Two separate Town Halls took place at the time that the original Town Hall Debate had been scheduled. The debate ultimately was canceled due to Trump’s positive test for COVID19.
Being separate events, they were handled in very different manners. On ABC, members of the extremely small audience stood up to ask questions to Joe Biden. Joe was then allowed to ramble on, often with personal anecdotes that never seem natural, and every once in a while moderator George Stephanopoulos would interject to add a “challenge” to a statement or topic Biden was discussing.
On the other end, NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie took a more involved approach, leading most of the questioning herself and actively arguing with President Trump and talking over him during his answers.
First, Joe Biden.
Biden had an indoor Town Hall. There were only a handful of attendees, all who were sat what appeared to be well beyond 6 feet from each other.
As expected, Biden was critical of the response from the White House in regards to COVID19. There are two key takeaways from this topic that we may not have heard quite as much as the rest.
First, Biden emphasized that we must do testing and tracing as a critical component to re-opening the economy. This is decisively different than the contact tracing we have heard and seen take effect as a result of someone having a positive test. This in effect would be testing and tracing of the general public, much like what we are seeing in China.
Secondly, when pressed on the issue of a mandated vaccine for COVID19, Biden alleged that, it “depends on the state and the nature of the vaccine … but we should be having a discussion on mandating it.” He likened the idea to the mask mandate, where as he put it, you go down as far as necessary to local government to enforce or strongly recommend it as a mandate. Listening to his justification sounded as though he knew that if he said no his supporters would cry foul, but that there was also no easy way to say yes, we should force people to get the vaccine.
Biden was asked to clarify if he would ban fracking, as he has during this campaign gone from a decisive yes, he would ban it to his current position that he would not.
His current position, at least for the duration of the Town Hall, is to strictly regulate the process to cut down on the excessive waste, methane exposure, and impact on earthquakes that have resulted from the practice. Then, he elaborated on how investing in the growth of renewable energy, and ending subsidies for oil, would push the nation towards alternative energy sources. He also noted that he would use natural means such as fertilization to achieve an increase in the natural consumption of carbon.
One lady in the audience toward the end asked what Biden would do to protect against LGBTQ discrimination. She was specifically concerned because she said that her 8 year old daughter is transgender.
Biden was quick to affirm that if an 8 year old wants to “choose to be transgender because it makes things easier” then they should be able to do so without any discrimination. The issue many people take with this, even those who generally support the LGBTQ community, is that a prepubescant child should not have the ability to make life altering decisions. We have already seen court battles over children this age being able to take medical steps to transition. These children need to be children, and learn about life and grow up before making any of these decisions. This shouldn’t even be up for discussion.
Lastly, Biden made sure to let everyone know that he is being tested for COVID19 every day. In fact, he is going through the discomfort of a PCR test daily, despite the uselessness of the testing itself.
Next, Donald Trump.
In an honest effort to keep the reporting of each candidates Town Hall equal, one has to admit that when it comes to Donald Trump there is always a bit more drama.
The first good bit of the outdoor event was an argument between Trump and Guthrie that did not bode well for either. Guthrie insisted on knowing if Trump was tested on the day of the debate with Biden prior to showing up, and Trump diverted. “Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t,” and, “I don’t recall, I get tested all the time,” were the repeated answers of the President.
He also misquoted a CDC report that we actually reported on earlier that day. He insisted that “85% of people wearing masks got the virus,” which is a misrepresentation at best of what the data revealed. As we explained, it showed that over 70% of the outpatients with COVID19 involved in the study wore strictly wore face masks but still got the virus.
As expected, Guthrie too argued with the President over denouncing white supremacy, which he has done repeatedly.
“I denounce white supremacy I’ve denounced it for years. Does Biden denounce antifa?” Trump attempted to turn the tables on Biden, who he said claims antifa doesn’t exist.
Trump was then pressed to denounce QAnon, which seems to have been the new headline for the media. Instead of “Trump refuses to denounce White Supremacy,” it is “Trump refuses to denounce QAnon.” This following the same tactic they employed to get him to denounce Proud Boys.
Trump insisted that he didn’t know much about QAnon.
“I just told you,” Guthrie shot back in an aggravated manner, leaving Trump the opportunity to troll her in which he did not fail.
“What you tell me doesn’t necessarily make it fact sorry to tell you,” he said. “I don’t know about it. I know they are strongly against pedophilia and I agree with that,” he continued.
Of course it wouldn’t be an interview with President Trump if he wasn’t confronted about a peaceful transition of power.
“And the answer is yes, I will accept a peaceful transition,” he ultimately admitted, but repeatedly stressed that he wanted it done fairly. He stressed the cases of voter fraud that have been in the news and that he doesn’t like ballots dumped with his name on them. Of course, Guthrie ignored reality and insisted these claims were without merit.
Naturally this lead to asking about his Supreme Court nomination on both subjects of election disputes and Roe v Wade. Trump was adamant about not answering either question the the basis that the media would spin it as him direction the prospective Justice on future decisions. Instead, he confirmed the testimony of Barrett that they had not discussed these matters previously.
Lastly, he was asked by an attendee what he thinks should be done about the fear people of color have in regards to police. He referred to a bill introduced on police reform from Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) that he said Democrats refused to address in the house. The bill is 106 pages, but looking over the table of contents it seems to address a wide variety of issues from accountability to sexual assault allegations, to overall reform. It may be worth calling your local legislature over, you can read it yourself and decided.
Overall, the dueling Town Halls came off as petty.
The entire event with Biden seemed very scripted, and didn’t really uncover anything that we didn’t know. The new revelations from the New York Post was completely ignored in both Town Halls. Overall, I don’t think any undecided voter that is informed enough to know there was a Town Hall walked away with any new information or swaying of an opinion.
Both debates have been embedded below. Unfortunately ABC has not cropped their video at the time of this recording, so you need to skip to the 1hr mark to start the Town Hall for Joe Biden.