While the topics of Thursday’s debate ranged from foreign policy, to coronavirus, to the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden had a handful of reliable refrains he returned to throughout the evening. From one-liners borrowed from Obama, to painting the scenes of bereaved American’s kitchen tables, Biden played and replayed multiple reliable quips.
No Red and Blue States
“Take a look at what New York has done in turning the curve down in terms of people dying. I don’t look at this in the way he does, blue states and red states, they’re all the United States,” said Biden when criticizing Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
He immediately contradicted himself, with his next sentence asserting that “the red states” are the ones that have coronavirus issues.
"And look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They’re the red states,” Biden said. "They’re the states in the Midwest. They’re the states in the upper Midwest. That’s where the spike is occurring significantly, but they’re all Americans. They’re all Americans.” He then hinted at a mask mandate, and various other measures he would impose.
Biden used the same line again after Trump criticized what he called a proposed “big bailout for badly run Democrat cities and states” that had “nothing to do with COVID.”
Trump’s mention of “Democrat cities and states” seemed to trigger a default response in Biden to return to the same phrasing, saying "If I get elected, I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m going to be an American president. I don’t see red states and blue states, what I see is American United States.
This “red and blue states” line has become one of Biden’s favorites during the campaign, but it is not new. It has been used multiple times by Obama during his campaigns and presidential years.
Sitting around the kitchen table
During his campaign, Biden has repeatedly invoked an image of a kitchen table in an American family home, facing various specific issues surrounding coronavirus, depending on the subject at hand. He did this again on Thursday when asked about his plans to combat the virus. Multiple times.
"He says that we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it,” Biden said after Trump suggested that life in America must move forward. "You folks home will have an empty chair at the kitchen table this morning. That man or wife going to bed tonight and trying to reach over to try to touch their out of habit where their wife or husband was, is gone. Learning to live with it? Come on."
Later, Biden returned to the same scene after Trump criticized Biden’s approach to China.
“There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey,” Biden responded. "There’s a reason for it. He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family. And your family’s hurting badly. If you’re making less than, if you’re a middle-class family you’re getting hurt badly right now. You’re sitting at the kitchen table this morning and deciding, well we can’t get new tires, they’re bald, because we have to wait another month or so."
Trump directly called out Biden’s use of this political tool, characterizing it as manipulative. “That’s a typical political statement. ‘Let’s get off this China thing.’ And then he looks ’the family around the table, everything.’ Just the typical politician. When I see that. I’m not a typical politician. That’s why I got elected. Let’s get off the subject of China and let’s talk about sitting around the table. Come on Joe, you can do better than that.”
Biden separately invoked a scene of Americans “rolling around in bed” worrying about healthcare coverage “because your company’s gone under."
"How many of you at home are worried, and rolling around in bed tonight, wondering what in God’s name you’re going to do if you get sick,” said Biden
Biden slammed Trump for his handling of the coronavirus, but when Trump noted that Biden actually criticized him for his early actions taken against the virus, Biden outright denied ever calling trump “xenophobic” for shutting down travel from China.
Biden repeatedly said he “didn’t say” such a thing. But a tweet from March shows him doing exactly that.
"He is xenophobic, but not because he shut down access from China. And he did it late after 40 countries had already done that,” Biden said.
Multiple tweets from spring of 2020 show Biden referring to trump as “xenophobic” in reference to his approach to the coronavirus.
“Now he says I should have closed it earlier,” Trump said.
“I talked about his xenophobia in a different context. It wasn’t about closing the border to Chinese coming to the United States,” Biden insisted.
Russia Russia Russia
In a bizarre attempt to turn the tables and turn attention away from the mounting evidence surrounding the Hunter Biden Laptop Scandal, Biden repeatedly tried to paint the entire matter as some sort of Russian psyop.
"Rudy Giuliani is being used as a Russian pawn,” Biden said insisting that "he’s being fed information that is not true” by the Russian government in regard to the massive allegations of corruption against Biden and his son.
Later in the debate, Biden more directly insisted the whole thing is a “Russian plan"
"There are 50 former national intelligence folks, who said what this he’s accusing me of is a Russian plan,” Biden said.
“You mean the laptop is now another Russia Russia Russia hoax?” Trump Responded. "This is where he’s going. The laptop is Russia Russia Russia?"
“Yes,” Biden managed to get out as the two spoke over each other.
Debates now concluded, perhaps mercifully, the decision now simply rests with the American voter.