Trump, Bi­den com­pet­ing town halls on TV tonight

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - David Jack­son

Af­ter a can­celed de­bate, can­di­dates to hold fo­rums at the same time.

WASH­ING­TON – Their face- to- face de­bate can­celed, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Demo­cratic chal­lenger Joe Bi­den will in­stead hold du­el­ing town halls Thurs­day on com­pet­ing tele­vi­sion net­works.

NBC an­nounced Wed­nes­day it will host a Trump town hall at 8 p. m. EDT on Thurs­day – the same time at which ABC will be host­ing a sim­i­lar event with Bi­den in Philadel­phia.

The Trump event will be in Mi­ami, which was sup­posed to be the site of a sec­ond de­bate be­tween the two can­di­dates. That show­down was can­celed af­ter Trump re­fused to par­tic­i­pate once it was moved to a vir­tual for­mat be­cause of his COVID- 19 di­ag­no­sis.

The Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial De­bates, which spon­sored the first Trump- Bi­den de­bate on Sept. 29 in Cleve­land, called for the sec­ond con­test to be vir­tual be­cause of the threat of con­ta­gion from Trump. Af­ter Trump re­jected the idea, the par­ties were un­able to agree on an al­ter­nate for­mat.

The de­bate also fell apart at a time when Trump be­gan trail­ing Bi­den in some polls by dou­ble dig­its, and as the Demo­cratic chal­lenger builds leads in

key states like Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin.

Now Trump will meet with “a group of Florida vot­ers on crit­i­cal is­sues im­pact­ing their vote less than three weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day,” NBC said in an­nounc­ing its Mi­ami town hall as a de­bate re­place­ment.

Com­ing two weeks af­ter Trump tested pos­i­tive for COVID- 19, the event “will take place out­doors at the Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami in ac­cor­dance with guide­lines set forth by health officials and con­sis­tent with all gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions,” NBC said.

Trump, NBC mod­er­a­tor Sa­van­nah Guthrie, and the crowd will be so­cially dis­tanced, the net­work said.

NBC also re­leased a state­ment by Dr. Clifford Lane, clin­i­cal di­rec­tor at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, say­ing that he and in­fec­tious dis­eases ex­pert An­thony Fauci have re­viewed the pres­i­dent’s case and cleared him for the pub­lic ap­pear­ance.

ABC said its town hall will be held “in ac­cor­dance with state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment health and safety reg­u­la­tions, as well as guide­lines set for­ward by health officials.”

The two can­di­dates are still sched­uled to hold a final de­bate Oct. 22.

AP

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump

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