Column: Comparing Trump and Biden’s dueling town halls

Lindsey Ulrey

Trump and Biden spoke at two dueling town halls this week. The Biden town hall reached 14.1 million viewers on ABC between 8 and 9 p.m. and Trump had 13.5 million combined on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. The town halls were scheduled at the same time, and this has caused some bad press for NBC News.

According to USA Today, “NBC News faced a sharp backlash to its decision to host President Donald Trump for a town hall Thursday in direct competition with ABC’s event with Democrat Joe Biden, including a social media call to boycott the network.” Biden and Harris’ thoughts about the unfortunate scheduling are unclear.

During an interview with MSNBC’s biggest star, Rachel Maddow, Harris was asked if she was as mad as everyone else about the town halls being scheduled at the same time. Her response was, “I’m not touching that.”

Trump’s town hall was a bit of a disaster. In the presidential debate, Trump claimed that he didn’t know much about the Proud Boys, a violent, far-right extremist group, but he told them to “stand back and stand by,” which they saw as an endorsement. In Trump’s town hall, he claimed that he did not know much about QAnon, a baseless internet conspiracy theory whose followers believe that dozens of Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires run the world.

“I know nothing about QAnon,” Trump said. “I do know that they are very much against pedophilia, and I agree with that.” Overall, Trump took quite a different approach in his town hall than he has in past opportunities to speak to the public.

He barely even spoke of his opponent Joe Biden. It was a breath of fresh air to hear Trump speak more of policy and less of his opponent.

In Biden’s town hall, he acknowledged his mistakes concerning the 1994 Crime Bill. He also spoke about his thoughts on adding more seats to the Supreme Court. Biden said that he is “not a fan” of “court packing” because it could lead to a tit-for-tat escalation. “I’m open to considering what happens from that point on,” Biden said. Biden’s weaknesses were clear to see during his town hall. Biden is a stark contrast to Trump, and this can often make him look weak or impassionate.

He also does not have a strong flowing of younger voters. This could pose a problem for him. For a guaranteed win, Biden needs to gain the interest of young voters before time runs out.


Lindsey Ulrey is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]