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At the start of Thursday night’s debate its moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, delivered a polite but firm instruction: The matchup should not be a repeat of the chaos of last month’s debate.

It was a calmer affair and, for the first few segments, a more structured and linear exchange of views.

President Trump, whose interruptions came to define the first debate, was more restrained, seemingly heeding advice that keeping to the rules of the debate would render his message more effective.

And while there were no breakthrough moments for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president managed to make more of a case for himself than he did last month, on issues such as the coronavirus and economic support for families and businesses in distress.

Alexander Burns, a national political correspondent, gives us a recap of the night’s events and explores what it means for an election that is just 11 days away.


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On today’s episode

A Recap of the Final Presidential Debate 1

Alexander Burns, a national political correspondent for The New York Times.

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Thursday.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

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Alexander Burns contributed reporting.

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