Election 2020

Joe Biden's Seven Worst Moments During the Final Debate

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Joe Biden did not have a great night during the second and final presidential debate. Despite being off the trail for five days, allegedly preparing, he couldn’t land many punches, and had several moments that just didn’t work well for him at all. Here are seven of them.

7. “Who built the cages, Joe?”

If Joe Biden thought he’d have the moral high ground on the issue of immigration during the debate, he failed to acquire it. When Biden accused President Trump of implementing child separation policy as a disincentive for illegal immigrants to come to this country, President Trump called him out.

“They got separated from their parents,” Biden argued. “And it makes us a laughing stock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

“They did it,” Trump retorted. “We changed the policy.”

And then Biden tried to claim that children were not separated under the Obama-Biden administration, and Trump came back with a zinger.

“Who built the cages? Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump asked Biden.

Biden tried to deflect, but Trump kept pressing Biden with the question, “Who built the cages?” And Biden said nothing, his face looking sullen because he knew the answer. He and Obama built them and separated children from their families.

Not a good moment for Joe.

6. His Obamacare whopper

Remember when Obama promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”?

Well, I do, and everyone who lost their health care plans because they weren’t Obamacare-compliant remember too. Even the left-wing fact-checking site  PolitiFact rated that claim the “Lie of the Year” back in 2013. As PJM’s Tyler O’Neil noted, at least 4 million Americans lost their health insurance under Obamacare.

Apparently, Joe Biden forgot, though because he claimed during the debate that “Not one single person on private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose something else.”

This moment opened the floodgates for comparisons to Barack Obama’s whopper and probably won’t do Biden any favors as people remember how they were lied to.

5. Opening the door to talking about the Hunter Biden scandal

In the days leading up to the debate, it was widely expected that President Trump would bring up Hunter Biden selling influence with his father if the moderator, Kristen Welker, did not. Some even thought that Trump would try to make it the focus of the entire debate. But as the debate progressed, and Trump wasn’t bringing it up, Joe Biden thought it was a good idea to bring it up instead.

“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,” claimed Biden. “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.”

This gave Trump the opening to talk about it, and boy did he ever. Trump brought up the $3.5 million Hunter Biden received from Russia, and the ten-percent cut Joe Biden reportedly got from Hunter’s business dealings with China. “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 that we have to give 10% to the big man. Joe, what’s that all about? It’s terrible.”

Biden of course denied that his son Hunter ever made money from China, a claim that is easily proven false.

“If this stuff is true about Russia, Ukraine, China, other countries, a wreck– If this is true, then he’s a corrupt politician,” Trump added later. “So don’t give me the stuff about how you’re this innocent baby. Joe, they’re calling you a corrupt politician.”

And then Trump mentioned Hunter Biden’s laptop. “It’s the laptop from hell. The laptop from hell.”

Biden took the bait and claimed the story was Russian disinformation.

“You mean, the laptop is now another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax?” Trump responded. “You gotta be—”

“That’s exactly what—that’s exactly what,” Biden blathered.

“Is this where you’re going? This is where he’s going. The laptop is Russia, Russia, Russia?” Trump mocked. “You have to be kidding here. Here we go again with Russia.”

Joe Biden opened the door to this discussion, and it didn’t do him any favors. Because much of the media has refused to report on the Hunter Biden laptop story, it’s safe to say that a large number of people were hearing about it for the first time. In fact, Google searches for “hunter biden laptop” peaked after the debate ended.

Good work, Joe!

4. ‘Show the tape!’

This moment was such a huge unforced error on Joe Biden’s party. When Trump pointed out Biden’s position on fracking, Biden not only denied it, when Trump pointed out he’s said so on tape, Biden’s response was, “I did? Show the tape. Put it on your website.”

“I’ll put it on,” Trump said.

“Put it on the website. The fact of the matter is he’s flat-lying.”

The Trump campaign posted the video before the debate was over:

Did Biden really forget he repeatedly promised to end fracking? Did he really not know there’s video of him saying so multiple times?

When Trump pointed out again that Biden opposes fracking, Biden interjected. “Fracking on federal Land, I said. No fracking or oil on federal land.”

But as the above video shows, he didn’t ever mention that caveat. Biden challenged Trump for evidence of his opposition to fracking, and Trump delivered that evidence. Even CNN called him out on it.

The exchange had other impacts as well. Pollster and data guru Patrick Ruffini noticed some search trends that don’t bode well for Biden.

I’m sure Biden regrets challenging Trump to show the tape.

3. Checking his watch

One of the most defining moments of the 1992 presidential campaign was when former President George H.W. Bush was caught looking at his watch during the town hall debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Many believed it made him appear disinterested and out of touch, as well as uncomfortable with his own debate performance. So it was hard not to think of that moment when Joe Biden similarly was caught looking at his watch during the debate, a moment, I believe, that demonstrated to the country that he knew he was losing.

If you think you’re winning the debate, you don’t check your watch, wondering when it’s going to be over.

2. Killing oil and natural gas

“Would you close down the oil industry?” asked Trump.

And Biden actually answered.  “I would transition from the oil industry. Yes,” he replied.

Trump knew at that point he’d succeeded in getting Biden to admit to something that would damage him. “Ohhhh,” he said. “That’s a big statement.”

“That’s the biggest statement. In terms of business, that’s the biggest statement,” Trump continued. “Because basically what he’s saying is he’s going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”

You could almost hear the excitement in Trump’s voice as he saw Biden’s hopes of winning Pennsylvania and Ohio slip away.

1. What was he doing for 47 years?

If there was a moment that Trump made the case for his reelection with undecideds and independents, it was when he repeatedly called out Joe Biden for his inability to solve problems during his lengthy career in politics.

Biden’s inability to respond to this did not go unnoticed or unmentioned by CNN’s Jake Tapper, of all people.

Trump was also able to effectively bolster his point by acknowledging his own successes, particularly those that help minorities.


Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis