubicle wrapped around with plastic? These are businesses that are dying, Joe, you can’t do that to people, you just can’t. Take a look at New York and what’s happened to my wonderful city. For so many years, I loved it. It was vibrant. It’s dying. Everyone’s leaving New York.
WELKER: Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: Take a look at what New York has done in terms of turning the curve down, in terms of the number of people dying. And I don’t look at this in terms of the way he does, blue states and red states. They’re all the United States. And look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They’re the red states. They are the states in the Midwest, they are the states in the upper Midwest, that’s where the spike is occurring significantly, but they’re all Americans. They’re all Americans and what we have to do is say, wear these masks, number one, make sure we get the help that the businesses need. The money’s already been passed to do that. It’s been out there since the beginning of the summer and nothing’s happened.
TRUMP: Kristen, New York has lost more than 40,000 people. 11,000 people in nursing homes.
WELKER: President Trump, what about —
TRUMP: When you say spike, take a look at what’s happening in Pennsylvania, where they’ve had it closed. Take a look at what’s happening with your friend in Michigan, where her husband’s the only one allowed to do anything. It’s been like a prison. Now it was just ruled unconstitutional. Take a look at North Carolina. They’re having spikes and they’ve been closed, and they’re getting killed financially. We can’t let that happen, Joe, you can’t let that happen. We have to open up and we understand the disease, we have to protect our seniors, we have to protect our elderly, we have to protect, especially, our seniors with heart problems and diabetes problems, and we will protect them. We have the best testing in the world by far. That’s why we have so many cases.
WELKER: Let me follow up with you before we move on to our next section. President Trump, this week you called Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s best known infectious disease expert, “a disaster.” You described him and other medical experts as “idiots.” If you’re not listening to them, who are you listening to?
TRUMP: I’m listening to all of them, including Anthony. I get along very well with Anthony. But he did say, ‘don’t wear masks.’ He did say, as you know, ‘this is not going to be a problem.’ I think he’s a Democrat, but that’s okay. He said, ‘this is not going to be a problem. We are not going to have a problem at all.’ When Joe says that, I said — Anthony Fauci said and others and many others. And I’m not knocking him. Nobody knew. Look, nobody knew what this thing was, nobody knew where it was coming from, what it was. We’ve learned a lot, but Anthony said, ‘don’t wear masks.’ Now he wants to wear masks. Anthony also said, if you look back, exact words, here’s his exact words: ‘This is no problem, this is going to go away soon.’ So he’s allowed to make mistakes, he happens to be a good person.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response, quickly and then we’re going to move on to the next section.
BIDEN: My response is that, think about what the President knew in January and didn’t tell the American people. He was told this was a serious virus that spread in the air, and it was much worse than — much worse — than the flu. He went on record and said to one of your colleagues, recorded, that in fact he knew how dangerous it was but he didn’t want to tell us, didn’t want to tell us because he didn’t want us to panic. He didn’t want us — Americans don’t panic. He panicked. But, guess what, in the meantime, we find out in the New York Times the other day that in fact, his folks went to Wall Street and said, ‘this is a really dangerous thing,’ and a memo out of that meeting — not from his administration, but from some of the brokers — said, ‘sell short, because we gotta get moving. It’s a dangerous problem.’
TRUMP: Well this is —
WELKER: I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond and then we’re gonna move on.
TRUMP: I don’t know, somebody went to Wall Street. You’re the one that takes all the money from Wall Street. I don’t take it. You have raised a lot of money, tremendous amounts of money. And every time you raise money, deals are made, Joe. I could raise so much more money. As president and as somebody that knows most of those people, I could call the heads of Wall Street, the heads of every company in America, I would blow away every record. But I don’t want to do that because it puts me in a bad position. And then you bring up Wall Street? You shouldn’t be bringing up Wall Street. Because you’re the one that takes the money from Wall Street, not me. I could blow away your records like you wouldn’t believe. We don’t need money. We have plenty of money. In fact, we beat Hillary Clinton with a tiny fraction of the money that she was able to get. Don’t tell me about Wall Street.
WELKER: All right, gentlemen, we’re gonna move on.
BIDEN: Average contribution, $43.
WELKER: All right, we’re gonna move on to our next section which is national security. And I do want to start with the security of our elections and some breaking news from overnight. Just last night, top intelligence officials confirmed again that both Russia and Iran are working to influence this election. Both countries have obtained U.S. voter registration information, these officials say, and Iran sent intimidating messages to Florida voters. This question goes to you, Mr. Vice President, what would you do to put an end to this threat? You have two minutes, uninterrupted.
BIDEN: I made it clear. And I asked everyone else to take the pledge. I made it clear that any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price. They will pay a price. It has been overwhelmingly clear in this election — I won’t even get into the last one — this election, that Russia has been involved. China has been involved to some degree, and now we learned that, 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. And to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think the President has said anything to Putin about it. I don’t think he’s talking to him a lot. I don’t think he’s said a word. I don’t know why he hasn’t said a word to Putin about it. And I don’t know what he has recently said, if anything, to the Iranians. My guess is he’d probably be more outspoken with regard to the Iranians. But the point is this, folks. We are in a situation where we have foreign countries trying to interfere in the outcome of our election. His own national security advisor told him that what is happening with his buddy — well, I won’t, I shouldn’t — I will — 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. And then you find out that everything is going on here about 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. I don’t understand why this President is unwilling to take on Putin when he’s actually paying bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, when he’s engaged in activities that are trying to destabilize all of NATO. I don’t know why he doesn’t do it but it’s worth asking the question. Why isn’t that being done? Any country that interferes with us will, in fact, pay a price because they’re affecting our sovereignty.
WELKER: President Trump, same question to you. Let me, let me ask the question. You’re gonna have two minutes to respond for two elections in a row now there has been substantial interference from foreign adversaries. What would you do in your next term to put an end to this? Two minutes, uninterrupted.
TRUMP: Well, let me respond to the first part, as Joe answered. Joe got three and a half million dollars from Russia. And it came through Putin, because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow and it was the mayor of Moscow’s wife. You got three and a half million dollars. Your family got three and a half million dollars and you know someday, you’re gonna have to explain — why did you get three and a half? I never got any money from Russia. I don’t get money from Russia. Now, about your thing last night, I knew all about that, and through John — who is John Radcliffe, who is fantastic, DNI — he said, the one thing that’s common to both of them, they both want you to lose. Because there has been nobody tougher to Russia. Between the sanctions, nobody tougher than me on Russia. Between the sanctions between all of what I’ve done with NATO. You know, I’ve got the NATO countries to put up an extra 130 billion, going to $420 billion a year, that’s to guard against Russia. I sold — while he was selling pillows and sheets — I sold tank busters to Ukraine. There has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump. And I’ll tell you, they were so bad. They took over the, the submarine port. You remember that very well during your term, during you and Barack Obama. They took over a big part of what should have been Ukraine. You handed it to them. But you were getting a lot of money from Russia. They were paying you a lot of money and they probably still are, but now, with what came out today, it’s even worse. All of the emails, the emails are horrible. The emails of the kind of money that you were raking in, you and your family. And Joe, you were vice president when some of this was happening. And it should have never happened. And I think you owe an explanation to the American people. Why is it, somebody just had a news conference a little while ago, who was essentially supposed to work with you and your family, but what he said was damning. And regardless of me, I think you have to clean it up and talk to the American people. Maybe you can do it right now.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, you may respond and then I do want to follow up on the election security.
BIDEN: I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life. We learn that this President paid 50 times the tax in China, has a secret bank account with China, does business in China, and in fact, is talking about me taking money? I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever, ever, number one. Number two, this is a president — I have released all of my tax returns. 22 years. Go look at them. 22 years of my tax returns. You have not released a single solitary year of your tax return. What are you hiding? Why are you unwilling? The foreign countries are paying you a lot. Russia is paying you a lot. China is paying a lot. And your hotels and all your businesses all around the country, all around the world. And China’s building a new road to a new gas… a golf course you have overseas. So what’s going on here? Why don’t you release your tax return or stop talking about corruption?
WELKER: President Trump, your response.
TRUMP: First of all, I called my accountants — under audit. I’m going to release them as soon as we can. I want to do it, and it will show how successful, how great this company is. But much more importantly than that, people were saying $750. I asked them a week ago, I said, what did I pay? They said, sir, you pre-paid tens of millions of dollars. I prepaid my tax. Tens. Over the last number of years. Tens of millions of dollars, I prepaid, because at some point, they think, it’s an estimate. They think I may have to pay tax. So, I already prepaid it. Nobody told me that.
WELKER: Did your accountant tell you —
TRUMP: Excuse me. And it wasn’t written whenever they write this. They keep talking about $750, which I think is a filing fee. But let me just tell you, I prepaid millions and millions of dollars in taxes, number one. Number two, I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine, you do. I don’t make money from Russia. You made three and a half million dollars, Joe, and your son gave you. They even have a statement that we have to give 10% to the big man. You’re the big man, I think. I don’t know, maybe you’re not. But you’re the big man, I think. Your son said we have to give 10% to the big man. Joe, what’s that all about? It’s terrible.
WELKER: Alright, gentlemen, I want to ask you both some questions about all of this. I’m gonna let you both respond, very quickly. You just said you spoke to your accountant about potentially releasing your taxes. Did he tell you when you can release them? Do you have a deadline for when you’re going to release them to the American people?
TRUMP: I get treated worse than the Tea Party got treated. A lot of people in there, deep down in the IRS, they treat me horribly. We made a deal, it was all settled, until I decided to run for president. I get treated very badly by the IRS, very unfairly, but we had a deal all done. As soon as we’re completed with the deal, I want to release it. But I have paid millions and millions of dollars. And it’s worse than paying. I paid in advance. It’s called prepaying your taxes.
WELKER: I want to ask you both about questions regarding your potential foreign entanglements and questions that have been raised to give you both a chance to talk about this more broadly.
BIDEN: At some point I want to respond.
WELKER: Respond very quickly, and then I’ll get to my question.
BIDEN: Why do he — He’s been saying this for four years. Show us. Just show us. Stop playing around. You’ve been saying for four years you’re going to release your taxes. Nobody knows, Mr. President, what they do know is you’re not paying your taxes or you’re paying taxes that are so low. When last time he said what he paid, he said, ‘I only pay that little because I’m smart. I know how to game the system.’ Come on, come on, folks.
WELKER: Quickly, President Trump, and then I want to get to two questions to both of you.
TRUMP: I was put through a phony witch hunt for three years. It started before I even got elected. They spied on my campaign. No president should ever have to go through what I went through. 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, because the kind of things that you’ve done and the kind of monies that your family has taken — I mean, your brother made money in Iraq, millions of dollars. Your other brother made a fortune, and it’s all through you, Joe. And they say you get some of it. And you do live very well. You have houses all over the place. You live very well.
WELKER: All right, gentlemen, let me just ask some questions about all of this broadly. Vice President Biden, there have been questions about the work your son has done in China, and for a Ukrainian energy company when you were Vice President. In retrospect, was anything about those relationships inappropriate or unethical?
BIDEN: Nothing was unethical. Here’s what the deal. With regard to Ukraine, we had this whole question about whether or not, because he was on the board, I later learned, of Burisma, a company, that somehow I had done something wrong. Yet every single solitary person, when he was going through his impeachment, testifying under oath who worked for him, said I did my job impeccably. I carried out US policy. Not one, single, solitary thing was out of line. Not a single thing, number one. 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. My son has not made money in terms of this thing about — what are you talking about — China. I have not had it. The only guy that made money from China is this guy. He’s the only one. Nobody else has made money from China.
WELKER: President Trump, let me ask my question to you.
TRUMP: Could I just — one thing.
WELKER: Very quickly.
TRUMP: His son didn’t have a job for a long time, was sadly no longer in the military service, I won’t get into that. And he didn’t have a job. As soon as he became vice president, Burisma — not the best, not the best reputation in the world — I hear they paid him 183,000 a month. Listen to this, 183, and they gave him a $3 million upfront payment, and he had no energy experience. That’s 100% dishonest.
WELKER: I’m going to let the vice president respond to that quickly and then I have a question for you.
BIDEN: No basis for that. Everybody investigated that, no one said anything he did was wrong in Ukraine.
WELKER: OK, President Trump, this is for you. Since you took office, you’ve never divested from your business. You’ve personally promoted your properties abroad. A report this week, which was referenced, does indicate that your company has a bank account in China. So how can voters know that you don’t have any foreign conflicts of interest?
TRUMP: I have many bank accounts and they’re all listed and they’re all over the place. I mean, I was a businessman doing business. The bank account you’re referring to — which is, everybody knows about it, it’s listed — the bank account was in 2013. That’s what it was. It was opened. It was closed in 2015, I believe, and then I decided, because I was going to do, I was thinking about doing a deal in China, like millions of other people, I was thinking about it. And I decided I’m not going to do it, didn’t like it, I decided not to do it, had an account open and I closed it.
TRUMP: Excuse me, and then unlike him, where he’s Vice President, and he does business, I then decided to run for president after that. That was before. So I closed it before I even ran for president, let alone became president, big difference. He is the Vice President of the United States, and his son, his brother and his other brother are getting rich, they’re like a vacuum cleaner, there’s something —
WELKER: Okay, President Trump, thank you. We do need to move on. I do want to ask you, Vice President Biden, about China. Let’s talk about China more broadly. There have, of course, President Trump has said that they should pay for not being fully transparent in regards to the coronavirus. If you were president, would you make China pay and please be specific, what would that look like?
BIDEN: What I’d make China do is play by the international rules, not like he has done. He has caused the deficit in China to go up not down — with China, up not down. We are making sure that in order to do business in China, you have to give all your intellectual property. You have to get/have a partner in China, it is 51%. We would not do that at all, number one. Number two, we’re in a situation where China would have to play by the rules internationally as well. 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 gonna fly through them. We just flew B52/B1 bombers through it. We’re not going to pay attention.’ They have to play by the rules, and what’s he do? He embraces guys like the thugs like in North Korea, and, and, and the Chinese president and Putin and others, and he pokes his finger in the eye of all our friends, all of our allies. We make up only — we’re 25%. 25% of the world’s economy. We need to be having the rest of our friends with us, saying to China, these are the rules. You play by them or you’re going to pay the price for not playing by them, economically. That’s the way I will run it. And that’s what we did and upholding steel tariffs and a range of other things when we were president and vice president.
WELKER: All right, let’s talk about North Korea.
TRUMP: Excuse me, no, I have to respond to this.
WELKER: OK, very quickly and then we’re gonna move on to North Korea…
TRUMP: His son walked out with a billion and a half dollars from China —
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP: — after spending 10 minutes in office and being in Air Force Two, number one. Number two, there’s a very strong email, talking about your family wanting to make $10 million a year for introductions.
BIDEN: That is not true.
WELKER: President Trump, on China policy, though. What are you gonna do? What specifically are you going to do to make China pay? You’ve said you’re going to make them pay.
TRUMP: First of all, China is paying. They’re paying billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion.
WELKER: New sanctions?
TRUMP: I just gave $28 billion to our farmers.
BIDEN: Taxpayers money.
TRUMP: It’s what?
BIDEN: Taxpayers money.
TRUMP: No, you know who the taxpayer is. It’s called China.
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP: China paid $28 billion and you know what they did to pay it, Joe? They devalued their currency and they also paid up, and you know who got the money? Our farmers. Our great farmers, because they were targeted. You never charge 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.
WELKER: OK, Vice President Biden, your response, please?
BIDEN: My response is look, this isn’t about – there’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey. There’s a reason for it. He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family’s hurting badly. If you’re making less than, if you’re a middle class family, you’re getting hurt badly right now. You’re sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding, well, we can’t get new tires, they’re bald, because we have to wait another month or so. Or are we going to be able to pay the mortgage? Who’s going to tell her, she can’t go back to community college? They’re the decisions you’re making in the middle class families like I grew up in Scranton and Claymont. They’re in trouble. We should be talking about your families but that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.
WELKER: I want to talk about North Korea –
TRUMP: That is a typical statement. Excuse me, just for one second, please.
WELKER: 10 seconds, Mr. President, 10 seconds.
TRUMP: That’s a typical political statement. Let’s get off this China thing, and then he looks — the family, around the table, everything. Just a typical politician when I see that.
WELKER: Alright, let’s talk —
TRUMP: I’m not a typical politician, that’s why I got elected.
WELKER: Let’s talk about —
TRUMP: Let’s get off the subject of China, let’s talk around sitting around the table. Come on, Joe, you can do better.
WELKER: We’re gonna talk about North Korea now. President Trump, you’ve met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times. You’ve talked about your beautiful letters with him, you’ve touted the fact that there hasn’t been a war or a long range missile test, and yet North Korea recently rolled out its biggest ever intercontinental ballistic missile and continues to develop its nuclear arsenal. Do you see that as a betrayal of the relationship you forged? Just 30 seconds here because we need to get on to the next topic.
TRUMP: So, when I met with Barack Obama, we sat in the White House, right at the beginning had a great conversation, was supposed to be 15 minutes and it was well over an hour. He said the biggest problem we have is North Korea. He indicated we will be in a war with North Korea. Guess what, it would be a nuclear war, and he does have plenty of nuclear capability. In the meantime, I have a very good relationship with him, different kind of a guy but he probably thinks the same thing about me. We have a different kind of a relationship. We have a very good relationship, and there’s no war. And you know, about two months ago, he broke into a certain area. They said, ‘oh there’s going to be trouble.’ I said, ‘No, they’re not. Because he’s not going to do that.’ And I was right. Look, instead of being in a war where millions of people — Seoul, you know, is 25 miles away, millions and millions, 32 million people in Seoul — millions of people would be dead right now. We don’t have a war, and I have a good relationship.
WELKER: Vice President Biden to you, North Korea conducted four nuclear tests under the Obama administration. Why do you think you would be able to rein in this persistent threat?
BIDEN: Because I’d make it clear, which we were making clear to China, they had to be part of the deal, because here’s the root. I made it clear, as a spokesperson for the administration when I went to China, that they said, ‘Why are you moving your missile defense up so close? Why are you moving more forces here? Why are you continuing to do military maneuvers with South Korea?’ I said, ‘Because North Korea is a problem. And we’re going to continue to do it so we can control them. We’re going to make sure we can control them and make sure they cannot hurt us. And so 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, a thug, and he talks about how we’re better off, and they have much more capable missiles, able to reach U.S. territory, much more easily than ever did before.
WELKER: Let me follow up with you, Vice President Biden, you’ve said you wouldn’t meet with Kim Jong Un without preconditions. Are there any conditions under which you would meet with him?
BIDEN: On the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity to get – the Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear free zone.
WELKER: Alright, let’s move on to American families.
TRUMP: Kristen, they tried to meet with him.
WELKER: Very quickly. 10 seconds, President Trump.
TRUMP: They tried to meet with him, he wouldn’t do it. He didn’t like Obama. He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.
WELKER: OK, I’ve got to give him a chance to respond.
TRUMP: They tried, he wouldn’t do it. And that’s okay. You know what, North Korea, we’re not in a war. We have a good relationship. You know, people don’t understand — having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing.
WELKER: President Trump, we have to move on. We have a lot of questions to get through.
BIDEN: We had a good relationship with Hitler before he in fact invaded Europe, the rest of Europe. Come on. The reason he would not meet with President Obama is because President Obama said we’re gonna talk about denuclearization, we’re not gonna legitimize you, we’re gonna continue to put stronger and stronger sanctions on you. That’s why he wouldn’t meet with us.
TRUMP: And it didn’t happen.
WELKER: Let’s move on and talk about American families.
TRUMP: Excuse me, he left me a mess, Kristen. They left me a mess. North Korea was a mess.
WELKER: We need to move on so that we have time to get to all our questions tonight, President Trump.
TRUMP: Remember the first two or three months. There was a very dangerous period in my first three months, before we sort of worked things out a little bit. They left us a mess, and Obama would be – I think, the first to say — it was the single biggest problem, he thought, that our country had.
WELKER: Okay, let’s move on to American families and the economy. One of the issues that’s most important to them is health care, as you both know. Today, there was a key vote on a new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and healthcare is at the center of her confirmation fight. Over 20 million Americans get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It’s headed to the Supreme Court, and your administration, Mr. President, is advocating for the court to overturn it. If the Supreme Court does overturn that law, those 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance almost overnight. So what would you do if those people have their health insurance taken away? You have two minutes uninterrupted.
TRUMP: First of all, I’ve already done something that nobody thought was possible. Through the legislature, I terminated the individual mandate. That is the worst part of Obamacare, as we call it. The individual mandate – where you have to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health insurance. I terminated it; it’s gone. 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. Pre-existing conditions will always stay. What I would like to do is a much better health care, much better. We’ll always protect people with pre-existing — so I’d like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new beautiful health care. The Democrats will do it because there’ll be tremendous pressure on them. And we might even have the House by that time. And I think we’re going to win the House, okay? You’ll see, but I think we’re gonna win the House. But come up with a better health care, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions — and one thing very important. We have 180 million people out there that have great private health care, far more than we’re talking about with Obamacare. Joe Biden is going to terminate all of those policies. These are people that love their health care, people that have been successful — middle income people — been successful. They have 180 million plans, 180 million people, families under what he wants to do, which will basically be socialized medicine. He won’t even have a choice. They want to terminate 180 million plans. We have done an incredible job on health care. And we’re going to do even better.
WELKER: OK. Vice President Biden, yes, this is for you. Your health care plan calls for building on Obamacare. So my question is, what is your plan if the law is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court? You have two minutes uninterrupted.
BIDEN: What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option — become Bidencare. Public option is an option that says that if you, in fact, do not have the wherewithal to be — 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 for, with 20 candidates for the nomination, was I support private insurance. That’s why I did not — not one single person, 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. Lastly, we’re going to make sure we’re in a situation that we actually protect pre-existing — there’s no way he can protect pre-existing conditions. None, zero, you can’t do it in the ether. He’s been talking about this for a long time. There is no — he’s never come up with a plan. I guess we’re gonna get the pre-existing condition plan the same time we get the infrastructure plan that we waited since 17, 18, 19, 20. The fact — I still have a little, a few more minutes, I know you’re getting anxious — the fact is that he’s already cost the American people because of his terrible handling of the COVID virus and economic spillover. 10 million people have lost their private insurance, and he wants to take away 22 million more people who have been under Obamacare, and over 110 million people with pre-existing conditions. And all the people from COVID are going to have pre-existing conditions. What are they gonna do?
WELKER: I have a follow up for you, Vice President Biden, it relates to something that President Trump said. He’s accusing you of wanting socialized medicine. What do you say to people who have concerns that your health care plan, which includes a government insurance option, takes the country one step closer to a health care system run entirely by the government? What’s your response to that?
BIDEN: I say, it’s ridiculous. It’s like saying that, you know, we’re the idea 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 — I think health care is not a privilege, it’s a right. Everyone should have the right to have affordable health care. And I am very proud of my plan. It’s gotten endorsed by all the major labor unions as well as, as well as a whole range of other people who in fact, are concerned in the medical field. This is something that’s going to save people’s lives. And this is going to give some people an opportunity, an opportunity to have health care for their children, how many of you home are worried and rolling around in bed at night wondering what in God’s name are you going to do if you get sick? Because you’ve lost your home insurance, your health insurance, your company’s gone under. We have to provide health insurance for people at an affordable rate, and that’s what I’d do.
WELKER: President Trump, your response.
TRUMP: Excuse me, he was there for 47 years — he didn’t do it. He was now there as Vice President for eight years. And it’s not like it was 25 years ago, it was three and three quarters. It was just a little while ago, right? Less than four years ago. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t do it. He wants socialized medicine. And it’s not that he wants it, his vice president — I mean, she is more liberal than Bernie Sanders and wants it even more. Bernie Sanders wants it, the Democrats want it. You’re going to have socialized medicine. Just like you went on with fracking — ‘We’re not going to have fracking, we’re going to stop fracking, we’re going to stop fracking.’ Then he goes to Pennsylvania after he gets the nomination — where he got very lucky to get it. And he goes to Pennsylvania, and he says, ‘Oh, we’re gonna have fracking.’ And you never asked that question. And by the way, so far, I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say. But somebody should ask the question. He goes for a year —
WELKER: We do have a number of — we have a number of topics –
TRUMP: No, no, but that’s a big question —
WELKER: We’re gonna get to it —
TRUMP: It’s the same thing with socialized medicine.
WELKER: Vice President, your response please.
BIDEN: My response is people deserve to have affordable health care — period. Period, period, period. And the Bidencare proposal will, in fact, provide for that affordable health care, lower premiums. 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, you can buy into the better plans, the cheaper plans, lower your premiums, deal with unexpected billing, and have your drug prices drop significantly. He keeps talking about it. He hasn’t done a thing for anybody on health care, not a thing.
TRUMP: Kristen, when he says —
WELKER: Very quickly, then I want to talk about what’s happening on Capitol Hill.
TRUMP: When he says public option, he is talking about socialized medicine and health care. When he talks about a public option, he’s talking about destroying your Medicare, totally destroying — and destroying your Social Security. And this whole country will come down. You know, Bernie Sanders tried it in his state. He tried it in his state. His governor was a very liberal governor, they wanted to make it work —
WELKER: Let’s see if —
TRUMP: — it was impossible to work, it doesn’t work —
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response.
BIDEN: He’s a very confused guy, he thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them. Joe Biden, he’s running against. And the idea that we’re in a situation and are going to destroy Medicare — this is the guy that the actuary of Medicare said, ‘If in fact’ — and, social security — ‘If, in fact, he continues to withhold his plan to withhold the tax on Social Security, Social Security will be bankrupt by 2023, with no way to make up for it. This is a guy who’s tried to cut Medicare. So I don’t know. I mean, the idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on Social Security and Medicare? Come on.
TRUMP: He tried to get rid of —
WELKER: Ten seconds, Mr. President, then I have to go to another question —
TRUMP: — he tried to hurt Social Security years ago, years ago. Go back and look at the records. He tried to hurt Social Security years ago. One thing —
WELKER: Alright, let’s move on. Mr. President I have to move on to the next question.
TRUMP: They say the stock market will boom if I’m elected. If he’s elected, the stock market will crash.
WELKER: OK, let’s move on to the next question.
BIDEN: May I respond?
WELKER: Very quickly.
BIDEN: The idea that the stock market is booming is his only measure of what’s happening. Where I come from, in Scranton and Claymont, the people don’t live off of the stock market. Just in the last three, three years during this crisis, the billionaires in this country made, according to the Wall Street, $700 billion more dollars. $700 billion more dollars. Because that’s his only measure. What happens to the ordinary people out there? What happens to them?
TRUMP: 401k’s are through the roof. People’s stock are through the roof —
WELKER: We’re going to move on.
TRUMP: And he doesn’t come from Scranton. That’s like, what — he lived there for a short period of time before he even knew —
WELKER: We’re gonna move on —
TRUMP: And he left. And the people of Pennsylvania will show you that.
WELKER: — to my next question, gentlemen. As of tonight, more than 12 million people are out of work. And as of tonight, 8 million more Americans have fallen into poverty, and more families are going hungry every day. Those hit hardest are women and people of color. They see Washington fighting over a relief bill. Mr. President, why haven’t you been able to get them the help they need? 30 seconds here.
TRUMP: Because Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve it. I do.
WELKER: But you’re the president.
TRUMP: I do. But I still have to get, unfortunately — that’s one of the reasons I think we’re going to take over the House, because of her. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve anything. Because she’d love to have some victories on a date called November 3rd. Nancy Pelosi does not want to approve it. We are ready, willing and able to do something. Don’t forget, we’ve already approved three plans. And it’s gone through, including the Democrats, in all fairness. This one she doesn’t want. It’s near the election, because she thinks it helps her politically. I think it hurts her politically.
WELKER: Alright, Mr. Vice President —
BIDEN: You know, the Republican leader in the United States Senate said he can’t pass it — he will not be able to pass it. He does not have Republican votes. Why isn’t he talking to his Republican friends?
WELKER: Let me follow up with you, Vice President Biden –
TRUMP: If we made a deal, the Republicans would pass it —
WELKER: Let me ask Vice President Biden a question. You are the leader of the Democratic Party. Why have you not pushed the Democrats to get a deal for the American people?
BIDEN: Well, I have and they have pushed it. Look, they passed this act all the way back in the beginning of the summer. This is like — it’s not new. It’s been out there. 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 communities that have to balance their budget to states that have to balance their budgets, so then they have to fire fire — they have to fire firefighters, teachers, first responders, law enforcement officers, so they could keep their cities and counties running. He will not support that. They have not done a thing for them. And Mitch McConnell said, ‘Let him go bankrupt. Let him go bankrupt.’ Come on. What’s the matter with these guys.
TRUMP: The bill that was passed in the House was a bailout of badly run high crime, Democrat, all run by Democrats, cities and states. It was a way of getting a lot of money, billions and billions of dollars to these cities. It was also a way of getting a lot of money from our people’s pockets to people that come into our country illegally. We were going to take care of everything for them. And what that does, and I’d love to do that, I’d love to help them. But what that does, everybody all over the world will start pouring into our country. We can’t do it. This was a way of taking care of them. This was a way of spending on things that had nothing to do with COVID, as for your question, but it was really a big bailout for badly run Democrat cities and states.
WELKER: I want —
BIDEN: If I get elected, I’m not gonna — I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m gonna be an American president. I don’t see red states and blue states. What I see is American, United States. And folks, every single state out there finds themself in trouble. They’re going to start laying off, whether they’re red or blue. Cops, firefighters, first responders, teachers — because they have to balance their budget. And the founders were smart. They allowed the federal government to deficit spend to compensate for the United States of America.
WELKER: I want to talk about the minimum wage, gentlemen. Mr. Vice President, we are talking a lot about struggling small businesses and business owners these days. Do you think this is the right time to ask them to raise the minimum wage? You, of course, support a $15 minimum wage.
BIDEN: I do, because I think one of the things we’re gonna have to do is we’re gonna have to bail them out, too. We should be bailing them out now, those small businesses. You’ve got one in six of them going under. They’re not going to be able to make it back. They passed a package that allows us to be able to call PPP, money’s supposed to go to help them do everything from organize how they could deal with their businesses being open safely. Schools, how they can make classrooms smaller, how they can hire more teachers, how they can put ventilation systems in. They need the help, the businesses, as well as the schools, need the help. But this, these guys will not help them. He is not giving them any of the money.
WELKER: We are going to move on to immigration —
TRUMP: One thing very quickly. He said we have to help our small businesses — by raising the minimum wage? That’s not helping. I think it should be a state option. Alabama is different than New York, New York is different from Vermont. Every state is different. It should be a state option. We have to help, it’s very important. We have to help our small businesses —
WELKER: You said —
TRUMP: 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.
WELKER: You said very recently you would consider raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour —
TRUMP: Say it?
WELKER: You said recently you would consider raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Is that still the case?
TRUMP: What I’d really like, and I would consider it to an extent. What I’d really like — in a second administration — but not to a level that’s going to put all these businesses out of business. It should be a state option. Look, I’ve looked at different places, I know different places. They’re all different. Some places, $15 is not so bad. In other places, other states, $15 would be —
WELKER: OK, President Trump, thank you. Quick response, Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: No one should work two jobs, one job and be below poverty. People are making 6, 7, 8 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.
WELKER: We’re going to talk about immigration. We’re going to talk about immigration, now, gentlemen, and we’re going to talk about families within this context. Mr. President, your administration separated children from their parents at the border, at least 4000 kids. You’ve since reversed your zero tolerance policy, but the United States can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children. So how will these families ever be reunited?
TRUMP: Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country. We now have a stronger border as we’ve ever had. We’re over 400 miles of brand new wall, you see the numbers, and we let people in, but they have to come in legally and they come in through –
WELKER: But how will you reunite these kids with their families?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you. They built cages. You know, they used to say I built the cages. And then they had a picture in a certain newspaper. There was a picture of these horrible cages and they said, ‘Look at these cages, President Trump built them.’ And then it was determined they were built in 2014. That was him.
WELKER: Do you have a plan to reunite the kids?
TRUMP: Yes, we’re working on it very — we’re trying very hard. But a lot of these kids come out without the parents, they come over through cartels and through coyotes and through gangs.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, let me bring you into this conversation. Quick response and then another question to you.
BIDEN: These 500 plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. Big, real tough, we’re really strong. And guess what? They cannot — it’s not, 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.
WELKER: Let me ask you a follow up —
TRUMP: Kristen, they did it, we changed the policy. They did it. We changed it. They set the cages. Who built the cages?
BIDEN: So let’s talk about —
TRUMP: Who built the cages, Joe?
BIDEN: Let’s talk about what we’re talking about. What happened? Parents were ripped — their kids were ripped from their arms and separated. And now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It’s criminal. It’s criminal.
WELKER: Let me ask you —
TRUMP: Kristen, I will say this. They went down, we brought reporters and everything. They are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean —
WELKER: But some of them haven’t been reunited —
TRUMP: But just ask one question. Who built the cages? I’d love you to ask that, who built the cages?
WELKER: Let me ask about your immigration policy, Mr. Vice President. The Obama administration did fail to deliver immigration reform, which had been a key promise during the administration. 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. Took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States. And the fact is, I’ve made it very clear, within 100 days, I’m going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people. And all 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. The idea that they are being sent home by this guy, and they want to do that, is they go to a country they’ve never seen before. I can imagine you’re five years old, your parents are taking you across the Rio Grande River and it’s and it’s illegal. You say ‘Oh, no, Mom, leave me here. I’m not gonna go with you.’ They’ve been here. Many of them are model citizens. Over 20,000 of them are first responders out there taking care of people during this crisis. We owe them. We owe them.
WELKER: President Trump, your response.
TRUMP: Kristen, he had eight 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. He did nothing except build cages to keep children in.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: Wrong. The catch and release, you know what he’s talking about there? If in fact, you had a family, came across, they’re arrested. They, in fact, were given a date to show up for their hearing. They were released. And guess what, they showed up for a hearing. This is the first President in the history of the United States of America that anybody seeking asylum has to do it in another country. That’s never happened before in America. That’s never happened before in America. You come to the United States and you make your case. That I seek asylum based on the following premise, why I deserve it under American law. They’re sitting in squalor on the other side of the river.
WELKER: President Trump, there is —
TRUMP: It’s so important. It just shows that he has no understanding of immigration or the laws. Catch and release is a disaster. A murderer would come in, a rapist would come in, a very bad person would come in — we would take their name, we have to release them into our country. And then you say they come back. Less than 1% of the people come back.
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP: We have to send ICE out and Border Patrol out to find them. We would say, ‘Come back in two years, three years — we’re going to give you a court case. You did Perry Mason, we’re going to give you a court case. When you say they come back, they don’t come back, Joe. They never come back. Only the really — I hate to say this — but those with the lowest IQ, they might come back. But there are very very few.
WELKER: OK, President Trump, let’s give Vice President Biden a chance to respond, and then we’re going to move on to the next section.
TRUMP: You don’t know the law, Joe.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response.
BIDEN: I know the law. What he’s telling you is simply not true.
TRUMP: They don’t come back.
BIDEN: Check it out.
WELKER: Alright, let’s move on —
TRUMP: But we don’t have to worry about it because I terminated it. So we don’t have to worry about it.
WELKER: Alright, let’s move on to the next section —
BIDEN: You have 525 kids not knowing where in God’s name they’re going to be and lost their parents.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
WELKER: Alright. Let’s talk about our next section, which is race in America. And I want to talk about the way Black and Brown Americans experience race in this country. Part of that experience is something called “the talk.” It happens 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, including by the police, for no reason other than the color of their skin. Mr. Vice President, in the next two minutes, I want you to speak directly to these families. Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?
BIDEN: I do. I do. You know, my daughter is a social worker. And she’s written a lot about this. She has a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in social work. And you know, one of the reasons why I ended up working on the East side of Wilmington, Delaware, which is 90 percent African American, was to learn more about what was going on. What I didn’t — I never had to tell my daughter if she’s pulled over, make sure she puts, 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, when you’re walking down the street, don’t have a hoodie on when you go across the street, making sure that you, in fact, if you get pulled over, yes sir, no sir, hands on top of the wheel. Because you are in fact, a victim, whether you’re a person making 300,000 — $300,000-a-year person, or someone who’s on food stamps. The fact of the matter is there is institutional racism in America. And we have always said — we’ve never lived up to it. That we hold these truths to be self-evident, all men and women are created equal. But guess what — we have never ever lived up to it. But we have constantly been moving the needle further and further to inclusion, not exclusion. This is the first president come along and says that’s the end of that. We’re not going to do that anymore. We have to provide for economic opportunity, better education, better health care, better access to schooling, better access to opportunity to borrow money to start businesses. All the things we can do. And I’ve laid out a clear plan as to how to do those things. Just to give people a shot. It’s about accumulating the ability to have wealth, as well as it is to be free from violence.
WELKER: President Trump, same question to you. And let me remind you of the question, I would like you to speak directly to these families. Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?
TRUMP: Yes, I do. And again, 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 they were called, and he called them, super predators. And he said that, he said it — super predators. And they have never lived that down. 1994, your crime bill, the super predators. Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump. 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. Criminal justice reform, Obama and Joe didn’t do it. I don’t even think they tried because they had no chance at doing it. They might have wanted to do it. But if you had to see the arms I had a twist to get that done, it was not a pretty picture. And everybody knows it including some very liberal people that cried in my office–they cried in the Oval Office. Two weeks later, they’re out saying, ‘Gee, we have to defeat him.’ Criminal justice reform, prison reform, opportunity zones with Tim Scott, a great senator from South Carolina. He came in with this incredible idea for opportunity zones. It’s one of the most successful programs. People don’t talk about it. Tremendous investment is being made. Biggest beneficiary, the Black and Hispanic communities and then historically Black colleges and universities. After three years of coming to the office, I love some of those guys, they were great, they came into the office. And they said– I said, ‘What are you doing after three years?’ I said, ‘Why do you keep coming back?’ ‘Because we have no funding’. I said, ‘You don’t have to come back every year’, ‘We have to come back’, because President Obama would never give them long term funding. And I did. Ten-year, long term funding, and I gave them more money than they asked for, because I said, ‘I think you need more’. And I said, ‘The only bad part about this is I may never see you again’, because I got very friendly with them and they like me and I like them. But I saved historically black colleges and universities.
WELKER: OK. And we’re going to talk about both of your records, but your response to that Vice President?
BIDEN: My response to that is I never, ever said what he accused me of saying. The fact of the matter is, in 2000 though, after the crime bill had been in the law for a while, this is the guy who said, ‘The problem with the crime bill, there’s not enough people in jail. There’s not enough people in jail,’ and go on my website, get the quote, the date when he said it, ‘not enough people’. He talked about marauding gangs, young gangs, the people who are going to maraud our cities. This is a guy who when the Central Park five, five innocent Black kids, he continued to push for making sure that they got the death penalty. None of them were — none of them were guilty of what the crime, of the crimes that were suggested. Look, and talk about he, granted, he did in fact let 20 people — he commuted 20 people’s sentences. We commuted over 1,000 people’s sentences. Over 1,000. The very law he’s talking about is a law that, in fact, initiated by Barack Obama. And secondly, we’re in a situation here where we — the federal prison system was reduced by 38,000 people under our administration. And one of these things we should be doing is there should be no, no minimum mandatories in the law. That’s why I’m offering $20 billion to states to change their state 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. We should fundamentally change the system and that’s what I’m going to do.
TRUMP: But why didn’t he do it four years ago? Why didn’t you do that four years ago, even less than that? Why didn’t you–
BIDEN: I am not–
TRUMP: You were vice president. You keep talking about all these things you’re going to do and you’re going to do this. But you were there just a short time ago and you guys did nothing.
BIDEN: We did–
TRUMP: You know, Joe, I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job, I would have never run. I would’ve never run. I ran because of you. I’m looking at you now, you’re a politician. I ran because of you.
WELKER: Alright, Vice President Biden, your response to that? And then I do have some questions for both of you.
BIDEN: Well, I’ll tell you what, I hope he does look at me because what’s happening here is you know who I am, you know who he is, you know his character, you know my character, you know our reputations for honor and telling the truth. I am anxious to have this race. I’m anxious to see this take place. I am — the character of the country is on the ballot. Our character is on the ballot. Look at us closely.
WELKER: Let me ask them some follow–
TRUMP: Excuse me–
WELKER: Please respond and then we’re gonna have follow up questions.
TRUMP: If this stuff is true about Russia, Ukraine, China, other countries, Iraq — If this is true, then he’s a corrupt politician. So don’t give me the stuff about how you’re this innocent baby. Joe, they’re calling you a corrupt politician–
BIDEN: Nobody says–
WELKER: President Trump, I want to stay on the issue of race. We’re talking about the issue–
TRUMP: It’s the laptop from hell.
WELKER: President Trump, we’re talking about race right now and I do want to stay on the issue of race. President Trump—
BIDEN: Nobody– Kristen, I have to respond to that.
WELKER: Please, very quickly.
BIDEN: Look, there are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this, he’s accusing me of is a Russian plan. They have said that this has all the characteristics — four– five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except him and his good friend Rudy Giuliani.
TRUMP: You mean, the laptop is now another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax? You gotta be–
BIDEN: That’s exactly what — That’s exactly what–
TRUMP: Is this where you’re going? This is where he’s going. The laptop is Russia, Russia, Russia?
WELKER: Gentleman, I want to stay on the issue of race, okay —
TRUMP: You have to be kidding. Here we go again with Russia. Boy oh boy.
WELKER: We’re going to continue on the issue of race. Mr. President, you’ve described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate. You’ve shared a video of a man chanting white power to millions of your supporters. You’ve said that Black professional athletes exercising their first amendment rights should be fired. What do you say to Americans who say that kind of language from a president is contributing to a climate of hate and racial strife?
TRUMP: Well you have to understand the first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter they were chanting ‘pigs in a blanket’, talking about police, ‘pigs, pigs’, talking about our police, ‘pigs in a blanket, fry’ em like bacon’. I said, ‘That’s a horrible thing’. And they were marching down the street. And that was my first glimpse of Black Lives Matter. 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.
WELKER: What do you say to Americans who are concerned by that rhetoric?
TRUMP: I don’t, I don’t know what to say. I got criminal justice reform done, and prison reform, and opportunity zones. I took care of Black colleges and universities. I don’t know what to say. They can say anything. I mean, they can say anything. It’s a very — it makes me sad because I am the least racist person. I can’t even see the audience because it’s so dark, but I don’t care who’s in the audience. I’m the least racist person in this room.
WELKER: OK. Vice President Biden, let me ask you – very quickly, and then I have a follow up question for you.
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, every single one. He started off his campaign coming down the escalator saying he’s gonna get rid of those Mexican rapists. He’s banned Muslims because they’re Muslims. He has moved around and made everything worse across the board. He says to them about the ‘Poor Boys’, last time we were on stage here. He said, ‘I told him to stand down and stand ready’. Come on. This guy has a dog whistle about as big as a fog horn.
WELKER: President Trump, I’m going to give you 10 seconds to respond and then I have a follow up question.
TRUMP: He made a reference to Abraham Lincoln. Where did that come in? I mean —
BIDEN: You said you were Abraham Lincoln.
TRUMP: No, no. Where did that – no no, I said not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done what I’ve done for the Black community. I didn’t say ‘I’m Abraham Lincoln’. I said, ‘Not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done but what I’ve done for the Black community’. Now you have done nothing other than the crime bill, which put–
BIDEN: Oh, God.
TRUMP: Tens of thousands of Black men, mostly, in jail. And you know what? They remember it because if you look at what’s happening with the voting right now, they remember that you treated them very, very badly. Just take a look at what’s happening out there.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, let me give you a chance to respond within this context. 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. They are sons, they are brothers, they are fathers, they’re uncles whose families are still to this day, some of them, suffering the consequences. So speak to those families, why should they vote for you?
BIDEN: One of the things is that in the ’80s, we passed 100%, all 100 senators voted for it, a bill on drugs and how to deal with drugs. It was a mistake. I’ve been trying to change it 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 on. That’s why I set up drug courts which were never funded by Republican friends. They should not be going to jail for a drug or an alcohol problem. They should be going into treatment. Treatment. That’s what we’ve been trying to do. That’s what I’m going to get done because the American people have now seen that in fact, it was a mistake to pass those laws related to drugs. But they were not in the crime bill.
TRUMP: But why didn’t he get it done? See, it’s all talk, no action with these politicians. Why didn’t he get it done? ‘That’s what I’m gonna do when I become president’. You were vice president, along with Obama as your President, your leader, for eight years. Why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years to get it done? Now, you’re saying you’re gonna get it done because you’re all talk and no action, Joe.
BIDEN: We got a lot of it done. We released 38,000 — We got 38,000 prisoners left from —
TRUMP: You didn’t get anything done. You got nothing done.
BIDEN: 38,000 prisoners were released from federal prison. We have — there were over 1000 people who were given clemency. We — in fact, we’re the ones that put in the legislation saying we could look at pattern or practice of police departments and what they were doing, how they were conducting themselves. I could go on, but we began the process. We began the process. We lost an election. That’s why I’m running to win back that election and change his terrible policy.
TRUMP: I just ask — I just ask one question: why didn’t you do it in the eight years, a short time ago? Why didn’t you do it? You just said, ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to do this.’ You put tens of thousands of mostly Black young men in prison. Now you’re saying you’re going to get — you’re going to undo that. Why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years with Obama? You know why, Joe, because you’re all talk and no action.
WELKER: Alright, Vice President Biden and then we’re gonna move on to the next section.
BIDEN: We had a Republican Congress. That’s the answer.
TRUMP: Well, you gotta talk — you gotta talk ’em into it, Joe. Sometimes you gotta talk ’em into it.
WELKER: Alright, we’re gonna move on to our next section which is climate change-
TRUMP: Like I did with criminal justice reform. I had to talk Democrats into it.
WELKER: Gentlemen, we’re running out of time so we gotta get on to climate change, please. You both have very different visions on climate change. President Trump, you say that environmental regulations have hurt jobs in the energy sector. Vice President Biden, you have said you see addressing climate change as an opportunity to create new jobs. For each of you, how would you both combat climate change and support job growth at the same time? Starting with you, President Trump, you have two minutes uninterrupted.
TRUMP: So we have the trillion trees program, we have so many different programs. I do love the environment, but what I want is the cleanest, crystal clear water, the cleanest air. We have the best, lowest number in carbon emissions, which is a big standard that I noticed Obama goes with all the time. Not Joe. I haven’t heard Joe use the term because I’m not sure he knows what it represents or means, but I have heard Obama use it. And we have the best carbon emission numbers that we’ve had in 35 years. Under this administration, we are working so well with industry, but here’s what we can’t do — Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India. It’s filthy. The air is filthy. The Paris Accord, I took us out because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly. When they put us in there, they did us a great disservice. They were going to take away our businesses. I will not sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies because of the Paris Accord. It was so unfair. China doesn’t kick in until 2030. Russia goes back to a low standard and we kicked in right away. It would have been — It would have been– It would have destroyed our businesses. So, you ready? We have done an incredible job environmentally. We have the cleanest air, the cleanest water and the best carbon emission standards that we’ve seen in many, many years.
WELKER: Vice President Biden —
TRUMP: And we haven’t destroyed our industries.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, two minutes to you uninterrupted.
BIDEN: Climate change, climate warming, global warming is an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it. And we’re told by all the leading scientists in the world we don’t have much time. We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years. Four more years of this man eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate, to clean up — to limit the — limit of emissions, will put us in a position where we’re going to be in real trouble. Here’s where we have a great opportunity. I was able to get both all the environmental organizations as well as labor, the people worried about jobs, to support my climate plan. Because what it does, it will create millions of new, good-paying jobs. We’re going to invest in, for example, 500,000 — 50,000, excuse me, 50,000 charging stations on our highways so that we can own the electric car market in the future. In the meantime, China’s doing that. We’re going to be in a position where we’re going to see to it that we’re going to take 4 million existing billion, buildings and 2 million existing 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. And by the way, the whole idea of what this is all going to do, it’s going to create millions of jobs and it’s going to clean the environment. Our health and our jobs are at stake. That’s what’s happening. And what — right now, by the way, Wall Street firm has indicated that my plan — my plan will, in fact, create 18.6 million jobs, 7 million more than his. This from Wall Street and I’ll create $1 trillion more in economic growth than his proposal does, not on climate just on the economy.
WELKER: President Trump, your response —
TRUMP: They came out and said very strongly, ‘$6,500 will be taken away from families under his plan’, that his plan is an economic disaster. If you look at what he wants to do, you know the, if you look at his plan, his environmental plan, you know who developed it? AOC+3. They know nothing about the climate. I mean, she’s got a good line of stuff, but she knows nothing about the climate. And they’re all hopping through hoops for AOC+3. Look, their real plan costs $100 trillion. If we had the best year in the history of our country for 100 years, we would not even come close to a number like that. When he says buildings, they want to take buildings down because they want to make bigger windows into smaller windows. As far as they’re concerned, if you had no window it would be a lovely thing. This is the craziest plan that anybody has ever seen. And this wasn’t done by smart people. This wasn’t done by anybody. Frankly, I don’t even know how it can be good politically. They want to spend $100 trillion. That’s their real number. He’s trying to say it was six. It’s $100 trillion. They want to knock down buildings and build new buildings with little tiny, small windows and many other things. And many other things–
WELKER: Alright — okay, let me have the vice president respond and we’re running out of time and we have a lot more questions to get to. So let’s hear from the Vice President. I have a number of more questions.
BIDEN: I don’t know where he comes from. I don’t know where he comes up with these numbers. $100 trillion? Give me a break. This plan was — This plan has been endorsed by every major — every major environmental group and every labor group. Labor. Because they know the future lies, the future lies in us being able to breathe. And they know they’re good jobs in getting us there. And by the way, the fastest growing industry in America are –is, is, is the electric — excuse me, solar energy and wind. He thinks wind causes cancer, windmills. It’s the fastest growing jobs and they pay good prevailing wages, 45, 50 bucks an hour. We can grow and we can be cleaner, if we go the route I’m proposing.
WELKER: President Trump — please respond and then I have some follow ups.
TRUMP: Excuse me. We are energy independent for the first time. We don’t need all of these countries that we had a fight, war over because we needed their energy. We are energy independent. I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive, kills all the birds, it’s very intermittent. It’s got a lot of problems and they happen to make the windmills in both Germany and China. And the fumes coming up — if you’re a believer in carbon emission, the fumes coming up to make — make these massive windmills is more than anything that we’re talking about with natural gas, which is very clean. One other thing —
BIDEN: Find me a scientist that says that.
TRUMP: Solar. I love solar, but solar doesn’t quite have it yet. It’s not powerful enough yet to — to really run our big beautiful factories that we need to compete with the world —
TRUMP: So, it’s all a pipe dream, but you know what we’ll do? We’re gonna have the greatest economy in the world. But if you want to kill the economy, get rid of your oil industry. You want – and what about fracking?
WELKER: Alright. Let me allow Vice President Biden to respond —
BIDEN: I have never said I oppose fracking.
TRUMP: You said it on tape.
BIDEN: I did? Show the tape. Put it on your website.
TRUMP: I’ll put it on.
BIDEN: Put it on the website. The fact of the matter is he’s flat lying.
WELKER: Would you rule out banning fracking?
BIDEN: I do rule out banning fracking because the answer we need — 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 into — it’s a transition to that.
WELKER: I have one more question —
TRUMP: Excuse me. He was against fracking. He said it. I will show that to you tomorrow. ‘I am against fracking’, until he got the nomination, went to Pennsylvania, then he said — you know what, Pennsylvania? He’ll be against it very soon because his party is totally against it.
BIDEN: Fracking on federal land, I said, no fracking and oil on federal land —
WELKER: Let me ask this final question in this section and then I want to move on to our final section. President Trump, people of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. In Texas there are families who worry the plants near them are making them sick. Your administration has rolled back regulations on these kinds of facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?
TRUMP: The families that we’re talking about are employed heavily and they are making a lot of money, more money than they’ve ever made. If you look at the kind of numbers that we produce for Hispanic, or Black, or Asian, it’s nine times greater, the percentage gain than it was under — in three years — than it was under eight years of the two of them, to put it nicely. Nine times more. Now, somebody lives — I have not heard the numbers or the statistics that you’re saying — but they’re making a tremendous amount of money. Economically, we saved it. And I saved it again a number of months ago when oil was crashing because of the pandemic. We saved it. We got — say what you want of that relationship, we got Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Russia to cut back, way back. We saved our oil industry and now it’s very vibrant and everybody has very inexpensive gasoline. Remember that.
WELKER: Vice President Biden, your response and then we’re going to have a final question for both of you.
BIDEN: My response is that those people live on what they call ‘fence lines’. He doesn’t understand this. They live near chemical plants that, in fact, 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 all the more oil refineries in Marcus Hook and the Delaware River than there is any place, including in Houston at the time. When my mom would get in the car when there were first frost to drive me to school, turned on the windshield wipers there’d be 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 doesn’t matter what you’re paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? And you impose restrictions on the pollutions, on the pollutants coming out of those fence line communities.
WELKER: OK, I have one final question —
TRUMP: Would he close down the oil industry — would you close down the oil industry?
BIDEN: I would transition from the oil industry, yes.
TRUMP: Oh, transition. That’s a big statement.
BIDEN: It is a big statement because I would stop —
WELKER: Why would you do that?
BIDEN: Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly — but here’s the deal —
TRUMP: I see. That’s a big statement.
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 stop giving to the oil industry — I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. You won’t give federal subsidies to the gas and, excuse me, to solar and wind. Why are we giving it to oil industry?
TRUMP: We actually do give it to solar and wind–
WELKER: Alright, we have one final question —
TRUMP: And that’s maybe the biggest statement in terms of business, that’s the biggest statement.
WELKER: Okay, we have one final question. Mr. President —
TRUMP: Because basically what he’s saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?
WELKER: Vice President Biden, let me give you ten seconds to respond and then I have to get to the final question. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: He takes everything out of context, but the point is, look, we have to move toward a net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production. By 2050, totally.
WELKER: Alright. One final question —
TRUMP: Is he gonna get China to do it? Is he going to get China to do it?
WELKER: No, we’re finished with this. We have to move on to our final question.
BIDEN: No, I’m going to rejoin the Paris Accord and make China abide by what they agreed to.
TRUMP: That’ll cost you $1 trillion.
WELKER: This is about leadership, gentlemen, and this first question does go to you, President Trump. Imagine this is your Inauguration Day. What will you say in your address to Americans who did not vote for you? You’ll each have one minute, starting with you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it and we’re doing record numbers, 11.4 million jobs in a short period of time etc. But, I will tell you, go back before the plague came in, just before, I was getting calls from people that were not normally people that would call me. They wanted to get together. We had the best Black unemployment numbers in the history of our country, Hispanic, women, Asian, people with diplomas, with no diplomas, MIT graduates, number one in the class — everybody had the best numbers. And you know what? The other side wanted to get together. They wanted to unify. 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’ve never seen. Your 401K’s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.
WELKER: Alright. Vice President Biden, same question to you. What will you say during your inaugural address to Americans who did not vote for you?
BIDEN: 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’re represented. I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to move. We’re going to choose science over fiction. We’re going to choose hope over fear. We’re going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better. 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. And that’s the fact, that’s what we’re going to do. 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. Honor. Respect. Treating people with dignity. Making sure that everyone has an even chance. Now, I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven’t been getting it the last four years.
WELKER: Alright. I want to thank you both for a very robust hour and a half, a fantastic debate. Really appreciate it. President Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden. Thank you to Belmont University for hosting us tonight and most importantly, thank you to those watching tonight. Election Day is November 3rd. Don’t forget to vote. Thank you everyone and have a great night.