2020 Presidential Town Halls

Emily Puchalski, Lenses Writer

Presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump were scheduled to debate for the second time on October 15. After a messy first debate, President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, and disagreements between the campaigns, the debate in Miami was canceled. The Commission on Presidential Debates was swift to begin the organization of a virtual debate, but President Trump was reluctant to participate and the possibility of a debate altogether vanished. 

Soon after this, candidate Joe Biden agreed to an ABC News town hall moderated by George Stephanopoulos scheduled on the original day of the debate. Then, the Trump campaign announced a town hall that Donald Trump would be attending. His town hall was planned on the same day and at the same time as the Biden town hall. At both events, candidates expressed lots of opinions and got Americans thinking about the upcoming election. 

Joe Biden’s town hall was clearly very differently structured than Trump’s. The event, called “The Vice President and the People” was a stark contrast from their counterparts. There was a calm back and forth between candidate Biden and moderator Stephanopoulos. In fact, the ABC News host received some criticism from viewers. Many called him out for taking it too easy on the candidate. Former Mayor Rudi Giuliani said, “Stephanopoulos let Biden speak endlessly and never interrupted him”. 

Most viewers agreed that it was a very coherent discussion. The former Vice President was asked questions by Pennsylvania voters who were either undecided or planning on voting for Trump. He was asked many questions and discussed topics like transgender rights, hydraulic fracking, The Green New Deal, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, and many more current issues. A key moment was Biden saying that he would get a coronavirus vaccine and that the U.S. should consider making it mandatory. Supporters were also disappointed to hear that he still does not have a stance on expanding the Supreme Court. Overall, the three-hour-long event was a great opportunity for voters to hear more about Joe Biden and his stances on issues.

Donald Trump at NBC, on the other hand, had a much more heated conversation with moderator Savannah Guthrie. From the very beginning, the NBC host hammered Trump with questions and set a very fast pace. Topics that were discussed include Obamacare, COVID-19, face masks, taxes, Roe v. Wade, and the transfer of power from the president to president. A notable moment was when President Trump refused to respond to whether or not he owes $400 million dollars to creditors as the New York Times has previously stated. He also later stated that he could replace Obamacare, but with no further explanation on how he would accomplish this. Guthrie pressed Trump about his unwillingness to admit his knowledge of QAnon. She pointed out that he had retweeted a tweet from the group himself and explained that it is a group of far-right believers of the conspiracy that Democrats are a satanic cult that practices pedophilia. He repeatedly stated that he knew nothing about them though. Candidate Trump also refused to confirm that he took a coronavirus test before the first debate, as was required. 

Something that upset lots of viewers was that both of these events were live at the same time, on the same date. Many state that because of this, they were not able to get a clear understanding of each candidate’s views. Only the results of the election will reveal the next president!