Donald Trump evasive, Joe Biden rambling in dueling town halls

biden trump
The presidential rivals took questions in different cities on different networks.

President Donald Trump was evasive Thursday night when pressed if he took a COVID-19 test before his first debate with Democrat Joe Biden as the two men squared off again, in a way, after their scuttled second showdown was replaced by dueling televised town halls several channels apart.

Biden, appearing nearly 1,200 miles away, denounced the White House’s handling of the virus that has claimed more than 215,000 American lives, declaring that it was at fault for closing a pandemic response office established by the Obama administration. Trump, meanwhile, was defensive and insisted that the nation was turning the corner on the virus, even as his own battle with the disease took center stage.

Trump, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, dodged directly answering whether he took a test the day of the Sept. 29 debate, only saying “possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.” Debate rules required that each candidate, using the honor system, had tested negative prior to the Cleveland event, but Trump spoke in circles when asked when he last tested negative.

It was his positive test two days later that created Thursday’s odd spectacle, which deprived most viewers of a simultaneous look at the candidates just 19 days before Election Day. The moment seemed fitting for a race unlike any other, as yet another campaign ritual was changed by the pandemic that has rewritten the norms of society.

The presidential rivals took questions in different cities on different networks: Trump on NBC from Miami, Biden on ABC from Philadelphia. Trump backed out of plans for the presidential faceoff originally scheduled for the evening after debate organizers said it would be held virtually following Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

The town halls offered a different format for the two candidates to present themselves to voters, after the pair held a chaotic and combative first debate late last month. The difference in the men’s tone was immediate and striking.

Trump was Trump. He was loud and argumentative, fighting with the host, Savannah Guthrie, refusing to outright condemn the QAnon conspiracy group, testily declaring he would denounce white supremacy but complaining about the questioning — and eventually saying for the first time that he would honor the results of a fair election, but only after casting an extraordinary amount doubt on the likeliness of fairness.

“And then they talk ’Will you accept a peaceful transfer,’” Trump said. “And the answer is, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I want it to be an honest election, and so does everybody else.”

Biden meanwhile, took a far different, softer, approach with audience questions. The former vice president, who struggled growing up with a stutter, stuttered slightly at the start of the show and at one point squeezed his eyes shut and slowed down his response to clearly enunciate his words. At times his answers droned on.

Dressed in a blue suit and holding a white cloth mask in one hand, the Democratic nominee also brought a small card of notes on stage and referred to it while promising to roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

He said doing so would save “let me see… $92 billion.”

The two men are still scheduled to occupy the same space for a debate for a second and final time next week in Nashville. But the cancellation of Thursday’s debate still reverberated for both campaigns.

Trump and Biden battled on Sept. 29 in Cleveland in a debate defined both by the president’s constant hectoring of his opponent, which sent his support lower, and by its place on the calendar: just two days before Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Trump was hospitalized for three days, and while he later convalesced at the White House the debate commission moved to make their second debate remote — which the president immediately rejected.

Earlier Thursday, Trump appeared at a rally in North Carolina, underscoring the challenge confronting him in the final weeks as multiple polls have shown him trailing Biden nationally and in many swing states. Trump has spent much of the week on defense, campaigning in states he won in 2016, such as North Carolina and Iowa, where he campaigned Wednesday.

But despite the polling, Trump predicted a “big, beautiful red wave” on Election Night, before referencing another one of his major challenges: A cash disadvantage to the Biden campaign, which just announced raising a record-breaking $383 million in September.

Associated Press



    October 15, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    “At times his answers droned on.”

    I disagree. Biden fully answered questions, rather than being evasive and opaque. Biden was transparent, respectful, and informative. The fact that he chooses to converse, rather than lie, condescend and deflect does not translate to “droning on.”

    As a voter, I’d rather get more information from a candidate than less or, in Trump’s case, None or outright lies.

    Your reporting on Biden’s Town Hall performance is misleading and inaccurate.

  • jonzahn

    October 15, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    My daughter is a Nurse in a rest home. There are patients there with more intelligence. Biden is an old man and it shows.


    1. Free Healthcare for Illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients & their families. Taxpayer-funded with one estimate at $52 trillion.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    2. Citizenship for 30 to 50 million illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients, and their families with a cost of billions to taxpayers.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    3. De-fund Police. Biden is doing his best to walk this back. In the Senate (so there’s a record), Kamala Harris called it “re-imagine law enforcement.” Biden recently stated he was in favor, quote “redirecting law enforcement funds.” If Biden/Harris is elected, you know what will happen.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    4. Taxes. Biden has stated he will raise taxes to over 4 trillion. With this Democrat platform, he will have to.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans NO TAX INCREASES / TAX CUTS.

    5. Sanctuary Cities & States. Biden & Harris supports sanctuary cities.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    6. Immediately end all deportations of illegal aliens, Bernie’s website calls it a “moratorium” on deportations.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    7. Reparations for the race’s harmed by Caucasians (already starting in California) Biden & Kamala Harris committed to Al Sharpton to support Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations bill in the House. Basically, a tax will be levied on all people of Caucasian descent in America. The funds distributed to African Americans.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    8. Coal / Fracking: I don’t understand how voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, West Virginia can even consider voting for Biden? You do realize that as soon as Biden/Harris takes office. Fracking, Coal Mining jobs are long gone You’re voting for your own unemployment in these states people. The Democrat Governors in these states know this and still support Biden. Sacrifice jobs of their citizens for a Biden Presidency.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    9. The 2nd Amendment will be under attack even more under Biden. Biden stated, “Beto O’Rourke will be his gun Czar,” “Hel yeah I’m coming for your guns.”
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    10. Medicare for all: Ending of all private / employer-based health care Feds run everything. This is Kamala Harris’s baby. Kiss goodbye to your healthcare plan if Biden/Harris is elected. Taxpayer-funded at a cost of trillions.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    11. Free college for all, including illegal aliens & non-citizens Bernie Sanders’s plan adopted. (taxpayer-funded with estimates in the billions).
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    12. Immediately decriminalize all illegal entry into our country. So no need for the Border Patrol.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    13. Open Borders.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    14. De-fund & terminate border patrol & ICE. Funds redistributed to other programs.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    If Joe Biden is elected President America will be on fire by the leftist terrorists only Biden won’t send federal officers to help. Biden/Harris will support the rioters as they, and the Democrat party have throughout.

    Thank you for reading.

  • James

    October 15, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    You are absolutely correct. There was no ‘droning”, but very thorough and concise answers to every single question asked. He was presidential this evening, and he definitely made my mind up for me and then some. Not a single question dodged. How refreshing.

  • Mel Thomas

    October 15, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    The only ones for Biden are Iran, China, Russia, N Korea, Antifa, BLM, Any country that owes the United States money, Democrats, Communists, Socialists, Illegal Aliens, and programmed unconscious white taxpayers.

    How do you like Democrat-Socialism so far?

    If Joe Biden is elected President America will be on fire by the leftist terrorists only Biden won’t send federal officers to help. Biden/Harris will support the rioters as they, and the Democrat party have throughout.

    Here are the Socialists and far-left Democrats who are supporting & fundraising for Biden. llhan Omar, Rashida Talib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Karen Bass (Leader Congressional Black Caucus), Val Demings, Valerie Jarrett, Richard Blumenthal, Stacy Abrams, Cory Booker, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Chuck Schumer.

    What do these leftist Mayors & Governors listed below have in common?

    All are Democrats, all kept their economy closed as long as they could (many still are) and all ordered police in their cities to stand down allowing the city to be looted, burned. citizens beat in the streets, killings, monuments destroyed, All support Biden.

    Ralph Northam (Gov VA) Tom Wolf (Gov PA), Jim Kenney (Mayor Philadelphia), JB Pritzker (Gov Il), Lori Lightfoot (Mayor Chicago), Gavin Newsom (Gov CA) Kate Brown (Gov OR), Ted Wheeler (Mayor Portland OR), Jay Inslee (Gov WA), Jenny Durkan (Mayor Seattle), Andrew Cuomo (Gov NY), Bill Di Blasio, (Mayor NY) Tim Walz (Gov MN) Jacob Frey (Mayor MN), Lyda Krewson (Mayor St. Louis), Gretchen Whitmer (Gov MI), Mike Duggan (Mayor Detroit) , Keisha Bottoms (Mayor Atlanta GA)

    (Listed here on this page are some of the socialists and far-left radicals who have infiltrated congress, senate, governors, and even mayors.)

    At least know who and what you are voting for.

    Democrats want to sell us that Biden is a “centrists.” Joe’s “centrist” policies include free health care for illegal aliens, trillions in taxes on the middle class, and once again, like his hero Obama, ship our jobs overseas and flooding our country with illegal aliens. Sounds pretty liberal to me? Bidens’ policies almost mirror that of socialist Bernie Sanders’s platform.

    Vote Republican across the board.

  • Palmer Tom

    October 15, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    Watched Trump dodge and weave and claim he was for everything he actually opposes. Very entertaining.

  • Ocean Joe

    October 16, 2020 at 6:33 am

    You can’t rely on the polls, but the amped up frequency of the ‘cut and paste’ gang about the coming disaster of communism and socialism and Martians taking over reflects Trump’s own desperation.

    A defeated Trump will be a complete wild man between November and January, but will spend most of that time playing golf. He cheats on that too.

  • James Robert Miles

    October 16, 2020 at 7:13 am

    In desperation, the next thing Trump will say is that if Biden wins, the Chinese will tunnel through the Earth and convert the U.S. to communism and or socialism, in other words, they are coming to get you! If Trump wins he will convert the U.S. into a fascist state. Trump always lies so the choice is yours! VOTE HIM OUT, LOCK HIM UP!! DUMP TRUMP 2020, Save America from fascism and save your Social Security!!

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 16, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Evasive give me a Fing beak. Truth is truth. Biden bases decisions on the common good!!! Trump bases decisions on devious lies and what’s in it for Trump! Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the common good!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn