Despite the Debate Commission’s decision to nix the second presidential debate, it appears that the nation will still hear from both candidates on Thursday evening. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will hold separate town hall events on different networks to address the American public.
The two town hall-style events will create a competition for ratings as each candidate makes their plea for votes. There will likely be no shortage of media spin regardless of how the battle turns out.
The events were scheduled after Trump announced that he would not participate in a virtual debate due to his coronavirus diagnosis. “I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said. Biden stated that he would refuse to engage in an in-person debate as was initially planned, so the commission canceled the entire event.
According to The Guardian, Trump campaign insiders feared that the president had “squandered one of the few remaining opportunities to draw a positive contrast with his opponent and right his listing campaign” when he opted out of the virtual debate. But now, the town hall may give him a chance to do just that.
President Trump will take questions live from Florida voters in Miami. His event will be broadcast on the NBC network along with CNBC and MSNBC. Journalist Savannah Guthrie will host the president’s event.
On the other hand, Biden’s event, which will be hosted by George Stephanopoulos, will take place in Philadelphia and be broadcast on ABC’s network. Each event will start at 8 pm ET.
NBC assured viewers on Wednesday that medical professionals said it was safe for producers and other staff to interact with the president at the event and that it would be safe for voters in the audience. The network released a statement from Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health, acknowledging that Trump was “not shedding infectious virus.”
With Trump still trailing in the polls, he needs an opportunity to turn the situation around. The debate’s cancelation certainly didn’t help, but a town hall would be the next best thing for him. While he will not be able to refute Biden in real time, he can still answer voters’ questions in a live format.
It’s also worth noting that while the two candidates are not going to debate one another directly, this will still be a competition for ratings, meaning that the one who gets the highest ratings might be considered the “winner.” Of course, if Trump’s event gets more viewers, the corporate press will likely try to spin it in a way that works in Biden’s favor.
Either way, if Trump makes a good showing, it will only help him to remain competitive. Also, there is still one more debate left, and even though these events don’t typically sway a significant number of voters, this race will be close enough that Trump needs to take every single advantage that he can get.
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