US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who are chasing each other with rallies and events in key battleground states in the final weeks of campaigning, will hold duelling town hall events on Thursday when they were scheduled to meet for their second debate, which got cancelled.
The two events will be aired live at the same time, though from different locations. Both are being held in key battleground states: Trump will be in Miami, Florida for his town hall hosted by NBC News, according to a Wednesday announcement by the network, and Biden will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with ABC News.
Trump and Biden were scheduled to meet on Thursday for their second presidential debate, which was to be an in-person town hall but had been turned virtual after the president tested positive for Covid-19. It was cancelled eventually, after Trump pulled out saying he did not want to debate Biden on a computer.
The two nominees will take questions from members of the audience at their separate town halls, as they would have, but won’t have the chance, naturally, to attack each other in person.
Trump trails Biden by a wide margin in national polls (by 9.8 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls and by 10.5 points in the FiveThirtyEight average) and in battleground states.
With just three weeks to go for elections to close on November 3, the president is making his case with increasing desperation, seeking to reach voters beyond his base, whose solid support for him will not be enough.
“Suburban women, will you please like me?” Trump appealed to a key constituency at a rally Tuesday in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a state that is being called a “tipping point” in the 2020 race for the White House.
“I saved your damn neighbourhood, okay?” he added referring to an Obama-era anti-segregation rule he rescinded.
Biden, the Democratic nominee, was in Pembroke, Florida, where he sought to peel away older white American supporters of Trump. “You deserve respect and peace of mind, but you’re not getting it because to Donald Trump, you’re expendable. You’re forgettable. You’re ‘virtually nobody’.”
“That’s how he sees seniors. That’s how he sees you.”
Eight out of 10 Covid-19 deaths reported in the US have been in adults aged 65 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden has made Trump’s handling of Covid-19, that has killed more than 215,000 Americans and infected nearly 8 million, as the key election issue. On Tuesday, he made his case to the most vulnerable. Older white voters have been a key support block for Trump.