Trump Vs. Biden: Final Leg of the Presidential Race

Key highlights from Trump and Biden’s town halls


Joslyn Varkey, Staff Writer

Trump and Biden’s separate town halls each covered a wide variety of subjects, each met with varying answers. During his town hall, Trump made sure to draw attention to his presidential accomplishments and praised the state of the nation. Biden drew attention to transgender rights, “there should be zero discrimination.” Trump almost outrightly admits he owes $400 million to creditors. Biden says he’ll publicly state his position on court packing before Election Day. The former Vice President also admits that, looking back, certain aspects of the 1994 crime bill were a ‘mistake’. Trump restated his claims that he will replace Obamacare and fails to explain how or when. The president also refused to disavow QAnon believers and rather supported them for fighting against pedophilia. Biden says he’ll take a coronavirus vaccine and says he supports a vaccine mandate. Both candidates race to persuade the American voter as Election Day draws closer. 


In his town hall, President Trump offers little to no new information to voters. He praised a far right conspiracy theory and admitted to severe financial problems. In direct contrast, former Vice President, Joe Biden, offers views on transgender rights and racial inequality. Biden also promised to publicly state his opinion on court packing before Election Day. He added that he is waiting to see how the republican bid to replace the late Justice Ginsburg plays out. Trump wants voters to vote for him “because we’ve done a great job.”

Trump goes on to say that “We’re coming around the corner” in reference to the current pandemic, despite many states having a new rise in cases. He added, “Vaccines are coming soon and our economy is strong.” A coronavirus vaccine has not yet been approved for public use and it is not clear when one will be released for public consumption. Biden directly attacked Trump for pandemic mishandling, “he missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true.” 


Over the course of an hour or so, Trump consistently evaded nearly every question posed to him on everything from Roe V. Wade to QAnon. He also declined to give any details about the “very major immigration bill” he has been promising for months. NBC moderator, Savannah Guthrie, pressed him on his Roe V. Wade stance, stating that most pro-life republicans want the case overturned and abortion banned. Trump refuses to give a clear stance on this and instead responds with, “I’m telling you I don’t want to do anything to influence anything right now.” Trump was not the only one to evade debate questions. During his town hall, Biden dodged a question on court-packing. “No matter what answer I gave you, if I say it, that’s the headline.” Biden wishes for the focus to remain on the senate republicans and their desperate attempt to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the election. Trump continuously highlighted his own accomplishments. “We’ve given you the greatest tax cut in the history of our country. We created new levels of jobs that nobody thought was possible. And next year is gonna be better than before”. 


Biden promised to change and eradicate laws that discriminate against transgender people, effectively reversing the Trump administration’s rollback on transgender rights. The former Vice President touched upon several LGBT issues while responding to a woman who has a transgender daughter. He said that “too many transgender women of color are being murdered.” Later he said, “there should be zero discrimination” in reference to discrimination based on sexuality or gender. Nearing the end of his response, Biden insensitively described a transgender person. He noted his late son, Beau Biden’s, effort to pass transgender protections. Biden said it was because of “a young man who became a woman.” That set aside, many activists and LGBT members are considering this response a victory and hailing Biden as a champion for LGBT rights. 


President Trump all but admits to owing $400 million to creditors while suggesting that some of his loans were “favors to institutions that wanted to loan me money.” Trump went on to claim that his debt was a result of dealing in real estate, despite the majority of his profits coming from payments for starring in “The Apprentice.” Guthrie asks Trump to clarify, “are you confirming that, yes, you do owe some $400 million?”

What I’m saying is that it’s a tiny percentage of my net worth. When you look at vast properties like I have, and they’re big and they’re beautiful and they’re well located, when you look at that, the amount of money, $400 million, is a peanut, it’s extremely under leveraged” he responds. He then adds, “and it’s leveraged with normal banks. Not a big deal.” Trump then goes on to claim he doesn’t have debt to Russia. “No, I don’t owe Russia money.” The President was then asked if he owes any money to foreign banks in any other country and he responds with “Not that I know of, but I will probably.” An investigation into Trump’s finances has discovered that they are under stress and he has losses and hundreds of millions of dollars debt that is soon due. He also has a decade-long battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the validity of a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed (and received) after declaring losses. A reverse ruling could end up costing him more than $100 million. Guthrie goes on to ask Trump about his tax returns which show he paid only $750 the year he was elected and the following year. “That’s a statutory number. I think it’s a filing number. You pay $750, it’s a filing fee.” 


Biden confirmed that he does not wish to bank fracking but would “stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil.” He then goes on to say, “we don’t need to subsidize oil any longer. We should stop that and save billions of dollars over time.” Trump and other republicans have falsely claimed numerous times that Biden wants to ban fracking. Biden disproved that in his town hall. He is being cautious with this issue with full knowledge of its connections to high paying union jobs, specifically in Pennsylvania, which is a key state in this year’s election. Biden is instead proposing the termination of new permits for fracking on federal land but is not proposing a national ban. Biden then says that he does not support the Green New Deal  (he incorrectly referred to it as the “new green deal”) and rejected the idea that it was the foundation for combating climate change, directly going against the words of his website.  “My deal is a crucial framework, but not the new green deal.” His website calls the Green New Deal a “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” Over the summer, the former Vice President went over a $2 trillion plan (over the course of four years) that supports clean energy, electric vehicles, and energy efficient homes. In addition, this plan also includes the elimination of emissions from the power sector by 2035. Biden is also listing combating climate change as an opportunity for job creation. 


Guthrie presses Trump on numerous issues including the QAnon conspiracy which he refused to denounce. “I just don’t know about QAnon” Trump says, to which Guthrie responds, “you do know” while pointing out to him that she had just explained to him what the group was. “I don’t know. You tell me all about it, let’s waste a whole show,” he responds. A little while later, Guthrie asks him to once again denounce white supremacy. Trump said, “I’ve denounced white supremacy for years but you always do it, you always start off with the question, you didn’t ask Joe Biden whether or not he denounces Antifa.” While Trump decides to attempt to evade all questions posed to him, Guthrie pins him to the spot with follow ups. “Did you take a test on the day of the debate,” she asks when questioning him about his coronavirus diagnosis. Trump responds to that with, “if you ask the doctors, they’ll give you a perfect answer.” Guthrie presses her question. “Did you take a test on the day of the debate, I guess is the bottom line”. Trump gives the following vague answer, “I probably did.” Later on in the town hall, Guthrie manages to get under Trump’s skin resulting in the following outburst, “why aren’t you asking Joe Biden questions about why he doesn’t condemn Antifa?”  “Because you’re here,” she responds bluntly. In a display of his typical misogyny, Trump fires back with “so cute” which he emphasizes with a condescending tone. This phrase in itself is unlikely to win him the votes of suburban women, the votes of whom he desperately needs. 


Biden vowed to publicly state his opinion on courting packing before Election Day. He stated that he was “not a fan” of it, but has not made his stance clear. George Stephanopoulos asked the former Vice President if he was open to increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court after the Amy Coney Barrett nomination hearings, Biden said, “I’m open to considering what happens from that point on.” The Democratic candidate then went on to say that voters deserved to know where he stood on the issue. “They do have a right to know where I stand, and they’ll have a right to know where I stand before they vote.” In the past, Biden has shown the concept of court packing a firm opposition but with the republicans rushing through Judge Barrett’s hearings and confirmation, it has not yet been entirely ruled out. Biden continued to support the 1994 crime bill but did admit that certain parts were not properly executed. Steohanopoulos asked the former Vice President if the legislature was a mistake to which he responded, “yes it was. But here’s where the mistake came. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.” Biden defended the crime bill saying racial issues were different then than they are now. “Things have changed drastically.” Biden made it clear that he did not support defunding police departments and is instead calling for additional training and an increase in social workers to hell officers de-escalate scenarios. 

A voter asked President Trump to detail his plan to reduce the price of health care. Trump said he wished to “reappeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but refused to give any details after that. Guthrie noted that republicans that already tried, and failed, to do precisely that in 2017. Trump responds with, “If you look , we had both houses and what did we do? We got rid of the individual mandate.” A main component of his campaign has been his promise to replace the act with something “better” but there have been no details released. During his town hall, the president made a series of false claims about voter fraud. He continues to present it as a huge threat with no evidence whatsoever that there is widespread fraud.  He claimed that “thousands of ballots” with his name on them had been disposed of illegally.

Trump then goes on to repeat a conspiracy theory that has already been debunked. “They spied on my campaign and they got caught, and they spied heavily on my campaign, and they tried to take down a duly elected sitting president.” Trump said he was willing to accept a peaceful transfer but only under certain circumstances. “And then they talk about, ‘Will you accept a peaceful transfer?’ And the answer is yes, I will. But I want it to be an honest election, and so does everybody else. When I see thousands of ballots dumbed in a garbage can and they happened to have my name on it, I’m not happy about that.” Again, there is no evidence whatsoever that “thousands of ballots” have been dumped into garbage cans. Guthrie then went on to point out to Trump that his very own FBI director had confirmed the rarity of voter fraud to which Trump had this response. “Oh really? Then he’s not doing a very good job.”

Joe Biden says he is willing to take the vaccine for coronavirus if one were to be made available  by the end of the year. He also said as president he would encourage governors to press American citizens to do so as well. “If the body of scientists say that this is what is ready to be done and it’s been tested, they’ve gone through the three phases, yes, I would take it, and I’d encourage people to take it”. Biden said that although he wished to make the vaccine mandatory, he recognized the limits of the White House’s power. “You couldn’t, that’s the problem. You can’t say, ‘everyone has to do this.’” However, Biden did say he would heavily advise governors, mayors, and city officials to remind the American public to take the vaccine and wear masks. 

With Election Day just a few weeks away, Joe Biden is leading in the polls with an 87 in 100 chances of winning while Trump has a meagre 12. In Pennsylvania, Biden has a five point lead over Trump while Iowa is split between the two candidates. Virginia has Biden at an eleven point lead and Florida, a key swing state, has Biden leading with four points. The next, and final, presidential debate is set for October 22nd. After that, both candidates will wrap up their campaigns and wait for the ballots to start being counted.