Six Key Takeaways from the Biden and Trump Town Halls
Matt Shaw
16 Oct

Both candidates faced questions from voters. Derivative, using 'Donald Trump' and 'Joe Biden' by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, and 'White House' by Aaron Kittredge, via Pexels.

In the early hours of Friday morning (U.K. time), Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced questions from voters in separate town-hall-style events.

After organisers moved the second presidential debate online in response to Mr Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the president refused to participate.

Instead, each candidate appeared simultaneously on rival networks ABC News and NBC News, taking questions from members of the public.

If you missed it, here are six crucial points:

Get The Locus sent straight to your inbox
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Something went wrong. Sorry about that.

Fewer attacks, more discussion

The first presidential debate, rife with interruptions, insults and jabs, set expectations for the town hall events, but both broadcasts were surprisingly civil.

Both candidates talked at length about their policies, without resorting to hitting out at their opponent - much.

Mr Trump spent a substantial amount of time arguing with moderator Savannah Guthrie, host of the ‘Today’ show. Tempers frequently ran high as the pair sparred over various topics.

Contrastingly, the atmosphere at Mr Biden’s event in Philadelphia was far calmer. There were moments of more heated debate between the former vice president and moderator George Stephanopoulos, but tensions never boiled over.


COVID-19 is at the forefront of the race

As expected, the novel coronavirus took centre stage at both events immediately.

For Mr Biden, this meant explaining how he would handle the pandemic differently. For Mr Trump, it meant defending his - and his administration’s - decisions.

“Nobody’s being blamed. Everybody’s working hard to get this thing out of our country, get it out of the world,” Mr Trump said, before pointing to rising numbers of infections in Europe as evidence that the U.S. is outperforming other countries.

“But our death rate is worse than […] those other countries,” Ms Guthrie said.

“Well, I have things right here that will tell you exactly the opposite,” Mr Trump replied.

Both candidates came prepared, delivering confident responses and citing figures, but Mr Biden appeared more comfortable on the topic, as he lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the situation.

“He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true,” Mr Biden said, “He’s still saying those things.”

“We make up 4% of the world’s population, we have 20% of the world’s deaths,” the former vice president later said, “And what’s he doing? Nothing.”

MTA New York City Transit personnel sanitise a train in Brooklyn, NYC. 3 March, 2020. Image by Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Ian Franks is the managing editor of 50 Shades of Sun.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden were forced to confront their positions on race and equality

Both white candidates were also pressed on race, highlighting the disparity between the public and those in power.

The president, who previously refused to denounce white supremacy, instead telling violent groups to “stand by”, was asked to address his position.

“You always do this,” he said, before Ms Guthrie had finished the question, “I denounce white supremacy, okay? I denounced white supremacy for years, but you always do it, you always start off with the question.”

Mr Trump then pivoted quickly, adding: “You didn’t ask Joe Biden whether or not he denounces ANTIFA.”

For Mr Biden, the point in question was just as prickly, with one voter pressing him to explain a crime bill he wrote in 1994 which has been criticised of showing prejudice against minority groups.

Mr Biden has addressed this bill previously, and appeared to have prepared for such a question.

“Well, first of all, things have changed drastically,” he said, highlighting the fact that, at the time the bill was proposed, the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus supported it.

Mr Biden also said he opposed more drastic elements of the bill, whilst supporting aspects of it - including putting an end to jail time for drug use, which disproportionately affects African Americans.

On the topic of policing, the former vice president stood by his belief that defunding is not the answer, so long as officers are part of a community policing system, not “jump squads”.

He also proposed the creation of a study group to determine changes that can be made to improve the police.


Mr Trump downplayed being $400million in debt

A recent New York Times article leaked decades of the president’s tax returns and found that he owes more than $400million in personally-guaranteed debts that will come due in the next four years.

When asked who he owed money to, Mr Trump batted the story away and claimed that he owed very little money, in comparison to his wealth.

“When you look at vast properties like I have,” he said, “$400million is a peanut.”

“It’s a tiny percentage of my net worth,” he said, adding: “No, I don’t owe Russia money.”

Mr Trump said that he would have no qualms about revealing who is owed the money, but markedly neglected to do so.

The president also refused to release his tax returns, claiming that they’re still under audit - a defence he’s used consistently since he ran for the 2016 election.

President Trump speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. 19 February, 2020. Image by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mr Biden shared Supreme Court concerns, but Mr Trump painted a very different picture

Both candidates were asked about the Supreme Court, but took very different approaches.

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the Republican majority in the Senate has rushed to nominate and appoint a new Justice before the next president is elected.

Their current candidate, conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, would tip the balance of the Supreme Court 6-3 in the favour of conservatives.

This has concerned Democratic lawmakers, who argue that Roe v. Wade, a historic ruling on abortion rights, as well as other landmark cases, could be overturned.

Mr Biden was asked about his thoughts on the Supreme Court, with a focus on LGBTQ+ Americans.

“I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community, something I’ve fought very hard for a long time,” he said.

Mr Biden added that healthcare could also be at risk. The Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - soon.

Mr Trump was asked if he believes it’s hypocritical that Republicans are pushing ahead with nominating a new Justice days before the election, when Obama was blocked from doing so at the end of his term, due to the vacancy appearing in an election year.

He rejected that assertion, saying it’s happened before and the current situation is no different.

He then swiftly refocused the discussion to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by several women of sexual misconduct.

“I have never seen a human being treated so badly, with false accusations and everything else. I have never seen anything like it,” Mr Trump said.


Biden appeared uncomfortable when pressed about the environment

One voter asked Mr Biden about which energy production industries he plans to implement that don’t pose a human and environmental threat.

Mr Biden was quick to reject the notion of a fracking ban, but then turned to discussing his plans.

“The future rests in renewable energy,” he said. He laid out a goal for zero carbon emissions from energy creation by 2035.

Moderator George Stephanopoulos returned to fracking, pressing Mr Biden to provide more explanation.

Mr Biden provided another competent response, but Mr Stephanopoulos continued to drill into details, and it was clear that the topic is a more sensitive one for the former vice president.

Joe Biden speaking at a community event in Marshalltown, Iowa. 4 July, 2019. Image by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

What comes next?

The third presidential debate (technically the second) is scheduled for the early morning, 23 October (U.K. time), though it’s now unclear if it will take place as planned.

With the election less than three weeks away, it’s a crucial time for both candidates to be seen addressing voters and campaigning.

OPINION
Six Key Takeaways from the Biden and Trump Town Halls
Matt Shaw
16 Oct

Both candidates faced questions from voters. Derivative, using 'Donald Trump' and 'Joe Biden' by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, and 'White House' by Aaron Kittredge, via Pexels.

In the early hours of Friday morning (U.K. time), Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced questions from voters in separate town-hall-style events.

After organisers moved the second presidential debate online in response to Mr Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the president refused to participate.

Instead, each candidate appeared simultaneously on rival networks ABC News and NBC News, taking questions from members of the public.

If you missed it, here are six crucial points:

Get The Locus sent straight to your inbox
Thanks for subscribing to The Locus!
Something went wrong. Sorry about that.

Fewer attacks, more discussion

The first presidential debate, rife with interruptions, insults and jabs, set expectations for the town hall events, but both broadcasts were surprisingly civil.

Both candidates talked at length about their policies, without resorting to hitting out at their opponent - much.

Mr Trump spent a substantial amount of time arguing with moderator Savannah Guthrie, host of the ‘Today’ show. Tempers frequently ran high as the pair sparred over various topics.

Contrastingly, the atmosphere at Mr Biden’s event in Philadelphia was far calmer. There were moments of more heated debate between the former vice president and moderator George Stephanopoulos, but tensions never boiled over.


COVID-19 is at the forefront of the race

As expected, the novel coronavirus took centre stage at both events immediately.

For Mr Biden, this meant explaining how he would handle the pandemic differently. For Mr Trump, it meant defending his - and his administration’s - decisions.

“Nobody’s being blamed. Everybody’s working hard to get this thing out of our country, get it out of the world,” Mr Trump said, before pointing to rising numbers of infections in Europe as evidence that the U.S. is outperforming other countries.

“But our death rate is worse than […] those other countries,” Ms Guthrie said.

“Well, I have things right here that will tell you exactly the opposite,” Mr Trump replied.

Both candidates came prepared, delivering confident responses and citing figures, but Mr Biden appeared more comfortable on the topic, as he lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the situation.

“He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true,” Mr Biden said, “He’s still saying those things.”

“We make up 4% of the world’s population, we have 20% of the world’s deaths,” the former vice president later said, “And what’s he doing? Nothing.”

MTA New York City Transit personnel sanitise a train in Brooklyn, NYC. 3 March, 2020. Image by Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Ian Franks is the managing editor of 50 Shades of Sun.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden were forced to confront their positions on race and equality

Both white candidates were also pressed on race, highlighting the disparity between the public and those in power.

The president, who previously refused to denounce white supremacy, instead telling violent groups to “stand by”, was asked to address his position.

“You always do this,” he said, before Ms Guthrie had finished the question, “I denounce white supremacy, okay? I denounced white supremacy for years, but you always do it, you always start off with the question.”

Mr Trump then pivoted quickly, adding: “You didn’t ask Joe Biden whether or not he denounces ANTIFA.”

For Mr Biden, the point in question was just as prickly, with one voter pressing him to explain a crime bill he wrote in 1994 which has been criticised of showing prejudice against minority groups.

Mr Biden has addressed this bill previously, and appeared to have prepared for such a question.

“Well, first of all, things have changed drastically,” he said, highlighting the fact that, at the time the bill was proposed, the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus supported it.

Mr Biden also said he opposed more drastic elements of the bill, whilst supporting aspects of it - including putting an end to jail time for drug use, which disproportionately affects African Americans.

On the topic of policing, the former vice president stood by his belief that defunding is not the answer, so long as officers are part of a community policing system, not “jump squads”.

He also proposed the creation of a study group to determine changes that can be made to improve the police.


Mr Trump downplayed being $400million in debt

A recent New York Times article leaked decades of the president’s tax returns and found that he owes more than $400million in personally-guaranteed debts that will come due in the next four years.

When asked who he owed money to, Mr Trump batted the story away and claimed that he owed very little money, in comparison to his wealth.

“When you look at vast properties like I have,” he said, “$400million is a peanut.”

“It’s a tiny percentage of my net worth,” he said, adding: “No, I don’t owe Russia money.”

Mr Trump said that he would have no qualms about revealing who is owed the money, but markedly neglected to do so.

The president also refused to release his tax returns, claiming that they’re still under audit - a defence he’s used consistently since he ran for the 2016 election.

President Trump speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. 19 February, 2020. Image by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mr Biden shared Supreme Court concerns, but Mr Trump painted a very different picture

Both candidates were asked about the Supreme Court, but took very different approaches.

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the Republican majority in the Senate has rushed to nominate and appoint a new Justice before the next president is elected.

Their current candidate, conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, would tip the balance of the Supreme Court 6-3 in the favour of conservatives.

This has concerned Democratic lawmakers, who argue that Roe v. Wade, a historic ruling on abortion rights, as well as other landmark cases, could be overturned.

Mr Biden was asked about his thoughts on the Supreme Court, with a focus on LGBTQ+ Americans.

“I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community, something I’ve fought very hard for a long time,” he said.

Mr Biden added that healthcare could also be at risk. The Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - soon.

Mr Trump was asked if he believes it’s hypocritical that Republicans are pushing ahead with nominating a new Justice days before the election, when Obama was blocked from doing so at the end of his term, due to the vacancy appearing in an election year.

He rejected that assertion, saying it’s happened before and the current situation is no different.

He then swiftly refocused the discussion to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by several women of sexual misconduct.

“I have never seen a human being treated so badly, with false accusations and everything else. I have never seen anything like it,” Mr Trump said.


Biden appeared uncomfortable when pressed about the environment

One voter asked Mr Biden about which energy production industries he plans to implement that don’t pose a human and environmental threat.

Mr Biden was quick to reject the notion of a fracking ban, but then turned to discussing his plans.

“The future rests in renewable energy,” he said. He laid out a goal for zero carbon emissions from energy creation by 2035.

Moderator George Stephanopoulos returned to fracking, pressing Mr Biden to provide more explanation.

Mr Biden provided another competent response, but Mr Stephanopoulos continued to drill into details, and it was clear that the topic is a more sensitive one for the former vice president.

Joe Biden speaking at a community event in Marshalltown, Iowa. 4 July, 2019. Image by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

What comes next?

The third presidential debate (technically the second) is scheduled for the early morning, 23 October (U.K. time), though it’s now unclear if it will take place as planned.

With the election less than three weeks away, it’s a crucial time for both candidates to be seen addressing voters and campaigning.

Six Key Takeaways from the Biden and Trump Town Halls
Matt Shaw
16 Oct

Both candidates faced questions from voters. Derivative, using 'Donald Trump' and 'Joe Biden' by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, and 'White House' by Aaron Kittredge, via Pexels.

In the early hours of Friday morning (U.K. time), Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced questions from voters in separate town-hall-style events.

After organisers moved the second presidential debate online in response to Mr Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the president refused to participate.

Instead, each candidate appeared simultaneously on rival networks ABC News and NBC News, taking questions from members of the public.

If you missed it, here are six crucial points:

Fewer attacks, more discussion

The first presidential debate, rife with interruptions, insults and jabs, set expectations for the town hall events, but both broadcasts were surprisingly civil.

Both candidates talked at length about their policies, without resorting to hitting out at their opponent - much.

Mr Trump spent a substantial amount of time arguing with moderator Savannah Guthrie, host of the ‘Today’ show. Tempers frequently ran high as the pair sparred over various topics.

Contrastingly, the atmosphere at Mr Biden’s event in Philadelphia was far calmer. There were moments of more heated debate between the former vice president and moderator George Stephanopoulos, but tensions never boiled over.


COVID-19 is at the forefront of the race

As expected, the novel coronavirus took centre stage at both events immediately.

For Mr Biden, this meant explaining how he would handle the pandemic differently. For Mr Trump, it meant defending his - and his administration’s - decisions.

“Nobody’s being blamed. Everybody’s working hard to get this thing out of our country, get it out of the world,” Mr Trump said, before pointing to rising numbers of infections in Europe as evidence that the U.S. is outperforming other countries.

“But our death rate is worse than […] those other countries,” Ms Guthrie said.

“Well, I have things right here that will tell you exactly the opposite,” Mr Trump replied.

Both candidates came prepared, delivering confident responses and citing figures, but Mr Biden appeared more comfortable on the topic, as he lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the situation.

“He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true,” Mr Biden said, “He’s still saying those things.”

“We make up 4% of the world’s population, we have 20% of the world’s deaths,” the former vice president later said, “And what’s he doing? Nothing.”

Mr Trump and Mr Biden were forced to confront their positions on race and equality

Both white candidates were also pressed on race, highlighting the disparity between the public and those in power.

The president, who previously refused to denounce white supremacy, instead telling violent groups to “stand by”, was asked to address his position.

“You always do this,” he said, before Ms Guthrie had finished the question, “I denounce white supremacy, okay? I denounced white supremacy for years, but you always do it, you always start off with the question.”

Mr Trump then pivoted quickly, adding: “You didn’t ask Joe Biden whether or not he denounces ANTIFA.”

For Mr Biden, the point in question was just as prickly, with one voter pressing him to explain a crime bill he wrote in 1994 which has been criticised of showing prejudice against minority groups.

Mr Biden has addressed this bill previously, and appeared to have prepared for such a question.

“Well, first of all, things have changed drastically,” he said, highlighting the fact that, at the time the bill was proposed, the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus supported it.

Mr Biden also said he opposed more drastic elements of the bill, whilst supporting aspects of it - including putting an end to jail time for drug use, which disproportionately affects African Americans.

On the topic of policing, the former vice president stood by his belief that defunding is not the answer, so long as officers are part of a community policing system, not “jump squads”.

He also proposed the creation of a study group to determine changes that can be made to improve the police.


Mr Trump downplayed being $400million in debt

A recent New York Times article leaked decades of the president’s tax returns and found that he owes more than $400million in personally-guaranteed debts that will come due in the next four years.

When asked who he owed money to, Mr Trump batted the story away and claimed that he owed very little money, in comparison to his wealth.

“When you look at vast properties like I have,” he said, “$400million is a peanut.”

“It’s a tiny percentage of my net worth,” he said, adding: “No, I don’t owe Russia money.”

Mr Trump said that he would have no qualms about revealing who is owed the money, but markedly neglected to do so.

The president also refused to release his tax returns, claiming that they’re still under audit - a defence he’s used consistently since he ran for the 2016 election.

MTA New York City Transit personnel sanitise a train in Brooklyn, NYC. 3 March, 2020. Image by Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Mr Biden shared Supreme Court concerns, but Mr Trump painted a very different picture

Both candidates were asked about the Supreme Court, but took very different approaches.

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the Republican majority in the Senate has rushed to nominate and appoint a new Justice before the next president is elected.

Their current candidate, conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, would tip the balance of the Supreme Court 6-3 in the favour of conservatives.

This has concerned Democratic lawmakers, who argue that Roe v. Wade, a historic ruling on abortion rights, as well as other landmark cases, could be overturned.

Mr Biden was asked about his thoughts on the Supreme Court, with a focus on LGBTQ+ Americans.

“I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community, something I’ve fought very hard for a long time,” he said.

Mr Biden added that healthcare could also be at risk. The Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - soon.

Mr Trump was asked if he believes it’s hypocritical that Republicans are pushing ahead with nominating a new Justice days before the election, when Obama was blocked from doing so at the end of his term, due to the vacancy appearing in an election year.

He rejected that assertion, saying it’s happened before and the current situation is no different.

He then swiftly refocused the discussion to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by several women of sexual misconduct.

“I have never seen a human being treated so badly, with false accusations and everything else. I have never seen anything like it,” Mr Trump said.


Biden appeared uncomfortable when pressed about the environment

One voter asked Mr Biden about which energy production industries he plans to implement that don’t pose a human and environmental threat.

Mr Biden was quick to reject the notion of a fracking ban, but then turned to discussing his plans.

“The future rests in renewable energy,” he said. He laid out a goal for zero carbon emissions from energy creation by 2035.

Moderator George Stephanopoulos returned to fracking, pressing Mr Biden to provide more explanation.

Mr Biden provided another competent response, but Mr Stephanopoulos continued to drill into details, and it was clear that the topic is a more sensitive one for the former vice president.

President Trump speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. 19 February, 2020. Image by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Get The Locus sent straight to your inbox
Thanks for subscribing to The Locus!
Something went wrong. Sorry about that.

What comes next?

The third presidential debate (technically the second) is scheduled for the early morning, 23 October (U.K. time), though it’s now unclear if it will take place as planned.

With the election less than three weeks away, it’s a crucial time for both candidates to be seen addressing voters and campaigning.

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