Trump, Biden to hold competing town halls on day of canceled debate

Trump, Biden to hold competing town halls at same time

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will appear for town halls on competing networks at the same time Thursday night following the cancellation of a planned presidential debate.

Officials with ABC News last week announced plans to host a town hall with Biden moderated by George Stephanopoulos, the network’s chief anchor. The event is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT Thursday in Philadelphia.

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On Wednesday, officials with NBC News announced Trump will participate in a town hall moderated by “TODAY” show anchor Savannah Guthrie at the same time and date in Miami.

The events will take place in lieu of a presidential debate.

Last week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced plans to conduct the second matchup between Trump and Biden virtually after the president tested positive for COVID-19. The event was canceled after Trump announced he would not participate unless the debate was held in person.

“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” Trump said Thursday in an interview with the Fox Business Network. “That’s not what debating is about -- you sit behind a computer and do a debate, that’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”

Officials with his campaign initially said the president would hold a rally instead and suggested that the next two presidential debates, which were scheduled for Thursday and Oct. 22, be pushed back so that they could be held in person. Officials with the Biden campaign rejected that idea, noting that both campaigns agreed to the dates of the debates in June.

“We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communication’s director, Kate Bedingfield, said last week in a statement. “Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”

Trump announced early Oct. 2 that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. The president was briefly hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Hospital. His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, confirmed Monday that the president has since tested negative for COVID-19.