How Biden and Trump compared in the final presidential debate

Javier Zarracina, Karina Zaiets and Carlie Procell, USA TODAY
·2 min read

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 received praise for her assertiveness in handling the debate. But Trump again talked over Biden and the moderator and he exceeded his allotted speaking time more often than the former vice president. Both candidates used many of the same arguments and attacks from the first debate.

Discussion focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, American families, national security, and race. Candidates spent less than 15 minutes on climate change and didn't cover leadership, one of the announced topics.

Trump ramped up his attacks on Biden's son Hunter during a national security segment dominated by talk about taxes and candidates' business dealings abroad. Still, Trump sounded calmer and more measured than he did in the first debate. There were less insults and incivilities.

Breakdown of speaking time for each debate topic

In terms of total time, the candidates were close. According to a USA TODAY analysis, Trump talked two minutes more than Biden.

Total speaking time during debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates made changes to the format after the first debate saw candidates talking over one another for more than 20% of the total time. Trump and Biden's microphones were muted interchangeably during two-minute opening statements. For the following discussion, the mics were left on.

There was less crosstalk than the first debate

Still, there were talk-overs and interruptions. By USA TODAY's count, Trump interrupted either Biden or Welker 50 times, while Biden interrupted 37 times. During the previous debate, Trump interrupted either moderator’s questions or his opponent 71 times while Biden was responsible for 22 interruptions, according to the Washington Post.

Trump interruptions outpaced Biden's

Trump repeatedly ignored and interrupted Welker while also praising her 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

Read more debate coverage: ‘Learning to live’ with COVID-19, Bidencare and other top moments from the final presidential debate

Who is Kristen Welker? 5 things to know about the moderator of Thursday's presidential debate

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How Biden and Trump compared in the final presidential debate