With Debate Cancelled, Trump And Biden Appear In Dueling Town Halls

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President Trump speaks during an NBC News town hall moderated by Savannah Guthrie at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. At the same time Thursday night, Democratic nominee Joe Biden participated in an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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«And the answer is yes I will. But I want it to be an honest election and so does everyone else,» said Trump, who has offered unfounded warnings about the integrity of the election.

An exchange over QAnon produced a rather startling moment, when the president declined to denounce it after Guthrie briefly explained the baseless conspiracy theory: that Trump is battling a «deep state» child sex trafficking ring run by Democrats.

«I know nothing about it. I do know that they are very much against pedophilia,» he said, before pivoting: «I’ll tell you what I do know about: I know about antifa and I know about the radical left.»

Another contentious moment came amid a discussion on Trump’s tax returns, which were revealed last month in a bombshell New York Times report.

Speaking on his finances and the Times’ disclosure that he holds debts totaling $421 million, Trump said: «The amount of money, $400 million, is a peanut. It’s extremely under-levered. And it’s levered with normal banks.»

Biden on court packing and crime bill

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Biden pauses before the start of a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

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«They do have a right to know where I stand,» Biden said. «They have a right to know where I stand before they vote.»

The Democrat was also pressed on his support of decades-old crime legislation that is blamed for increasing incarceration, especially among minority men.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden if his support of such legislation was a mistake.

«Yes, it was,» he replied. But here’s where the mistake came: The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.» Biden then defended parts of the legislation he said he advocated for, such as drug courts.

Biden also said «we should be thinking about» making vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory, should a vaccine or vaccines be proven safe and effective, but said he recognized it would be very difficult to enforce vaccination.

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Debate debate

A presidential debate was initially scheduled to be held on Thursday, but after Trump was diagnosed with — and eventually recovered from — the coronavirus, his campaign refused to adhere to holding a virtual event instead of an in-person debate, leading to the dueling town hall programs.

Trump on Thursday night also said he didn’t know if he had been tested for the coronavirus prior to the first debate, on Sept. 29.

When asked whether his team had adhered to the debate commission’s «honor system» for the candidates to arrive with a negative coronavirus test, Trump said: «I don’t know. I don’t even remember. I test all the time. But I can tell you this: After the debate, like, I guess a day or so — I think it was Thursday evening, maybe even late Thursday evening, I tested positive.»

There is one more debate on the schedule before the election: Oct. 22 in Nashville.

Biden was asked whether he expects that debate to happen and whether he will demand that Trump test negative on the day of the debate before the two appear on the same stage.

«It’s just decency to be able to determine whether or not you’re clear,» Biden said. «I expect to be there.»

  • 2020 presidential election


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