/Biden, Trump appear in dueling town halls

Biden, Trump appear in dueling town halls

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will face off against each other on Thursday night, but on opposite television channels instead of opposite sides of the stage.

Each will hold nationally televised town halls at the same time on different networks on a night that was originally scheduled to hold the second presidential debate.

The debate was canceled after Trump backed out because he objected to the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to make the event a virtual debate. The CPD made the change after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

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The town hall forums will give each a chance to answer questions directly from voters and lay out their vision of the country’s future with less than three weeks remaining before Election Day.

The Trump town hall, which is being held in Miami, will air on NBC at 8 p.m. ET and last one hour, while the Biden town hall in Philadelphia will air on ABC at 8 p.m. ET and last 90 minutes.

The simultaneous town halls ignited criticism among some supporters of Biden, who called on NBC to reschedule the event with Trump, which had been scheduled after the vice president’s event.

More than 100 actors and directors involved in NBC Universal productions signed a petition calling for the townhall to be moved.

NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde said the while the network shares the “frustration” of holding two events at the same time, the decision was “motivated only by fairness, not business considerations” because NBC had hosted a similar event with Biden on Oct. 5 at during the same 8 p.m. timeslot.

At a rally in Greenville, N.C. Thursday, Trump added his own criticism of the network, which he called “the worst.” He complained that NBC’s town hall with Joe Biden was “a joke,” and predicted he’d get rougher questions than Biden did.

Both town hall venues will have extra coronavirus-related safety measures in place.

The Trump event will take place outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in accordance with guidelines set forth by health officials and consistent with all government regulations. Moderator Savannah Guthrie and the president will be at least 12 feet apart from each other and the audience.

The audience will also be socially distanced and required to wear masks, answer a symptoms questionnaire and take a temperature check before entering the outdoor venue.

The Biden town hall at the National Constitution Center, which is being moderated by George Stephanopoulos, will be held in accordance with state and local government health and safety regulations, and guidelines set by health officials, according to ABC.

The debate the town halls are replacing was the first to be canceled since the advent of regular televised presidential debates in 1976. The debate, which had been originally scheduled to take place in Miami, was to be moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, who was indefinitely suspended from the network on Thursday after he admitted to making up a claim that his Twitter account had been hacked.

The final presidential debate is still scheduled for Oct. 22nd in Nashville, with NBC News’s Kristen Welker moderating.

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