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TV ratings battle? Trump & Biden to hold competing town hall events in lieu of scrapped 2nd presidential debate

TV ratings battle? Trump & Biden to hold competing town hall events in lieu of scrapped 2nd presidential debate
Donald Trump will speak to voters during a town hall event on Thursday, at the exact same time that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will hold his own Q&A. The two political rivals were supposed to debate face-to-face.

NBC News announced that Trump has signed on to a town hall event, moderated by ‘TODAY’ anchor Savannah Guthrie, which will take place on the same evening and at the same time that Biden will be fielding questions from voters in Philadelphia. The Republican incumbent will converse with a group of Florida voters at Miami’s Pérez Art Museum, NBC said, adding that the event would be held outside and would adhere to the state’s coronavirus guidelines. The network said that the White House’s medical staff had given Trump the green light to participate in the event and that the NBC crew would be tested for coronavirus on-site in Miami. 

Trump was originally scheduled to spar with Biden on Thursday, but the debate was canceled after the president rejected a proposal to hold the event virtually. The US Commission on Presidential Debates had argued that the candidates should not meet face-to-face, after Trump tested positive and was briefly hospitalized for Covid-19. The Trump campaign accused the commission of interfering with the debate process and “doing everything they can to protect Joe Biden.”

Biden’s town hall will be broadcast by ABC News and moderated by the network’s chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos. The dueling town halls could lead to boasting over which televised event drew in the most viewers. 

The presidential contenders are still slated to face off on October 22 for a final debate before November’s election. The first event was described as a chaotic slugfest, with many pundits accusing moderator Chris Wallace of becoming a third debater. 

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