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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Joe Biden promised to choose a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination, as he and Bernie Sanders dueled in an unusual debate on Sunday evening. A surprised Sanders agreed that he too would likely select a “progressive” woman.

“There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow,” said the former vice president, who repeated the promise under questioning from the moderators. “I would pick a woman to be my vice president.” Although the Vermont senator didn’t respond with an equally firm pledge, Sanders said “in all likelihood I will. For me it’s not just nominating a woman, it is making sure we have a progressive woman — and we have progressive women out there.”

That moment of agreement came amid a sometimes heated debate over past votes and leadership styles as the two remaining Democrats in the race competed amid the advent of a national medical emergency that has no end in sight.

The coronavirus crisis changed not only the debate’s substance but its circumstances, with the candidates meeting in a CNN Washington studio, absent any audience, instead of a packed auditorium in Phoenix, AZ. As the candidates took the stage they bumped elbows instead of shaking hands, in accordance with CDC guidelines on personal contact to avoid spreading the virus. Both candidates said during the debate that they had felt no symptoms of the illness and had not been tested yet.

The debate’s first 40 minutes focused on the crisis, with Biden calling for national unity, criticizing the response of the Trump administration, and recalling his own role in dealing with pandemic threats as Barack Obama’s vice president. Sanders took the opportunity to again press his Medicare-for-all plan. But much of the remaining time was devoted to familiar disputes between the two men over policy issues and past votes. There was no startling moment that might have changed the trajectory of the race, as Biden delivered a better and more assured performance than in earlier debates, while the scrappy Sanders never landed a knockout blow. A Washington Post analysis declared that Biden was the evening’s main “winner.”

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)