If you were worried Thursday's debate was going to be a repeat of September's master class in interruption, you might have been pleasantly surprised. For most of the night.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden kept things generally civil for a large portion of the debate that touched on COVID-19, immigration and foreign relations, among other issues. That doesn't mean the night was totally without barbs.
Here are some of the top moments from the second and final presidential debate of the 2020 election:
Trump: Americans ‘learning to live’ with coronavirus; Biden: People are ‘learning to die’ with it
Trump said he wants America to learn how to live with the reality of coronavirus. But Biden thinks precautions still need to be taken as the virus surges in some communities across the nation.
Trump, who took the first question on how his administration is going to deal with the latest surge in cases, said the mortality rate has decreased and that the surges will go away.
“We’re fighting it, and we’re fighting it hard,” Trump said. “There’s some spikes and surges in other places, and they will soon be gone.”
Biden responded by criticizing the president for not doing more to prevent the deaths of 220,000 Americans from the virus so far.
“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America,” Biden said.
When discussing what he would do to combat the virus, Biden said he would urge everyone to wear a mask, create programs for rapid testing, and create national standards for reopening schools and businesses.
“We’re in a circumstance where the president still has no plan,” the former vice president said. “I will take care of this.”
The president maintained that the U.S. is "rounding the turn on the pandemic.”
"We're learning to live with it. We have no choice,” Trump said. “We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.”
The former vice president shot back, "He says ‘we're learning to live with it.’ People are learning to die with it."
Relationships with China, professionally and personally
Trump again accused Biden and his son, Hunter, of taking money from China, which the former vice president quickly denied.
Biden said he’s “not taken a penny” from any foreign country after the president raised allegations that Biden made money in a business deal involving China with his son Hunter.
“I think you have to clear it up and talk to the American people,” Trump said, raising allegations elevated in a New York Post story last week that revealed purported emails from Hunter Biden and his former business associates.
“He’s talking about me taking money from China? I’ve not taken a penny from any country. Ever. Ever. Ever,” Biden continued after raising recent reports that Trump has a secret bank account in China. Biden pointed to Trump not releasing his tax returns after promising to do so for years, saying, “What are you hiding?”
Trump answered that he did have a Chinese bank account and it wasn't a secret, adding that he wants to release his tax returns but also said he would continue to withhold them. He also said he had closed his Chinese bank account.
The president’s tax returns would detail whether Trump still had the account, but he has refused to release them, arguing he can't because they are under audit. But an audit does not require Trump to keep his tax returns private.
Biden also hit Trump on his administration’s policies toward China. Biden said that he would crack down on China economically and cut the trade deficit that has ballooned since Trump imposed tariffs on the country.
“They have to play by the rules,” Biden said of China.
‘I think he thinks he’s running against somebody else’: Biden hits back on accusation of socialized medicine
Trump unleashed a familiar line of attack against Biden on health care, accusing him of “talking about socialized medicine.” Trump said that Biden would be influenced by his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
But the former vice president has campaigned against the adoption of a single-payer health care system, and instead proposed expanding the Affordable Care Act with a public option, which he called “Bidencare” on stage.
Responding to the accusation of moving toward socialized medicine, Biden pointed out that he beat other candidates in the Democratic primary who are further to the ideological left.
“I think he thinks he’s running against somebody else,” Biden said. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”
Biden said his plan would reduce drug prices and premiums by allowing patients through the Medicare program to negotiate drug prices with insurance companies.
“We’re going to make sure we’re in a situation where we’re actually going to protect preexisting conditions” he added. “He’s never come up with a plan.”
Trump said he would come up with “a brand new, beautiful health care plan” if the ACA is overturned. He ran originally on repealing and replacing the ACA, but so far has given few details about what a replacement plan would look like.
Trump said the elimination of the individual mandate, which required most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine, got rid of the “worst” part of the ACA, and said he would protect those with preexisting conditions. Those protections are already enshrined under the ACA, but Trump did not offer details on how he would ensure protection under a new GOP plan.
Trump defends immigration policies, Biden says he’ll give a pathway to citizenship for ‘Dreamers’
For the first time in the presidential and vice presidential debates, immigration policy was brought up.
Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which separated migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing that they are unable to locate the parents of 545 children who were among the families separated at the border in 2017 and 2018.
"We're trying very hard, but a lot of these kids come up without the parents. They come over through cartels and the coyotes," Trump said when asked how he plans to reunite those families.
The president went on to claim that the Obama administration instituted the separation policy and his administration carried it out. But it was the Trump administration's s zero tolerance policy that resulted in the separations. The administration later admitted it began separating families under a pilot program in 2017.
Continuing on the topic of immigration, Biden said he will propose legislation to find pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants brought over by their parents or guardians at a young age as one of his first steps as president.
Many of those children, known as “Dreamers,” got temporary reprieve under the Obama administration but now live in fear of deportation under Trump. Over the summer, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's plan to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“They’re going to be immediately certified again to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship” rather than “sent home to a country they’ve never seen before,” Biden said of his plan. “Many of them are model citizens. Over 20,000 of them are first responders out there taking care of people during this crisis. We owe them.”
When asked why the Obama administration did not do more to protect them, Biden conceded that it “took too long to get it right.”
Trump also continued to hit the Obama administration for “building cages” to hold migrants. The Obama administration built migrant holding facilities with the intended purpose to hold migrant children for 72 hours before releasing them to federal agencies for placement.
The president also said "those with the lowest IQ, they might come back," referring to immigrants who are detained and then released before a scheduled court date.
A debate that was slightly more calm than the slug-fest in September
The final presidential debate could not have begun more differently than the first one; while Biden and Trump had a few tense moments and interruptions, the tone overall was much more restrained than before — at least in the first half.
In their first face-off, the two candidates frequently interrupted each other, with Trump scolded for cutting off his opponent more frequently. After all the crosstalk in the first debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates said each candidate who have two minutes of uninterrupted time to answer the initial question in each topic section. The other candidate would have their microphone muted.
Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News asked the candidates to speak one at a time: “The goal is for you to hear each other and for the American people to hear every word of what you both have to say.”
It was a more subdued Trump who came to the stage on Thursday. The candidates both got through their initial answers to opening questions about the coronavirus pandemic uninterrupted.
At one point, when Trump and Biden were discussing allegations of corruption in both their finances, the president held up his hands while Biden spoke as if to intervene, but he held back until it was his turn.
Trump for the most part avoided the kinds of interruptions characteristic of the first debate, but he still pushed back hard on the former vice president. At times, he continued speaking when signaled by Welker to wrap up and insisted on responding to Biden. But he gave Biden much more time to speak compared to their meeting on Sept. 29.
At one point Trump asked Welker if he could respond to a Biden criticism. When Welker said he could, Trump responded: "Thank you, I appreciate that."
It wasn’t until after about 40 minutes had passed that the two started with some of the more familiar crosstalk, as they sparred over their dealings in China. When Trump made accusations about Biden’s family, Biden interjected with “not true,” and Trump continued to speak over the moderator.
One heated exchange happened about halfway through during a discussion on North Korea.
“He’s legitimized North Korea,” Biden said, speaking about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “He's talked about his good buddy who's a thug, a thug.”
Trump responded that it’s important to have good relationships with other leaders. “We’re not at war,” he said.
Biden shot back that the nation had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe.
The debate got more contentious as the night wore on.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Presidential debate results: Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s top moments