The second and final debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden was more civil and organized than the first, but not without personal attacks and interruptions.
Kristen Welker of NBC News has received praise for her assertiveness in handling the debate. But Trump has spoken about Biden and the moderator again, and he’s gone over his time more often than the former vice president. Both candidates used many of the same arguments and attacks from the first debate.
The discussion focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, American families, national security, and race. Candidates spent less than 15 minutes on climate change and did not cover leadership, one of the topics advertised.
Trump has stepped up his attacks on Biden’s son Hunter during a national security segment dominated by talks over taxes and the trade relations of candidates overseas. Still, Trump seemed calmer and more measured than in the first debate. There were less insults and incivility.
Allocation of speaking time for each debate topic
In terms of total time, the candidates were close. According to a USA TODAY analysis, Trump spoke two minutes longer than Biden.
Total speaking time during debate
The Presidential Debates Commission changed the format after the first debate saw candidates talking to each other for more than 20% of the total time. Trump and Biden’s microphones were switched off interchangeably during the two-minute opening remarks. For the next discussion, the microphones remained on.
There was less crosstalk than the first debate
Yet there were discussions and interruptions. According to USA TODAY’s tally, Trump interrupted Biden or Welker 50 times, while Biden interrupted him 37 times. In the previous debate, Trump interrupted questions from the moderator or his opponent 71 times while Biden was responsible for 22 interruptions, according to the Washington Post.
Trump’s interruptions overtook Biden’s
Trump repeatedly ignored and interrupted Welker while praising his performance. The moderator asked Trump to stop speaking 48 times because his time was up; she asked Biden only five times.
Kristen Welker had to interrupt Trump 48 times
Learn more about coverage of the debate: ‘Learning to live’ with COVID-19, Bidencare and other highlights of the final presidential debate