President Donald Trump sits during a break in an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday. Photo: AP/Evan Vucci
world

In split-screen town halls, Trump and Biden squabble over coronavirus response

63 Comments
By Steve Holland and Michael Martina

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday criticized what he called President Donald Trump's "panicked" response to the coronavirus pandemic, while Trump defended his handling of a crisis that has killed more than 216,000 Americans.

The rivals spoke in simultaneous town halls broadcast on separate television networks after a debate originally scheduled for Thursday was called off following Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis.

The split-screen showdown offered a stark reminder of the many ways the campaign season has been changed by a pandemic that has prompted more than 18 million people to cast ballots more than two weeks before Election Day on Nov 3.

bidentownhall.jpg
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Thursday. Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster

Biden, speaking to voters in Philadelphia on ABC, blamed the Republican president for concealing the deadliness of the virus.

"He said he didn't tell anybody because he was afraid Americans would panic," Biden said. "Americans don't panic. He panicked."

Trump defended both his response to the pandemic as well as his own personal conduct, including staging a Rose Garden event at the White House where few wore masks or practiced social distancing, which resulted in numerous attendees contracting the disease.

"Hey, I'm president - I have to see people, I can't be in a basement," Trump said on NBC in front of an outdoor audience of voters in Miami, implicitly criticizing Biden for spending months off the campaign trail as the pandemic raged.

He did not answer questions about the last time he tested negative before contracting the virus, saying he did not recall precisely.

Trump, who aggressively interrupted Biden during a chaotic debate two weeks ago, showed little interest in altering his belligerent tone, sparring frequently with moderator Samantha Guthrie.

He said he "heard different stories" about the efficacy of masks, even though his own administration's public health experts have said wearing them is key to stopping the spread of the virus.

The president declined to denounce QAnon, the false conspiracy theory that Democrats are part of a global pedophile ring, first praising its adherents for opposing pedophilia before saying he knew nothing about the movement.

Trump also dodged questions about a New York Times investigation of two decades of his tax returns, which he has refused to release publicly despite decades of precedent for presidential candidates.

He appeared to confirm the paper's report that he has some$400 million in personally guaranteed loans, arguing that the amount was a "peanut" compared with his worth. He also did not deny the Times' report that he paid only $750 in federal income tax during his first year in the White House, although he said at one point the paper's numbers were "wrong."

The second presidential debate had originally been scheduled for Thursday, but Trump pulled out of the event after organizers decided to turn it into a virtual affair following his diagnosis two weeks ago. A final debate is still scheduled for Oct 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Trump, who spent three days in a military hospital but has since returned to the campaign trail, is trying to alter the dynamics of the race. Reuters/Ipsos polls show Biden has a significant national lead, although his advantage in battleground states is less pronounced.

North Carolina, a highly competitive state, saw huge lines as it began more than two weeks of in-person early voting on Thursday, following record turnout in Georgia and Texas earlier in the week.

Some 18.3 million Americans have voted either in person or by mail so far, representing 12.9% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Voters are seeking to avoid in-person lines on Election Day to stay safe as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, but also to make sure their ballots will count. Many are concerned that Trump will challenge widely used mail-in ballots, after his repeated claims without evidence that they were fraudulent.

The Senate confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's nominee for a vacant Supreme Court seat, prompted careful answers from both candidates. Republicans have pushed to seat Barrett before the election after refusing to do so for former Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016, saying it was inappropriate in an election year.

Biden said he was not a "fan" of court-packing, the idea promoted by some Democrats of adding justices to countermand what they view as a stolen seat. But he declined to rule it out after moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed him, saying: "It depends on how this turns out."

Trump would not say whether he would like to see abortion rights invalidated, an outcome that many legal scholars believe is more likely with the conservative Barrett on the court.

"I think that she's going to make a great decision," he said. "I did not tell her what decision to make."

In a sign of Democratic determination to defeat Trump, a massive amount of money has poured into the party's coffers in recent months.

Democratic fundraising organization ActBlue said on Thursday it collected $1.5 billion online from July to September, the most it had ever raised in one quarter. By comparison, major Republican fundraising platform WinRed said on Monday that it collected $623.5 million in the same period.

Biden's campaign collected $383 million in September, setting a new record for a U.S. campaign for the second consecutive month. The Trump campaign has not released its monthly figures.

Both candidates have been visiting battleground states this week, with Trump holding rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa and Biden traveling to Ohio and Florida.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

63 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

He did not answer questions about the last time he tested negative before contracting the virus, saying he did not recall precisely.

Uh-huh.

declined to denounce QAnon, . . . saying he knew nothing about the movement.

Uh-huh.

$400 million . . , was a "peanut" compared with his worth.

Uh-huh.

Most. Transparent. President. Ever.

Keep draining le swamp, Messr. Trump.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

More about Trump's ramblings here:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-clashes-with-savanah-guthrie-on-covid-q-anon-and-white-supremacy-set-tone-for-nbc-town-hall-014056081.html

The man is clearly lacking something!

That "magic COVID19 cure" he got must have messed even more with his brain cells.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

More words of wisdom from Honest Don.

On why he retweeted a QAnon conspiracy theory suggesting Bin Laden is still alive:

That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody, and that was a retweet. I'll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don't take a position.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Fox News is already playing the victim card for Trump. Soon his fans will be here to whine and complain, too.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Trump also dodged questions about a New York Times investigation of two decades of his tax returns, which he has refused to release publicly despite decades of precedent for presidential candidates.

And promised to do so on numerous occasions. Promises made promises meaningless.

MAGA again? Taking a while isn’t it?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

"Thousands of them are dumped in dumpsters and when you see ballots with the name Trump -- military ballots, from our great military, and they're dumped in garbage cans,"

This claim is so preposterous it must be true!

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Trump will be winner of elections-no doubt.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Trump won his debate against moderator Savannah Guthrie.

There was ONE question from voters in the first 30 mins of the 1 hour event.

-15 ( +6 / -21 )

I dont know, they made time for not one, but two, softball LGBTQ questions- including about an 8 year old transgender kid.

But no time at all to talk about allegations that "the Big Guy" received a cut of Chinese and Ukrainian money. Didnt even come up. must have been due to "time constraints".

-11 ( +7 / -18 )

See the arrogant dictator sitting with no protection. His ugly name above his head like an aura. He makes me sick.

BusbyToday  11:59 am JST

The last act of a desperate man....

Trump and his supporters know he is losing - and will lose - at this point, it's all about stemming the degree of humiliation...

The damage and shame Trump has brought to America is incalcuable. He has brought the U.S.A. to rock bottom and even Joe Biden won't be able to remedy and fix it all.

But he could be a start of a long healing process. We can hope.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

But no time at all to talk about allegations that "the Big Guy" received a cut of Chinese and Ukrainian money. Didnt even come up. must have been due to "time constraints".

You know what else didn't come up? Jared and Ivanka. Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. and the emoluments clause.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

because those have been talked about since 2015 and are old news.

Why would they be discussed yet again? these emails are new, thus are "news".

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

I think we get it that Trump base will not change their mind, whatever stupidity their childish "president" babble, because to be honest after seeing Trump's "performance" this is outrageously of a low level, even my 12 year old would be shocked.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Will this performance help Trump narrow the gap in battleground states?

That's really the only question to ask with so little time left.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Will this performance help Trump narrow the gap in battleground states?

No one knows, we don’t even know if the polls are accurate since they do sample more Democrats than Republicans overall.

-13 ( +7 / -20 )

When Trump inherited his wealth, he worked with people that were born in the 1890’s. Trump has always been all over the place, and lied so many times about his life story and accomplishments.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Well, as a Trump supporter, I think our President did a great job tonight....he was incomprehensible, unhinged, and manic - just the way we like him...

He told the truth about that fake virus - that it was "disappearing" - just look at Europe and Middle America...

https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-netherlands-italy-france-czech-republic-987993953a51f39a861c0f481c0e38f8

And I respect him as a man - just look at all he did to protect his wife and son from the virus...

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/14/politics/melania-trump-barron-covid/index.html

Our President has led the way on the virus - and I know 210K Americans who agree....

7 ( +12 / -5 )

The president declined to denounce QAnon, the false conspiracy theory that Democrats are part of a global pedophile ring

This is a ‘peanut’ compared to the steaming heap of conspiracy trash Trump has collected over the years.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Our President has led the way on the virus - and I know 210K Americans who agree....

Think it's around 215k now?

Who knows where the US will be with 4 more years of the dear leader?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

One thing trump still has going for him is the racists, they will vote for him sure.

A majority of Americans will be disgusted, again, with his juvenile performance today.

Watch out for 3 more weeks of incessant lies from trump and his rapidly diminishing coterie.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Who is this guy, really?

Dunno, is it the guy who's told over 20 thousand lies the last 4 years? Who has laughed and joked and spread misinformation (and the virus, literally) whilst 215 thousand people lost their lives?

He should be done for crimes against humanity in the International Court of Justice.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The only legitimately challenging question of the Biden Town Hall.

Cedric with some real talk for Joe Biden!

"Besides 'you ain't Black,' what do you have to say to young Black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continually fails to protect them?"

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

What was even more hilarious is that trump didn't deny owing $ 400 million, but wanted us to believe that a man who paid $750 in income tax is worth much much more than what he owes.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Savannah Guthrie'Its not like you're someone's crazy uncle'.

Mary Trump 'Hey!!!!

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I didn't watch Trump, but I'd like to know if he gave an update on his sea to shining sea wall and if he's still getting Mexico to pay for it.

And did Trump provide an update on his better-than-Obamacare-health care plan which he said he had ready a few months back.

Both the above were two big campaign promises in 2016.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

When Trump inherited his wealth, he worked with people that were born in the 1890’s.

But he didn’t write laws or passed legislation, Trump didn’t write a crime bill that disproportionately targeted blacks, put more black men in prison that any other bill written by congress. Trump didn’t plagiarized from others, in speeches snd quotes, so what’s your point?

Trump has always been all over the place,

As most businessmen are.

and lied so many times about his life story and accomplishments.

Which many fact checkers got caught and had to retract their stories.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

"Biden says crime bill was a 'mistake' during ABC town hall"

ummm Joe, this is something you DID write.

As compared to all the other things you plagiarized.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/1316900018566156293

This is hilarious. "You're not some crazy uncle, you are President of the United States "

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Democrats hope people continue to support their racist policies and as most of the minority communities will, nothing will change especially now after they burned down their own cities, none of these giant stores are coming back, too risky for them. These cities in these blue states will slowly look like Detroit, but yeah, Biden would do something about it. Lol, sure....

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

Almost nothing good happened in 2020, the only positive I can see is that we'll remove the last racist President on the US.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Yes, why are you voting for Joe Biden? (without mentioning the word "Trump" or saying anything about a person, or their actions, who is obviously him).

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I can talk positive things about Trump Town Hall all day, how many do you want?

Telling that after this town hall Trump backers once again canNOT find anything positive to say about him, default instead to 'but Biden' and 'but the media'.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Reuters/Ipsos polls show Biden has a significant national lead, although his advantage in battleground states is less pronounced.

Simply change the name biden to clinton and we read the exact same dribble, rubbish, hype and lies on this very website 4 years ago.

You believe the media? Fools !

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Yes, why are you voting for Joe Biden?

I’m not American.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Trump didn’t write a crime bill that disproportionately targeted blacks

No, just made rental policies that did.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Almost nothing good happened in 2020

Gallup's Sept. 14-28 poll found that 56% of U.S. registered voters believe they are better off now under President Trump compared to four years ago.

Hmmmm...looks positive to me.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

Biggest news of the night = Trump fails to condemn QAnon...

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/10/15/town-hall-trump-refuses-condemn-conspiracy-group-qanon/3672293001/

You can't get much nuttier than QAnon...I mean really, JFK Jr isn't dead but is blogging in secret from a basement in DC? A group the FBI has designated a domestic terror threat?

https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-nw-trump-qanon-conspiracy-theory-20200820-m6oeff7wojf77dyeupvl7u6xbu-story.html

Just think about that - Trump can't condemn a group his own FBI says are domestic terrorists...

It's just more evidence Trump knows he's lost and is trying to keep as many of his core base as he can so he can limit his humiliation...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

No, just made rental policies that did

Living in NY at that time as violent as it was and as much as crime, the mafia, the corrupt police and Frank Lucas was controlling the streets, don’t blame Trump

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

Can any of you ever speak about Biden without deflecting to Trump? who is JOE BIDEN? did he lie all those times and why? 

Questioner: Why are you voting for Joe Biden? Answer: someone screaming Trump 20 times.

Actually no, Blacklabel,

Sorry, hit post before finished

i can only speak for myself on this. Biden? A man who loves little more than the sound of his own voice. Before you go off about Hunter, as a Navy vet, I find it hard to fathom how bad one has to screw up to be BCD’d when your dad is the VP, and it’s really hard to sell the “Burisma brought him on for his expertise” story. Nobody, not even the most enthusiastic of “DNC Dems” believes that. That said, with “Beau was the good son” being pretty obvious, it doesn’t actually mean Dad is dirty. He may well be, but Hunter being ethically challenged does not make it so.

So, there is my ringing Joe Biden endorsement. Already mailed my ballot out for him.

Because your man is that bad.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Excuse me: *not used

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Almost nothing good happened in 2020, the only positive I can see is that we'll remove the last racist President on the US.

Bird of Prey was released in cinemas and later on home media.

I don't think Trump will be our last racist President.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yes, why are you voting for Joe Biden? (without mentioning the word "Trump" or saying anything about a person, or their actions, who is obviously him).

Oh now you guys don’t like whaddabouting! You probably shouldn’t have refused to debate anything Trump for the past five years then, deflecting to “whaddabouting [insert crackpot conspiracy theory]”.

Just as the world is falling out under Trump as his chickens come home to roost, so is the bottom falling out from under the morons who supported him for the past five years. Has there ever been a bigger group of losers in history? It’s satisfying to watch the world point out how they’re losers not even worth listening to.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Despite my disagreements with him, I think that kurumazaka is a good poster.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

so in other words, no you cant speak about Biden without deflecting to Trump.

Just as the world is falling out under Trump as his chickens come home to roost,

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

We’ll still need to wait till 2021 to get rid of the last racist president.

And I think he will be the last racist one, the GOP will be in tatters for years.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Gallup's Sept. 14-28 poll found that 56% of U.S. registered voters believe they are better off now under President Trump compared to four years ago.

Back to trusting polls. Flip-flop.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Living in NY at that time as violent as it was and as much as crime, the mafia, the corrupt police and Frank Lucas was controlling the streets, don’t blame Trump

Of course you don’t blame Trump, you never do. You are also agreeing that his racist rental policies were acceptable.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

https://youtu.be/vCSF3reVr10

Quid pro joe. He did what the political left wrongly accused President Trump.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

so in other words, no you cant speak about Biden without deflecting to Trump.

I support Biden because he has the qualities of a leader:

He can speak in full sentences that are understandable without a Little Orphan Annie decoder ring.

He has sympathy.

He has empathy.

He doesn’t engage in childish behavior.

When he was in government, he spent his days working instead of watching TV.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Joe is a joke...

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

so in other words, no you cant speak about Biden without deflecting to Trump.

just can’t wrap my mind around why this would surprise you...

and for the record, there seems to exist no line that Trump could even theoretically cross that would turn you against him. You continue to sprout GOP points that admittedly would be relevant in an election where neither candidate openly displayed autocratic intent.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Savannah was the star! The best moderator I've ever seen for dealing with the deceitful Don. She braked and brought screeching to a halt Trump's question-dodging motormouth spewing out lies and irrelevant nonsense and spanked him good with her fact and reality checks, a feat that few of Trump's obsequious interlocutors have been able to emulate.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The re-election is always a referendum on the incumbent. Trump is a miserable failure. I would vote for a head of shredded lettuce over Trump.

Joe is capable of empathy.

He listens to experts.

During his term, the economy grew, we were liked by our allies and facts meant something.

He will put the right people in the right positions and then let them do their job instead of demanding they do his personal bidding.

In other words, for all his faults and slips, he is the anti-trump. He’s not a narcissistic sociopath and that’s why I am voting for him.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

This is how you define a "leader"? very infantile.

Or maybe it just says a sad lot about how pathetic Donald is? Rather ironic for a Trump fan to call others infantile.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Whatever the electorate judgement of President Trump performance in office, is Joe Biden a serious alternative?

I really don't think Joe Biden is. Kamala Harris can at least can string an sentence together.

Joe Biden retired, and the man deserves a rest.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Just watched the video on YouTube.

Lying and evasion are just part of that man's makeup, as natural to him as breathing. Savannah Guthrie did a good job trying to keep Trump on track, but he is slipperier than an eel in a bath full of jelly.

That's not a compliment.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Whatever the electorate judgement of President Trump performance in office, is Joe Biden a serious alternative?

Seems the ever-wise DNC thought so...

almost funny, if Trump could have kept his damned mouth shut, lots of pissed off Bernie folk might have stayed home. Nope, he had to convince them that hyperbole is real

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Trump won his debate against moderator Savannah Guthrie.

There was ONE question from voters in the first 30 mins of the 1 hour event.

Not sure what you're talking about, I am at 27 minutes and there are already three questions from voters.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Well, kurumazaka, it appears the United States as a federal constitutional republic, has succumbed to a politically dysfunctional, on golden pond, Granddaddy duo.

Grumpy, and irritatingly irrational.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

yawn

I'd care more about the election if it was popular vote and not the electoral college system. NY is a guaranteed win for democrats, so I don't see my vote mattering either way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Savannah Guthrie did a good job trying to keep Trump on track, but he is slipperier than an eel in a bath full of jelly.

That's not a compliment.

It’s probably good that you clarified that, BigYen

seems Trump is turning on Bill Barr now...

let that sink in, Trump supporters. Bill Barr is not adequately kissing the ring anymore, probably because he didn’t go throw Obama in s dungeon. Seems the Durham report is gonna make the Mueller report seem like a blockbuster, which may explain Rudy giving the NY Post some emails, in PDF format...

this is why we don’t care if Biden isn’t the ubercandidate. Why do you all refuse to see an autocrat proudly telling you what he is?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It’s probably good that you clarified that, BigYen

In a world where what used to be good is now bad (faith in democracy, respect for proveable facts, responsibility toward others) and what used to be bad is now good (selfishness, slipperiness, utter cynicism) it's unfortunately necessary to clarify some things.

Why do you all refuse to see an autocrat proudly telling you what he is?

I'd call Trump a kakistocrat, with autocrat listed as his prime ambition.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

There was ONE question from voters in the first 30 mins of the 1 hour event.

Such an easily disprovable claim.

Not sure what you're talking about, I am at 27 minutes and there are already three questions from voters.

Thank you jaybeeb

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites