LOS ANGELES - This week, with just days left in the campaign, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met one last time to debate.
This, as coronavirus cases spiked in states across the country, as the number of early voters surpassed 50 million, and as the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As the march towards Election Day approaches its end, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is for a special debate of these topics, and more, by two political powerhouses: Tomi Lahren, a Conservative, and Brian Tyler Cohen, a Progressive.
With just days left before Election Day, the conversation kicked off with Lahren and Cohen making their cases for their candidates of choice.
“Promises made, promises kept,” Lahren said in her endorsement of President Trump. “This President, before coronavirus, before this pandemic that has been ravaging not only our country but the world… this President had a booming economy, picked up the shambles of eight years of Obama-Biden, and rebuilt this economy.”
“We were thriving, confidence was up, we had the lowest unemployment, historically low unemployment for so many groups, including African Americans, women, employment numbers were fantastic,” the FOX Nation host continued. “Our President makes promises, he keeps them, and I think that is why the left hates him so much, is because he says what he’s going to do.”
Cohen had a different view of things as he laid out his case for a Biden Presidency.
“We need to get Donald Trump out of office. He is a clear-and-present danger to the American people,” Cohen said. “This is a President whose overseen the deaths of 220,000 Americans, 8% unemployment, 11 million jobs lost in the last few months, he has emboldened White nationalists, he’s destroyed our country’s institutions, he’s destroyed our alliances, he’s legitimized dictators…”
Beyond reasons to vote against the President, Cohen also presented reasons to vote for the former Vice President.
“He will defer to science to get this virus under control,” Cohen said of Biden. “He understands that climate change is an existential threat, he realizes that more people need health care, not less, he knows that the best way to stimulate the economy isn’t kowtowing to fossil fuel companies, it’s investing in renewables.”
On to specific issues, Michaelson asked the two to evaluate the job that President Trump has done in handling the coronavirus.
“This President closed down travel from China when the Democrats were still, by the way, trying to impeach him on their second or third witch hunt,” Lahren said, praising the President’s response. “Joe Biden called him racist and xenophobic for doing so.”
Lahren further stressed that while the virus should be taken seriously, President Trump’s own positive diagnosis proves that, with the right medical care, most are able to beat coronavirus, and that is why the President has chosen to “lead with optimism” rather than through fear.
“Where to even begin,” Cohen responded. “First of all, there was not a travel ban from China, because if you have a ban, it wouldn’t have allowed 40,000 people to come into the country anyway… and second of all, it didn’t work, we have the most cases and the most deaths on the face of the Earth.”
“Trump himself contracted the virus,” Cohen continued. “He is is a walking monument to his own failures to contain this thing, and pointing to the fact that he persevered through the virus is insane, considering he’s President of the United States, he has the best health care on the face of the Earth.”
Lahren pushed back, saying that while a single death is too many, what she has yet to hear from anyone on the left is what they would have done differently to respond to the pandemic, other than more shutdowns and a national mask mandate.
“There are millions of Americans out there who do not want to be under constant lockdown, shutdown, infringement, any longer,” Lahren said, arguing that the left is preaching increased control of the American people.
In response, Cohen said that Biden has been clear about what he would have done to combat the virus, namely acting sooner to institute nationwide testing and contact tracing, to invoke the defense production act to manufacture PPE, and to mandate masks across the country.
“Every single thing that the President has done has been in direct opposition to measure that would have actually helped the American people get through this virus so we didn’t have to lock down,” Cohen said.
At that, Lahren pushed back at the notion that Biden would have acted sooner, or differently, accusing him instead of having accomplished very little during his 47 years in public service.
“When you talk about your list of accomplishments for Joe Biden, I never hear what he did for 50 years in public life, I heard what he was going to do,” Lahren said while referring to Biden as a “politician in the swamp.”
“If he was going to do all those things, why did it take 47 years for him to do it?” she added.
From coronavirus, the conversation turned to the issue of immigration.
This, after the subject led to a heated exchange during Thursday’s Presidential debate, Joe Biden accused the Trump Administration of criminal behavior over the continued separation of some 545 children brought into the US illegally from their families, and the President pushing back that the cages found in family detention centers were built during the Obama years.
“No one comes across that border without the help of the cartel, without paying a smuggler, a coyote, a trafficker, that cartel controls the South West border,” Lahren said, while expressing concern over those still-separated children. “For Joe Biden to assert that coyotes are not bringing these people over here is misinformation and 100% false, and shows that he does not understand this border.”
Lahren continued, that she has spent a great deal of time with border patrol across much of America’s southern border, and from those experiences, she has seen first hand that the facilities are underfunded, and that the separations that take place are for the safety of the children, who may otherwise be detained with grown adults that they cannot confirm are related.
Cohen conceded that the facility in question was built under the Obama administration, but that the child-separation policy was one pushed by the Trump administration, and promoted by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a method of deterrence.
“Cruelty is the point,” Cohen said. “It is a feature, not a bug.”
Lahren pushed back: “When we talk about child separation, what our President has said, what our various DHS secretaries have said, is ‘do not come over here illegally, do not make that trek, do not pay a coyote, a smuggler, or a cartel member, because it is dangerous’… a zero-tolerance policy saves lives.”
The wide-ranging debate ended with some personal matters.
First, the fact that Lahren recently left California, relocating to Nashville, Tennessee.
Michaelson asked if she regrets the decision and whether she misses the Golden State.
“I miss you guys… you know I do have a soft spot in my heart for California, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s great to be in a free state, I don’t regret it for a moment… but I am keeping my eye of California Governor “Greasy” Gavin Newsom, and watching his every move, as I promised to do.”
Cohen, on the other hand, said he remains comfortable in California, noting it is the fifth largest global economy, is setting an example in the fight against climate change, and is seeing a decrease in crime.
Finally, a game of Personal Issues to get to better know Lahren and Cohen, and see where there might be some common ground.
Right off the bat, the two admitted their favorite TV shows were both Bravo properties, Lahren saying she liked any show in Housewives franchise, while Cohen chose Below Deck.
On the meal front, Cohen went with “chicken fingers and fries,” Lahren saying she was “big into spaghetti and meatballs.”
Finally, the two agreed that their dogs were their favorite pets, Cohen saying “especially with all the BS that’s happening right now, it’s nice to have something that always brings you joy,” Lahren agreeing, saying “this world can be a lonely place, especially sometimes if you’re a Conservative, it’s nice to have something that doesn’t judge you, it’s always there for you.”
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.