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5 takeaways from the dueling Biden and Trump town halls

October 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

On ABC, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was explaining his plan to raise taxes on people making more than $400,000 per year. On NBC, President Donald Trump was equivocating about the existence of a satanic cult of pedophiles.

With the second presidential debate scrapped in the wake of Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, the two candidates instead agreed to nationally televised town halls, with Biden taking questions from voters in Philadelphia and Trump doing so in Miami.

No hour has better illustrated the alternate reality in which Trump exists than Thursday's 60-minute town hall.

A lawyer by training, Guthrie would not let up when Trump evaded questions about his coronavirus diagnosis, whether he was tested the day of the last debate, his stance on white supremacy, his views on QAnon or his view of mail-in voting.

Trump was conducting a town hall instead of a debate by choice; he pulled out of a second face-off with Biden when the Commission on Presidential Debates insisted it be virtual.

Trump appeared more moderated when answering questions from the town hall participants.

One clear window into Biden's tactics in a town-hall setting, with voters pressing him one-on-one, came when a young Black man recalled the former vice president's flip comment to radio host Charlamagne tha God that if someone was struggling to decide between supporting him and Trump, "you ain't black. "

It's the implicit contrast Biden has long sought to offer voters: Sobriety in the face of Trump's bombast, and a connection to the concerns of low- and middle-income Americans who he says have been ignored by Trump.

Trump campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp tweeted during Biden's town hall that watching it "feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood. " That was exactly the tone Biden was aiming for.

Pressed on an issue he has largely ducked since Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden said he is "not a fan" of court-packing, but whether he ultimately changes his mind "depends on how this turns out" and "if there's actually real, live debate on the floor" of the Senate about Barrett's confirmation.

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