Donald Trump and Joe Biden appeared on NBC News and ABC America respectively at 8 PM (EST) on October 15 or 5:30 AM (IST) October 16. After the first presidential debate on September 30 between US President and Democratic Presidential Nominee, while the desperation for their second face-off was spiking, the October 15 event was cancelled.
Therefore, owing to the unprecedented turn of events involving Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and then refusing to take part in a virtual debate, both contenders for US Election 2020 held town halls, simultaneously and separately from two different places addressing two different sets of American voters.
While Donald Trump’s Miami Town Hall got contentious from the beginning, Joe Biden’s Philadelphia Town Hall was more composed, quiet and formatted. Here are the key moments from both events:
Mounting more confusion over US President Donald Trump’s illness, he was seen dodging questions about when he had last negative test for COVID-19 during the Miami Town Hall on October 16. When the NBC host Savannah Guthrie asked a straight-forward question about his COVID-19 test and symptoms, Trump was unable to give a simple answer. Instead, he went on about he gets tested “all the time” and that he is “feeling great”. At one instance, Trump even said, “I don’t know. I don’t remember.” and when asked if he did get a test on the day of the first presidential debate, he said, “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.”
Trump was asked about releasing his tax returns. To which the US President said that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) "treats me very badly". When the moderator mentioned that there is no law that would prohibit him from showing his tax returns, Trump said that he wouldn’t because “common sense” and that his tax returns are under audit which is a process. But he assured that he doesn’t owe any money to “sinister people”.
Trump said, “So that one’s solved. That’s good. I am under audit. No person in their right mind would release, prior to working out the deal with the IRS. And I’ll go a step further. I’m treated very badly by the IRS.”
“No, I don’t know. I can tell you this. If they have my tax returns, as you know, they have to go to jail. It’s illegal, but their numbers were wrong, but let me tell you what else. I don’t owe money to any of these sinister people,” he added.
.@SavannahGuthrie: “You could clear this up tonight by just releasing your tax returns yourself.”— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 16, 2020
President Trump: “As you know, I’m under audit.”
Savannah: “The IRS says that doesn’t stop you from releasing.” #TrumpTownHall pic.twitter.com/tpg3iOKf8X
Meanwhile, Joe Biden said that he is willing to take a position before the November elections on the idea of expanding the Supreme Court “depending on how” Republicans handle the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. He also suggested that he might consider the calls of some of the Democrats to expand the court. Biden even criticised Trump Supreme Court Justice pick, Amy Coney Barrett’s performance before the Senate judiciary committee.
“My reading online — what the judge said was, she didn’t answer very many questions at all,” Biden said of Barrett.
Pressed repeatedly by @GStephanopoulos on his position on court packing, Joe Biden says, “I’m not a fan … it depends on how this turns out,” adding that it depends on how Republicans handle the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. https://t.co/JEyTOkB6qk pic.twitter.com/rpcrzh5aRO— ABC News (@ABC) October 16, 2020
Biden defended aspects of the 1994 crime bill, which he had authored, and called it a “mistake.” However, he blamed some of the bill's most destructive effects on the state governments.
“Yes, it was mistake,” Biden said when pressed. “But the mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.” Before mentioning his work on the Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban, Biden said, “The crime bill itself did not have mandatory sentences, except for two things. It had three strikes and you’re out, which I voted against in the crime bill, but it had a lot of things in it that turned out to be both bad and good."
.@GStephanopoulos presses Biden on the 1994 crime bill and if he still believes 'more cops mean less crime': "Yes, if in fact they're involved in community policing and not jump squads." https://t.co/JEyTOkB6qk #BidenTownHall pic.twitter.com/OW6MGiw51D— ABC News (@ABC) October 16, 2020
Trump was asked about the QAnon conspiracy group and he was reluctant in answering. US President said, "I just don’t know about QAnon.” When the moderator further pressed by saying "you do know", Trump replied, “No, I don’t know!” However, he had retweeted the post by the controversial group. When asked about why he reported the video if he didn't know about the group, Trump reiterated that a retweet is not an endorsement. The US President was also asked about him not denouncing white supremacy in the first presidential debate, to which he replied, "I denounced white supremacy".
Pres. Trump: “That was a retweet, I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves.”@SavannahGuthrie: “I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not, like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.” #TrumpTownHall pic.twitter.com/sFEiIbJPgd— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 16, 2020
In the series of questions asked by voters, Biden opposed the Green New Deal, doubled down on his opposition to a ban on fracking, and what it would say on losing the US Elections 2020. The former US VP was asked about the Green New Deal, which his campaign website has described as a “crucial framework” for climate policy. Biden said, "My deal is a crucial framework but not the New Green Deal,” Biden said, mispronouncing the name of the plan.
Biden conceded that the emission of methane was a matter of concern, and the brief earthquakes caused by drilling. However, he argued that it could be dealt with by being “managed very, very well.”