Who performed better in the Town Halls: Biden or Trump?


Fact Box

  • After Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, he backed out of the second debate, and it was canceled by the Commission on Presidential Debates. 
  • The debate was rescheduled in unique fashion for Thursday, October 16; Joe Biden at a town hall event with ABC, and Trump at NBC’s town hall. 
  • Trump discussed his defense of his response to the coronavirus, denial of knowing about QAnon, a potential peaceful transfer of power if he loses, and his denouncement of white supremacists. 
  • Biden addressed mistakes in the 1994 crime bill, voter motivation from the younger demographic, and court packing in relation to Judge Barrett. 
  • As of October 16, the latest polls suggest Biden as the winner for the presidential election with 279 Democrat votes, while Trump is at 125 Republican votes in the electoral college.

Andrew (Biden)

When one compares the two candidates' town hall events, it's clear that Joe Biden was more successful than President Trump in presenting an even tone, poise, and general presidential appearance that voters find palatable. Throughout his town hall, President Trump was rude and condescending to NBC news moderator, Savannah Guthrie. Her rapid questioning and factual observances seemed to prickle him in particular. This appearance surely will not help him with women voters, a group with which he already struggles. On the contrary, Joe Biden was at home in this uninterrupted, long-format interview. He answered questions fully, frequently asking if he had fully addressed the question.

One of the key issues of the election will be the pandemic, and on this front, President Trump failed miserably. He was unable to coherently and concretely answer questions about if and when he had tested negative and even claimed that wearing masks is ineffective. Americans are very concerned about the rapidly increasing spread of the virus and President Trump's irresponsible handling of it.

Joe Biden beat President Trump on substance as well. Biden's town hall was filled with wonky policy positions and details about what his administration will do for people. Though it may not have made for exciting TV, it was undoubtedly more presidential. On the contrary, President Trump had angry exchanges where he refused to denounce QAnon and other conspiracy theories, which he has recently retweeted. Pete Buttigieg summarized a potential Biden presidency in a memorable tweet, 'Just imagine turning on the TV, seeing your president, and feeling your blood pressure go down instead of up.'

Bill (Trump) 

President Trump performed better in his town hall event last night with NBC than his rival, Joe Biden, in his appearance with ABC. The purpose of town hall events is to give candidates a forum to connect with voters by addressing most constituents' issues. The events are typically hosted by a news anchor who introduces pre-selected voters with questions addressed to the candidates. 

Rather than serve as an impartial host and allow voters to determine the evening's agenda, Guthrie inserted herself into an adversary role in relation to President Trump. She spent the first 20 minutes (of a 60-minute event) cross-examining the president on topics that matter little to voters (questions about Qanon and denouncing white supremacists instead of lifting plans for the lockdown and ending Antifa-led riots).

This gambit by NBC enabled Trump to claim the high ground by asserting, 'the media is so fake and so corrupt' that without Twitter he 'wouldn't be able to get the word out.' Trump succeeded in changing the narrative to topics of more substance: 'Why aren't you asking me about Antifa? Why aren't you asking me about the radical left?' 

In contrast, during his congenial appearance on ABC (where he faced no opposition from the host), Biden reversed his position on banning fracking—an important industry in key Rust Belt swing states—'despite previous repeated claims that he would.' His inconsistencies went unchallenged. Moreover, as Trump pointed out, Biden faced no questions about 'the corruption' in Biden's family, and not 'one question about how Big Tech is protecting him.'

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