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US Election 2020 Highlights: Joe Biden pips Donald Trump overall as duelling town halls come to a close

US Election 2020 LIVE Updates: Joe Biden vowed for the first time to come out with a clear position before Election Day on whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court

FP Staff October 16, 2020 08:10:20 IST
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US Election 2020 Highlights: Joe Biden pips Donald Trump overall as duelling town halls come to a close

File image of two photos showing both US President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on 29 September. AP

Highlights

07:40 (ist)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

First impressions from twin town halls

Initially, the idea to schedule a town hall on NBC News for the President of the United States at the same time as Joe Biden's town hall on ABC News seemed like a brilliantly disruptive tactic by the most disruptive American commander-in-chief in recent times. The Donald Trump camp probably banked on winning the ratings battle — hoping it would in some way turn into votes — if not the "debate" outright, because if nothing else, POTUS on TV nearly always makes for must-watch television.

But did it pan out? Not really. The Trump event was expected to be a fiesty back-and-forth that would probably not throw up many answers to questions on policy matters and it was just that. The only anomaly came in the form of NBC News' Savannah Guthrie, whose relentless efforts to not just moderate, but vigorously shake down Trump for answers and fact-check him in real time were in stark contrast to the role played by the more subdued Chris Wallace in the first presidential debate.

Meanwhile on ABC, moderator George Stephanopoulos barely ever stepped on Biden's toes and almost never interrupted him. While searching questions and follow-ups were asked of the former vice-president, the tone and tenor of those matched the gentler vibe of the event when compared with what was happening over on NBC.

The Trump event stuck staunchly to its approximately 60-minute runtime (punctuated by a handful of commercial breaks) and we learned very little about how a potential second term would be different to the incumbent's ongoing term. Meanwhile the other town hall, which never seemed rushed and ran a leisurely 90-or-so minutes (interspersed with a whole lot of advertisements), featured Biden at his loquacious best, taking his own time to elaborate on various aspects of his manifesto and proposed policy. That he stuck around to speak to the sparse and socially-distant members of the audience for a long time (in fact he's still at it!) after his town hall was done, demonstrated a touch of empathy alongside the hard-to-argue fact that he has a clutch of policy ideas.

- FP Politics

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Oct 16, 2020 - 08:03 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Trump's foreign policy has left US 'less secure': Biden

Mark Hoffman, a Republican from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, asked Biden whether President Trump’s foreign policy deserves some credit?

"We find ourselves in a position where we’re more isolated in the world than we ever been," Biden said.

“I do compliment the president on the deal with Israel recently,” Biden said referring to agreements brokered by Trump with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel. But Trump’s “America First” policy with US allies has translated into “America alone”, Biden said.

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:57 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Savannah Guthrie for the win 

NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie received widespread praise for her questioning of Donald Trump, after she grilled the president on his past coronavirus test results and his thoughts on the QAnon conspiracy theory, which he refused to denounce.

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:55 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Biden pledges protections for transgender people

Joe Biden says there should be "zero discrimination" against transgender people and he promised to restore protections for them that President Donald Trump has sought to remove.

At his ABC News town hall Thursday, Biden said he would reverse Trump’s moves to revoke protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care and restrict military service by transgender men and women. He also condemned violence against transgender women of color.

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:44 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

But who won the second round?

While Joe Biden arguably put in his best performance so far and seemed far more at ease in the absence of constant interjections and vitriolic jabs, Donald Trump would have scored plenty of points with his vote bank by sticking to his refrain of 'best economy ever' and possibly turned a few undecided voters towards him with the 'martyred by the media' performance.

Overall, the eager-to-discuss-issues Biden seemed the more substantive candidate on the night than Trump, whose crusade against the media overtook any desire to share his plan with voters.

- FP Politics

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:40 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

First impressions from twin town halls

Initially, the idea to schedule a town hall on NBC News for the President of the United States at the same time as Joe Biden's town hall on ABC News seemed like a brilliantly disruptive tactic by the most disruptive American commander-in-chief in recent times. The Donald Trump camp probably banked on winning the ratings battle — hoping it would in some way turn into votes — if not the "debate" outright, because if nothing else, POTUS on TV nearly always makes for must-watch television.

But did it pan out? Not really. The Trump event was expected to be a fiesty back-and-forth that would probably not throw up many answers to questions on policy matters and it was just that. The only anomaly came in the form of NBC News' Savannah Guthrie, whose relentless efforts to not just moderate, but vigorously shake down Trump for answers and fact-check him in real time were in stark contrast to the role played by the more subdued Chris Wallace in the first presidential debate.

Meanwhile on ABC, moderator George Stephanopoulos barely ever stepped on Biden's toes and almost never interrupted him. While searching questions and follow-ups were asked of the former vice-president, the tone and tenor of those matched the gentler vibe of the event when compared with what was happening over on NBC.

The Trump event stuck staunchly to its approximately 60-minute runtime (punctuated by a handful of commercial breaks) and we learned very little about how a potential second term would be different to the incumbent's ongoing term. Meanwhile the other town hall, which never seemed rushed and ran a leisurely 90-or-so minutes (interspersed with a whole lot of advertisements), featured Biden at his loquacious best, taking his own time to elaborate on various aspects of his manifesto and proposed policy. That he stuck around to speak to the sparse and socially-distant members of the audience for a long time (in fact he's still at it!) after his town hall was done, demonstrated a touch of empathy alongside the hard-to-argue fact that he has a clutch of policy ideas.

- FP Politics

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:26 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Green New Deal timeframe unachievable: Biden

Joe Biden is putting distance between his clean energy goals and the Green New Deal, saying the policy plan popular with progressives isn’t achievable within the timeframes it has laid out.

At a Thursday town hall, he pointed to a piece of the deal that calls for 100% renewable and zero-emission energy sources by 2030. Biden said that "you can’t get there” and that the country needs more time to invest in technologies that will eventually lead to net-zero emissions.

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:16 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Biden to have clear stance on expansion of Supreme Court 

Joe Biden vowed for the first time to come out with a clear position before Election Day on whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court. While he reiterated that he was “not a fan” of the concept, the comments were some of his most direct yet on an issue that has followed him since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Asked by the host, George Stephanopoulos, during the ABC town hall event on Thursday if he would be open to increasing the number of justices on the nation’s highest court after senators vote on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Biden said, "I’m open to considering what happens from that point on."

Oct 16, 2020 - 07:14 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Trump won't say anything on Roe vs Wade

Donald Trump was asked Thursday about the ruling establishing abortion rights nationwide during a town hall in Florida. He said, “I don’t want to do anything to influence anything right now.”

Trump, who nominated Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court, says he worries that discussing his viewpoint could be seen as “trying to give her a signal” on how to rule.

Oct 16, 2020 - 06:44 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Biden on fracking ban 

Joe Biden reiterated his opposition to banning fracking, a crucial issue for voters in Pennsylvania, where his town hall is taking place. Biden reiterated he did not support banning fracking, but he emphasized that fracking must be handled safely.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos told Biden, “Not everyone buys your denial” on a fracking ban.

Trump has consistently said Biden would ban fracking, and the Democratic nominee has offered numerous denials of that.

Oct 16, 2020 - 06:37 (IST)

US Elections 2020 LATEST updates

Have done a great job: Trump

Trump town hall comes to a close as he thumps his chest about the economy and jobs he's created and promises that next year will be even better. When asked why people should vote for him, the president replied, "Because I've done a great job"

Biden says Black voters to find fairer justice system, economic oppurtunity if voted to power

US Election 2020 LATEST Updates: Joe Biden vowed for the first time to come out with a clear position before Election Day on whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court.

Among the policies Biden ticked off were a proposal to invest $70 billion in historically Black colleges and universities and universal pre-kinerdergarten.

He made a direct appeal to Black voters at the ABC town hall on Thursday night, vowing to make the criminal justice system "fair" and "more decent" and to create more opportunities for people of color to build up wealth.

Trump said he wouldn't release his tax returns because of "common sense", adding "If they have my tax returns, as you know, they have to go to jail."

Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden will compete for TV audiences in dueling town halls instead of meeting face-to-face for their second debate as originally planned.

The two will take questions in different cities on different networks Thursday night: 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 shifted the format to a virtual event following Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.

As the pace of the campaign speeds up in its final weeks, the two candidates first are taking care of other electoral necessities Thursday: Trump has a midday rally in battleground North Carolina, and Biden is raising campaign cash at a virtual event.

Trump has also been trying to shore up support from constituencies that not so long ago he thought he had in the bag: big business and voters in the red state of Iowa.

In a Wednesday morning address to business leaders, he expressed puzzlement that they would even consider supporting Biden, arguing that his own leadership was a better bet for a strong economy. Later, the president held his third campaign rally in three nights, this time in Iowa, a state he won handily in 2016 but where Biden is making a late push.

Trump claimed to be leading in the most recent Iowa poll he saw. “For me to only be up six, I'm a little bit concerned,” he asserted. Multiple polls have shown a much closer race.

Biden, for his part, held a virtual fundraiser from Wilmington, Delaware, and used his appearance to say that Trump was trying to rush through Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee for the Supreme Court, to help his efforts to repeal the Obama health care law, calling that “an abuse of power.”

Trump used his economic address Wednesday to play up his administration's commitment to lowering taxes and deregulation of industry, and he didn't hide his frustration with signs that some in the business community are tilting to Biden.

“I know I’m speaking to some Democrats, and some of you are friends of mine,” Trump said in a virtual address to the Economic Clubs of New York, Florida, Washington, DC, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Should Biden be elected, he continued, “you will see things happen that will not make you happy. I don’t understand your thinking.”

The former vice president has collected more than $50 million in campaign contributions from donors in the securities and investment sectors, according to the private nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. During his decades in the Senate representing Delaware, a center for the credit card and banking industries, Biden built relationships and a voting record in the business sector that has raised suspicion on the left but provides Wall Street with a measure of ease at the prospect of a Biden administration.

After being sidelined by the coronavirus, Trump resumed a breakneck schedule this week, with aides saying he is expected to travel and host campaign rallies every day through 3 November. Trump has appeared hale in his public appearances since reemerging from quarantine, though at moments during his economic address on Wednesday his voice was raspy.

In Iowa, Trump tossed away his tie and donned a red hat to fight off the stiff breeze on the airport tarmac. He made a direct appeal to the state’s farmers, saying that he was responsible for $28 billion in aid designed to help offset damage stemming from his trade war with China. “I hope you remember that on 3 November," Trump said.

But after years of farmers supporting him despite the trade war, some Republicans say Trump’s renewable fuel policy has sown some doubt.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency granted dozens of waivers to petroleum companies seeking to bypass congressional rules requiring the level of the corn-based fuel additive ethanol that gasoline must contain. He has recently denied more waiver requests, but the EPA’s previous action removed about 4 billion gallons of ethanol demand, resulting in the closure — at least temporarily — of more than a dozen ethanol plants in Iowa.

While mostly laying low on Wednesday, Biden has stepped up campaign travel in the past week, with visits to Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Pennsylvania. The former vice president isn’t introducing new themes in his pitch that he’s a steady alternative to Trump. Biden and his aides believe the president’s scattershot campaign messaging since his COVID-19 diagnosis proves the core of Biden’s case.

Trump’s return to Iowa came as he has been forced into playing defense following a widely panned performance in the first debate and his illness. Republicans have raised alarm that enthusiasm among Trump’s base has waned slightly after the one-two punch of those events, casting his reelection into doubt.

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