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Following his COVID-19 diagnosis, President Donald Trump has decided to cancel his appearance at the previously scheduled second presidential debate. Instead, Trump will participate in an NBC News town hall in Miami on October 15 at 8 p.m. NBC announced the town hall event this morning after Trump said White House doctors told him he is not contagious. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie will moderate the event.
Since Trump will not attend the previously scheduled debate, neither will Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who will host a town hall in Philadelphia on ABC News. Biden’s town hall will occur at the same date and time as Trump’s, and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will moderate it.
NBC’s decision to schedule President Trump’s town hall at the same time as the Biden event has drawn criticism, including from former NBC executives, on social media.
President Trump’s town hall
President Trump announced less than two weeks ago that he had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Since then, he has returned to large campaign rallies after being cleared to hold public events this week. NBC News announced that public health guidelines would be strictly followed at Trump’s town hall.
Florida, where Trump’s town hall will take place, is a key battleground state for the president. According to FiveThirtyEight polls, President Trump has approximately 47.9 percent of Florida’s popular votes, and Biden has 51.3 percent. Trump has not let his COVID-19 diagnosis halt his campaign in other battleground states, and his campaign is holding daily rallies this week, including an event in Iowa tonight at 7 p.m. Trump is also scheduled to be in North Carolina for an afternoon campaign event tomorrow before his town hall.
Biden’s town hall
Biden agreed to host an ABC News town hall after the second presidential debate was canceled. President Trump’s campaign canceled the initial debate, which was supposed to be virtual due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, because Trump said (without evidence) that a virtual debate would’ve given Biden an upper hand.
Earlier this week, Biden traveled to Ohio in attempts to expand his voter base in the battleground state. He also campaigned in Florida. According to a RealPolitics poll, Biden currently has approximately a half-point lead in Ohio and a 2.7-point lead in Florida.
With Biden’s town hall, the Democratic presidential candidate is attempting to win Pennsylvania’s popular vote. On average, Pennsylvania is split almost down the middle when supporting Democrats and Republicans. The state also wields 20 Electoral College votes, making it tied in fifth place for states with the most electoral votes.
In September, Biden’s campaign received a boost in voters after spending five times as much on ads as Trump. Biden’s allies in the state believe that he will perform better than 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did in Philadelphia and its suburbs. According to polls, Biden has an approximately seven-point lead in Pennsylvania.
Currently, Biden is ahead of President Trump in national polls by about 10 percentage points. The next and final presidential debate, if not canceled, will occur on October 22.