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Trump, Biden to hold rival TV town halls instead of debate

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(FILES)(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden squaring off during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. – Former US vice president Joe Biden has opened up a 16-point national lead over President Donald Trump less than a month before the November 3 presidential election, according to a CNN poll published on October 6, 2020. The Democratic presidential candidate leads the Republican incumbent by 57 percent to 41 percent among likely voters, according to the nationwide CNN poll conducted by SSRS. (Photos by JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP)

President Donald Trump will feature in a televised town hall Thursday on NBC News, the network said, setting up a direct scheduling clash with rival Joe Biden who had already planned his own version.

The two were originally meant to have been meeting for their second debate on Thursday evening. Instead, they will be simultaneously, but separately, talking to voters in TV studios — NBC for Trump and ABC for Biden.

Trump will be in Miami, the network said, while Biden, who had already booked his appearance last week, will be in Philadelphia.

Their scheduled debate had also been designed as a town hall where the two candidates would have fielded questions from voters, but this was upended after Trump contracted the coronavirus.

Debate organizers said they wanted to switch the format to a virtual appearance, for safety reasons, and Trump refused, forcing the cancellation of the event.

NBC News said Wednesday it had received a statement from the clinical director at the National Institutes of Health and lead infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci that they had “a high degree of confidence” that Trump is now “not shedding infectious virus.”

Trump and the NBC host will be socially distanced at the outdoor venue and the audience will wear safety masks, NBC said.

Biden has been frequently testing for coronavirus and reporting negative results since Trump’s illness.


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