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Last night, President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held town halls that competed in the same time slot. These town halls followed the second presidential debate’s cancelation last week after Trump rejected virtually holding the debate following his COVID-19 diagnosis. What happened at each presidential nominee’s town hall? Here are some takeaways.
President Trump’s town hall
After the first presidential debate, President Trump faced backlash after not directly condemning a white supremacist group identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as an extremist white nationalist group. During last night’s town hall, Trump did denunciate white supremacists.
“I denounce white supremacy, OK?” President Trump said to moderator Savannah Guthrie before she finished her question about his current stance. Guthrie criticized Trump for retweeting a conspiracy theory that Joe Biden was behind killing SEAL Team 6 to cover up the faking of Osama Bin Laden’s death.
Following the town hall, Trump has again faced criticism for refusing to directly disavow the antisemitic conspiracy group QAnon. Although Trump at first said he didn’t know anything about the group, he then said that QAnon’s primary mission is to fight pedophilia.
QAnon’s members are fervent Trump supporters who believe, without evidence, that Trump is fighting pedophilia and human trafficking perpetrated by a “cabal” of rich and powerful Democrats and celebrities. The group has been linked to several crimes, and the FBI identifies it as a possible domestic terror threat.
President Trump refused to answer Guthrie’s other questions and said he doesn’t remember when his last negative COVID-19 test was before he tested positive on October 2. Trump tried to assure American viewers that he tests “all the time” but not every day. He also would not reveal whether he was tested on September 29, the day of the first presidential debate. “Possibly I did. Possibly I didn’t,” he said.
Joe Biden’s town hall
According to recent viewer data, Biden’s town hall garnered approximately 14.1 million viewers, compared with about 13.5 million viewers who tuned in to President Trump’s town hall.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos moderated Biden’s town hall. Biden acknowledged his past support for an old crime bill, which included mandatory minimums for drug offenses. Biden described his support for that bill as a “mistake.” However, he defended other criminal justice legislation that he supported during his time in the Senate, and he said that some states didn’t appropriately execute certain elements.
Biden was asked about his position on fracking and whether he would ban it. Biden said that he would not ban fracking, and he also said that he would “stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil.” Additionally, Biden has planned to invest heavily in renewable energy.
The next and final presidential debate will be held on Thursday, October 22, moderated by Kristen Welker at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The topics discussed will include COVID-19, American families, race, climate change, and national security. The debate will arrive with less than three weeks until Election Day and with Biden maintaining a 10-point polling lead over President Trump.
What did you think of whichever town hall you watched? Sound off in the comments!