The second presidential debate was scheduled to take place on Thursday, which was cancelled because Trump refused to take part in a virtual debate, after contracting the coronavirus. Instead, President Trump and former Vice-President Biden both held town halls on Thursday evening. Trump was on NBC being questioned by Savannah Guthrie while Biden was on ABC News being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos.
During his town hall, Biden was pressed about his position on packing the court, something both him and his running mate Kamala Harris have refused to directly answer, on his position on fracking and the Green New deal, as well as his positions on the 1986 and 1994 crime bills.
Trump, in his town hall, was questioned about his administration’s response to the pandemic, him retweeting conspiracy theories, and his position on white supremacy. Trump’s style remained the same as the first debate: interrupting and talking over the host.
The NBC town hall was filled with tension between Guthrie and Trump, with Guthrie fact-checking Trump on the spot and even asking if he was serious about his answers. When asked about his stance on white supremacy, Trump replied, “You always do this!” he added, “you’ve done this to me and everybody… are you listening? I denounce White supremacy. What’s your next question?”.
Guthrie continued on the subject and pointed out that Trump is sometimes hesitant to denounce white supremacy, to which he responded. “I denounce white supremacy.” He added, “And frankly, you want to know something? I denounce Antifa, and I denounce these people on the left that are burning down our cities, that are run by Democrats who don’t know what they’re doing”.
When Guthrie asked Trump to clarify his position on a tweet he recently retweeted, a conspiracy theory that said “Hiden Biden and Obama may have had Seal Team 6 killed” and that “a CIA Whistleblower Exposes Biden’s Alleged Role with the Deaths of Seal Team-Claims to have Documented Proof” which implied that Biden orchestrated to have SEAL Team Six killed to cover up the fake death of Bin Laden, Trump responded by saying “that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.”
Biden’s town hall, which was going on at the same time, was not as tension filled. The town hall had less back-and-fourth and more policy-based discourse. During the town hall, Biden was being asked questions from Stephanopoulos and voters, and giving lengthy answers.
However, Biden’s town hall was not without him dodging questions. When pressed about his stance on court-packing, he again did not answer directly. After a long back-and-fourth on the subject, Stephanopoulos grilled him by asking, “But don’t voters have a right to know where you stand?” to which he replied, “They do have a right to know where I stand. And they will have a right to know where I stand before they vote”.
The two town halls demonstrated once again how different both candidates are. With just 18 days until Election Day, undecided voters have a short period of time to decide who to vote for. These two town halls may have clarified that decision for some voters.