U.S. Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, held dueling town hall meetings Thursday night at the same time in different cities on different networks — Trump in Miami on NBC and Biden in Philadelphia on ABC.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of each town hall gathering.
1. Combative Trump defends pandemic response, overall record
U.S. President Donald Trump frequently sparred with NBC moderator Samantha Guthrie in Miami Thursday night, as he tried to defend his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, questioned the New York Times’ reporting of the very low amount of money he has paid in federal taxes and admitted that he might not have taken a coronavirus test on September 29, the day of his first debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, even though he was required to do so by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Trump tested positive for Covid-19 two days later.
When asked about the Times’ report that he has debts of approximately $421 million, Trump was evasive.
When Guthrie asked whether he owes anything to foreign banks, Trump replied: “Not that I know of.”
Guthrie pressed Trump about pro-life Republicans wanting to see Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion, overturned. “I’m telling you I don’t want to do anything to influence anything right now,” Trump said.
Trump, who is trailing Biden in polls nationally and in numerous battleground states, sort of had one overall message to deliver at the town hall meeting: Vote for me “because we’ve done a great job.”
2. Biden attacks Trump on pandemic response, touts economic plan
In Philadelphia’s town hall gathering, moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took issue with Donald Trump’s presidency, saying Trump missed enormous opportunities in the battle against the coronavirus and that he kept saying things that weren’t true about an infectious disease that has killed more than 217,00 Americans.
“It’s a presidential responsibility to lead and he didn’t do that, because in my view, he kept talking about the stock market,” Biden said.
Biden said his administration would have followed the pandemic plan laid out by Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president. He said his first move would have been sending American experts to China, where the virus emanated late last year, to get the most up-to-date information.
As he has frequently done, Biden spoke against the movement to defund police departments in light of the number of African-Americans who have been killed by white officers.
Biden also spoke in depth about his economic plan for the United States and indicated he is open to the idea of expanding the U.S. Supreme Court from nine members, This has become a bigger issue of late among liberals who have been against Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is all but assured confirmation to the Supreme Court, giving it more of a decidedly conservative majority.
Biden, a former U.S. senator, delivered lengthy answers throughout the first 40 minutes of his event including the history of controversial 1994 crime bill legislation.
Biden crime he supported turned out to be “both bad and good.” “The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally,” he said.
Biden was also asked what it would say about the United States if he’s defeated by Trump.
“It could say I’m a lousy candidate and I didn’t do a good job,” Biden said. But he expressed hope that it doesn’t mean “we are as racially, ethnically and religiously at odds with one another as it appears the president wants us to be.”