The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night was a far less bombastic and notorious affair, something that didn’t go unnoticed by local Democrats and Republicans.
Though he’s a Republican, Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business executive director Andy Caldwell wasn’t pleased with President Trump’s performance at the first debate. He remarked that whereas Mr. Biden “refused to tell the truth,” President Trump “obfuscated the truth” by interrupting his interlocutor and refusing to stay within the debate parameters.
By contrast, Mr. Caldwell believes the president “comported himself” at Thursday night’s debate.
Under new rules created by the Commission on Presidential Debates, President Trump and Mr. Biden had their microphones cut off when making their first remarks on each of the debate topics. Both mics were turned on when each debate item moved into open discussion.
As far as Mr. Caldwell can see however, one holdover from the first debate was dishonesty from the former vice president.
“I was dumbshocked and flabbergasted that Biden denied so many things that are clearly manifest in open source materials,” he said.
The COLAB director and News-Press columnist particularly pointed out the former vice president shrugging off questions regarding allegations of corruption involving his son, Hunter Biden, and foreign energy firms in Ukraine and China. He also criticized the former vice president’s claim that he doesn’t want to ban fracking.
Mr. Caldwell deemed that the latter is ridiculous not only because Mr. Biden has stated in the past the direct opposite, but also because he indirectly contradicted that statement later in the debate by saying he wants to phase out the oil industry.
“He keeps equivocating that he’s not against fracking and that he’s not a supporter of the Green New Deal, but he absolutely is,” he said. “The proof is that he doesn’t want to ban fracking but he wants to ban oil and gas production. He contradicted himself in front of a national audience,”
Santa Barbara County Republican chairwoman Bobbi McGinnis praised President Trump’s debate performance and how he hit key points. She made mention of the coronavirus-ravaged economy across the United States that needs to finally open up, and how Mr. Biden has accomplished “nothing” despite serving in public office for 47 years.
Ms. McGinnis conceded that the former vice president did better than she expected and was “articulate for most of the night” despite losing his train of thought a few times. However, she accused Mr. Biden of hand waving away questions surrounding the corruption allegations against his family by calling them Russian disinformation, which Ms. McGinnis called “a typical Democrat response.”
“I feel that what we got from Joe Biden was rather than an explanation, it was more of a denial, that it doesn’t exist,” she said.
“I think that Biden is a corrupt politician,” she added.
The GOP chairwoman was also critical of the former vice president’s intent to do away with the oil industry, which she said would not only require America to depend on foreign and unfriendly countries for energy, but end up leaving us with alternatives that can’t generate enough power.
“Wind and solar power are not going to lift airplanes into the air,” she said.
Much like Mr. Caldwell, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, was pleased that the tenor of this debate wasn’t as aggressive as the first. She told the News-Press that President Trump was “less of a jerk” than he was during the first debate.
Nevertheless, Sen. Jackson doesn’t believe this debate changed any voters’ minds, particularly because of President Trump’s consistent focusing on the Hunter Biden controversy, which she said is simply a conspiracy theory disseminated through right-wing media.
She said of the president, “He kept trying to get to the Biden family corruption, and that just falls on deaf ears except those who believe these conspiracy theories.”
As for her own party’s presidential candidate, Sen. Jackson praised Mr. Biden going after some of Mr. Trump’s comments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He continues to underplay the COVID pandemic,” she said. “The notion that we have to learn to live with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans was frankly a shocking statement and I think Biden called him on it pretty well.”
Whereas Mr. Caldwell deemed the democratic candidate’s comments about wanting to phase out the oil industry a self-wounding, a self-wounding, roundabout admission of his desire to ban fracking, Santa Barbara County Democratic Party chair Gail Teton-Landis thought it was a strong point and said getting away from fossil fuels won’t happen immediately.
“I appreciated that Joe Biden talked about less dependency on fossil fuels. Obviously, it will take time to transition,” she said.