A television evening as a symbol of the election campaign: Instead of asking voters’ questions together, Donald Trump and Joe Biden appear at competing events. An overview.
Photo series with 13 pictures
After the cancellation of their TV duel, US President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden asked questions from voters on two television channels at the same time. Almost three weeks before the election on November 3, the Americans had to decide on Thursday evening (local time) whether to watch Trump on NBC or Biden on ABC. Both appeared in “swing states”, ie in contested states that could be decisive in the presidential election on November 3rd: Republican Trump in Miami, Florida, Democrat Biden a good 1600 kilometers away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Moderator Savannah Guthrie pinned Trump, who sometimes reacted irritably. “Let’s waste the whole show,” Trump said when Guthrie approached him about QAnon’s conspiracy theorists, who also have supporters among his Republicans. “It is this theory that the Democrats are a satanic pedophile ring and that you are the savior from it,” Guthrie said. Will Trump distance himself from it “once and for all”? “I don’t know about QAnon,” Trump replied, annoyed. “Let me just tell you what I hear about it is that you are very much against pedophilia and I agree with that.”
Biden admits mistakes
In the largely empty auditorium in Philadelphia, Biden calmly answered the voters’ questions – it was about the fight against the corona pandemic, the controversial police work, inequality in American society. Voters also confronted him with issues that are uncomfortable for Biden: for example, a crime-fighting law from the 1990s that backed Biden and what many blame for discrimination against minorities. Biden admitted it was a mistake to support the law. In addition, at the moderator’s insistence, he agreed to clarify before the election what he thought of an expansion of the judge’s posts at the Supreme Court. At the end of many of his sometimes long answers, Biden said to voters that he hoped to have answered the question.
Trump and his million dollar debt
Unlike when campaigning in front of supporters, President Trump had to put up with critical questions – such as his financial circumstances. His debt was only “a tiny percentage of my net worth,” Trump said. The New York Times recently reported personal debt of $ 421 million, he seemed to confirm. At first he did not want to commit himself to the moderator’s request, but then spoke of “400 million dollars” himself. As has been the case for years, he promised that he would publish his tax returns as soon as an IRS audit was completed.
Trump’s false corona statement
The president, who recently contracted Covid-19, once again made contradicting statements about the pandemic. “I say wear the masks. I have no problem with that,” he said. Trump also reiterated his false statement that, according to the CDC, 85 percent of people who wear a mask were infected with the virus. It is true that in a CDC examination, 85 percent of a group of infected people stated that they had often or always worn a mask in the 14 days before.
“He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true,” Biden accused the Republican of his handling of the corona pandemic. “If a president doesn’t wear a mask or makes fun of people like me (…), people say, ‘It won’t be that important,” “said Biden. “I think what we say is important.” With a view to the debate between the two candidates planned for next Thursday, Biden made it clear that he expected Trump to be tested again. Decency just dictates that, said Biden. For him it is not about himself, but about other people who could be endangered. “I think he (Trump) will do that,” he said.
Decisive memory gap
The President did not want to commit to when he last tested negative before his Covid illness. “I don’t even remember it,” he said. This question is important to clarify whether Trump might still be at events even though he knew of an infection. The fact that the White House and Trump’s doctors also refuse to provide information does not dispel this suspicion.
“Now it starts again”
Trump also reacted irritably when he was asked about his stance on right-wing extremists – he came under pressure because he did not want to distance himself clearly from them. “Now it’s starting again,” said Trump, visibly annoyed – and then claimed that he had condemned right-wing extremism “for years”. At the same time, however, he emphasized that he also condemned the Antifa and “these people on the left who are burning down our cities”. Trump also criticized the fact that Biden was not asked at an NBC question time last week whether he condemned Antifa.
“Bad candidate” Biden?
Biden didn’t get that this time either. But the former US Vice President made it clear that if he was elected President, he would never express himself racist or divisive. Moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Biden what defeat would tell him about what America was today. “Well it could mean that I was a lousy candidate and I didn’t do a good job,” said Biden. He does not hope that it means that people are at odds with one another on ethnic and religious issues the way Trump wants them to be.
Doubts about perseverance
Trump accused NBC of recently only asking Biden questions that even children could answer. Shortly before Question Time, he had already attacked the station during a campaign appearance in Greenville, North Carolina: “You know, I’m being set up tonight,” he said. He only agreed to appear because he got one hour of free broadcasting time. Trump also said that he would have liked to watch Biden’s appearance on ABC, “because I wanted to see whether he could make it through the show.” The 74-year-old Trump claims that his 77-year-old challenger – whom he denigrates as “sleepy Joe” – is repeatedly lacking physical and mental fitness.
Biden’s appearance on Thursday evening was even longer than Trump’s. While the president asked questions for an hour, Biden was 90 minutes – in both cases there were several short commercials. One voter could not hide from Biden that he was not entirely satisfied with an answer from Biden. Biden offered to continue talking after the show ended – which he did.
The last TV duel should take place on October 22nd
The candidates should actually be interviewed in a joint television debate. The plans for the second duel before the election on November 3 got mixed up after Trump was infected with the corona virus. Trump had refused to hold the debate online for security reasons. Biden then announced his own TV event, Trump followed suit. In national polls, the president is an average of ten percentage points behind. Trump is also currently behind Biden in key states like Pennsylvania.
The last TV debate is planned for October 22nd as a direct encounter before the election. Trump has already spoken out against rule changes to the concept of the TV duels, which the organizers had announced as a consequence of the chaos in the first debate. The first debate between the two at the end of September had slipped into chaos.