After a disorderly first debate rife with interruptions and snide remarks, the second and final presidential debate was “less chaotic” and more disciplined, according to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who watched last night’s program with her husband Bruce Mann and dog Bailey. (Bailey didn’t stay awake for all of it though.) The addition of a mute button certainly helped, as a crew member on the Commission on Presidential Debates would turn off one contestant’s mic while the other was speaking.
“I thought that telling both candidates there was going to be a mute button right at the beginning forced a little discipline into the debate,” Warren tells BAZAAR.com over the phone the morning after President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in Tennessee. “And since Donald Trump is completely undisciplined, that gave the debate a little more coherence than it otherwise would have had.”
Yes, the muting minimized interruptions, but it also did President Trump a favor by keeping his interjections off-camera. “I thought it was more helpful to Donald Trump because it put some curbs on his bizarre behavior, but it also meant we weren't seeing the real Donald Trump," Warren says. "The real Donald Trump is the one who shows up every morning in the White House to run this country and who doesn't have someone else operating a mute button.”
She adds, “The real Donald Trump is the one who's completely unfiltered and who threatens our nation. The real Donald Trump is the one who says that people are tired of hearing about a virus that has now killed more than 220 thousand Americans or that he loves the North Korean dictator. That's the real Donald Trump. And he's a scary guy.”
Warren thought Biden’s strongest moment was when he responded to Trump’s statement that Americans are “learning to live with” COVID-19. "Learning to live with it? Come on. We're dying with it," Biden said. That line “hit straight at the heart” for the senator, whose oldest brother, Donald Herring, died in April after testing positive for the virus. Following the president's unpopular response to the coronavirus health crisis, Warren and fellow Democrats are now calling on lawmakers prepare a plan for the next pandemic.
"I was stunned by how often Donald Trump lied. Even by Donald Trump's standards, the lies were piled deep," Warren says of her overall impressions of the debate. "I was also amazed that he trotted out the same old promises of this great healthcare policy that he plans to provide to the American people that, in four years now, no one has ever seen.”
The senator says the president’s “lies just got deeper and deeper” during the healthcare portion of the evening, during which he alleged that Joe Biden wants to “socialize medicine” and take away healthcare from millions of Americans. She hinted at Trump's hypocrisy as she pointed to the looming case where the Supreme Court will re-evaluate the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on November 10, a week after the election. If overturned, the decision “will take away healthcare from tens of millions of people, and take away protection for everyone in this country who has a pre-existing condition,” Warren says.
“For him to turn around then and say, Joe Biden is a threat to the health of Americans is just bizarre. Actually, I shouldn't say it's bizarre. Maybe I should take that back because it's classic Donald Trump.”
She continues, “He does what he wants to do. Take away healthcare for millions of Americans. That's the Republican position and that is the official Republican position. And the Republicans in Congress are supporting him on that, but he also understands that it is a very unpopular position and it is not what Americans want, and particularly not what they want in the middle of a pandemic. So his response is to do it both ways: He continues to give the Republican extremists what they want, trying to take away healthcare while he looks straight into the camera and tells the American people he is the person who will magically produce a healthcare plan that will work for everyone.”
Warren also calls out the president for “trying to tilt the field even more in his direction” by rushing to confirm a conservative justice to the Supreme Court before Election Day, something she and other outspoken Democrats are adamantly fighting. His nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (its Democrat members boycotted the vote) on Thursday and will face a Senate vote next week.
“Judge Barrett is being advanced to the Supreme court so that she can be the deciding vote to take away healthcare from millions of Americans, so that she can be the deciding vote to take away Roe v. Wade, so that she can be the deciding vote to crush unions, so that she can be the deciding vote to let corporations elevate profits over the survival of our planet,” Warren says.
“That's why we're in this fight to try to stop her, but it's also why the election on November 3rd is so important. If we can take back the White House, flip the Senate and expand our lead in the House, we can take some of this away from the Supreme Court and protect the health and safety of the American people through the legislative process. But that means we've got to win November 3rd.”
The Massachusetts Senator will be voting early and in person in her home state, she says. “I have my ballot and Bruce and Bailey and I are going to turn it in at Fresh Pond. … That's where Bailey walks Bruce and me every day.”
But come November 3, you won’t find her glued to the poll results as they come in, and she suggests you don’t either. “Do not watch it straight through. Nothing will be gained from watching the early early reports as two percent of the results are in and you're watching maps shift red, blue, red, blue.” Instead, Warren will be watching a feel-good movie or binge-watching a TV show, changing channels between poll results. While she hasn't planned her queue just yet, she remembers what she and Mann watched on Election Night in 2016: the latest season of HBO’s Ballers.
“It rests your brain,” she says of the distraction. “I take bites at what's happening during the election. I just can't watch it straight through.”
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