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DUEL OF THE TOWN HALLS

President Trump and former Vice President Biden held separate town hall meetings in place of the typical Presidential Town Hall Debate on Oct. 15, 2020. In their respective town hall broadcasts, questions were presented to the candidates by a diverse group of voters. Some present in each town hall had already decided to vote for Mr. Trump, others had decided to vote for Mr. Biden, and others were still undecided in their vote.

To begin the President’s town hall, moderator Savannah Guthrie asked Mr. Trump questions about his COVID testing history and current Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The President avoided directly answering both questions.

Guthrie also asked the President to condemn white supremacy as well as the online conspiracy group QAnon. President Trump seemingly learned from his mistake from the first presidential debate and claimed to have historically condemned white supremacy in his town hall event. “I denounced white supremacy. I denounced white supremacy for years… I denounced white supremacy. I denounce antifa,
and I denounce these people on the left that are burning down our cities,” the President said.

When asked about the online conspiracy group QAnon, Mr. Trump claimed to be unaware of the group and its many conspiracies. Upon being further pressed, Mr. Trump said, “What I do hear about [QAnon] is that they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that.” QAnon has gained popularity recently with help from a small number of government officials who claim to believe and support some
QAnon conspiracies.

Voters were then given the opportunity to ask the President questions. For the rest of the town hall event, voters posed questions to Mr. Trump about his response to the pandemic, his stance on masks, immigration issues, and a handful of other current issues.

Vice President Biden held a town hall event in Philadelphia, Pa. on Oct. 15, 2020. In the town hall, voters were able to question the former Vice President almost immediately after the broadcast had begun.
During his town hall event, Mr. Biden vowed reverse the rollback of transgender rights that occurred during President Trump’s administration. “There should be zero discrimination,” Mr. Biden said. The former VP continued and, according to the New York Times, insensitively described a transgender person, saying his late son’s work to pass transgender protections as Delaware’s attorney general was
because of “a young man who became a woman.”

Pennsylvania is an important swing state in this election, and that fact did not elude Mr. Biden during his town hall event. When asked about his stance on fracking, an issue that concerns many Pennsylvanians, the former Vice President stated he did not want to ban fracking, but he would like to “stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil.”

“We don’t need to subsidize oil any longer. We should stop that and save billions of dollars over time,” Mr. Biden said. Former Vice President Biden has proposed ending new permits for fracking on federal lands, but has not supported a national ban on fracking, according to the New York Times.

When asked about the climate crisis, Mr. Biden stated he does not support the Green New Deal (GND). Though Mr. Biden’s website states the Green New Deal is a framework for his climate crisis response, Mr. Biden denied that the GND is being used for inspiration to combat climate change. Mr. Biden’s website says the GND is a “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”

The town hall events were meant to help undecided voters learn more about each candidate and reach a voting decision between the two candidates. Following these broadcasts, the final presidential debate was held on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Sources: The New York Times, joebiden.com

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