Trump, Biden hold separate town halls in lieu of cancelled second presidential debate

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Oct 16, 2020, 11:26 PM(IST)

US President Donald Trump and Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

While Trump's town hall was hosted by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in Miami, Florida, that of Biden was held in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) News.

US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden held simultaneous and separate televised town halls in lieu of the cancelled second presidential debate.

They took questions from pre-selected individuals at sessions moderated by eminent television journalists.

While Trump's town hall was hosted by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in Miami, Florida, that of Biden was held in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) News.

The second presidential debate had originally been scheduled for Thursday night. However, it was cancelled after Trump refused to participate in a virtual format of the presidential debate as amended by the independent debate commission following the president's COVID-19 diagnosis.

A final debate is still scheduled for October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. The first debate was held on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.

During the town hall, Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He also reiterated his stand on tax returns. However, Trump refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory.

When asked by moderator Savannah Guthrie if he would denounce the QAnon theory and "just say it's crazy and not true", Trump said, "I don't know about QAnon."

Biden's during his town hall said he would soon express his position on court packing, an issue that he has avoided so far.

The Democratic presidential nominee said he would come out with a clear position before Election Day about where he stands on expanding the Supreme Court, depending how the rest of the confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is handled.

President Trump has selected Judge Barrett to succeed Supreme Court Justice late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Senate Judiciary Committee finished its confirmation hearings for Barrett earlier on Thursday. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said that the committee will vote on Barrett's nomination on October 22. If the committee approves her nomination, which is expected, it would be sent to the full Senate floor.

At the town hall with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Biden said he is "not a fan" of court packing. When asked by Stephanopoulos if he was open to increasing the number of judges on the court if Barrett is confirmed before the election, Biden said, "I'm open to considering what happens from that point on".

Republicans have repeatedly criticised Biden for not directly giving his view on court packing.

"They do have a right to know where I'll stand and they'll have a right to know where I stand before they vote," Biden said, when asked whether voters had a right to know where he stands on the issue of expanding the court.

Replying to a question on if he would make his position clear before the Election Day, Biden said, "Yes, depending on how they handle this", referring to the Republicans.

Both Trump and Biden campaigns claimed that their candidates won the shows Thursday night.

"Even though the commission cancelled the in-person debate that could have happened tonight, one occurred anyway, and President Trump soundly defeated NBC's Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate," said Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director.

"President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie's attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room," he said.

"Joe Biden gave thoughtful answers to voters' questions about COVID-19, taxes, racial equity, climate change, and more...1,100 miles away, and in a false, alternate reality of his own making, President Trump was combative and lashed out at voters. He refused to denounce QAnon...He lied about the effectiveness of masks," he said.

"Trump has no answers for his failures to contain COVID-19 and manage our economy. And, after nearly four years in office, Trump still has no vision for how he'll make health care more affordable," Bedingfield said.

Trump has recovered from a brief spell of COVID-19 after he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the deadly viral infection on October 1. Trump's doctors have now cleared him for his election campaigns.

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