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COVID-19 and climate change on list of topics for final presidential debate

The coronavirus pandemic and climate change will be among the topics discussed at the final presidential debate, moderator Kristen Welker announced Friday. The 90-minute debate will be held on Thursday, October 22, at Belmont University in Nashville.

According to a statement from the Commission on Presidential Debates, Welker has chosen to focus on:

  • Fighting COVID-19
  • American families
  • Race in America
  • Climate change
  • National security
  • Leadership

President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have radically different views on climate change. Biden has proposed a progressive plan which aims to aggressively tackle climate change. Mr. Trump has previously called climate change a "hoax," and rolled back numerous policies put in place to protect the natural environment.

Mr. Trump and Biden were scheduled to meet for their second debate on October 15, but Mr. Trump opted not to participate after the commission announced the debate would be virtual due to the president's COVID-19 diagnosis. Biden then also announced that he would not participate in a debate solo, and chose instead to appear at a 90-minute town hall hosted by ABC News. Unwilling to be upstaged, the president appeared at a competing town hall hosted by NBC News on Thursday night, although this event was only an hour long.

At the contentious NBC town hall, NBC News' Savannah Guthrie questioned the president on his COVID-19 diagnosis, his last negative test, his personal dislike for masks and the conspiracy group QAnon, pressing him and not letting him evade answering.

Guthrie asked Mr. Trump about his retweet this week of a conspiracy theory that Biden orchestrated to have Seal Team 6 killed to cover up the fake death of Osama Bin Laden. 

"Why would you send a lie like that to your followers?" Guthrie asked him. 

"I know nothing about it," Mr. Trump said.

"You retweeted it," Guthrie pointed out. 

"That was a retweet, that was an opinion of somebody, and that was a retweet. I'll put it out there, people can decide for themselves, I don't take a position," the president responded. 

"I don't get that," Guthrie countered. "You're the president — you're not like someone's crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever!"

Mr. Trump also couldn't answer whether he was tested on the day of the presidential debate in late September, shortly before he tested positive for the virus. He admitted he isn't always tested every day.

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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