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Trump, Biden to face off in final round of presidential debates

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-10-22 15:00

Stand-ins for candidates President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden approach the podiums as a stand-in for moderator Kristin Welker looks on during rehearsals for the second and final 2020 presidential campaign debate in the Curb Event Center that will host the October 22 debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, US, October 21, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden are to face off on Thursday for the final round of presidential debates ahead of the Nov 3 Election Day.

The final debate will start at 9:00 pm Eastern Time (0100 GMT Friday) in Nashville in the southern US state of Tennessee, and will cover six topics -- fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership. NBC journalist Kristen Weaker will be the moderator.

The US Commission on Presidential Debates on Monday announced a new rule around muting the microphones of Trump and Biden to give them each two uninterrupted minutes at the beginning of every debate segment in the upcoming final presidential debate.

"Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule," the commission said in a statement.

"For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates' microphones will be open," it added.

The first presidential debate, held on Sept 29, descended into chaos after heated exchanges and personal attacks bulldozed the 90-minute-plus debate between the two candidates.

Former US President Barack Obama on Wednesday hit the campaign trail for his former vice president Biden, saying that the country "can't afford" another four years of Trump in the White House and blasted Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic would have been tough for any president; we haven't seen something like this for 100 years ... But the degree of incompetence and misinformation, the number of people who might not have died had we just done the basics," Obama said at a roundtable with black community organizers in Philadelphia in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Obama also warned that Democrats must vote in record numbers to make sure that Biden wins a decisive victory. "We've got to turn out like never before... We cannot leave any doubt in this election. We cannot have any doubt."

Pennsylvania is widely seen as a pivotal swing state that could prove decisive in determining the election's outcome. And according to the RealClearPolitics website, Biden has a 7.9 point lead over Trump in an average of national polls.

Trump and Biden were originally scheduled to face off on Oct 16 in Miami at the now-canceled second presidential debate. The commission decided to stage the event virtually after Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct 1 but rejected the arrangement.

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