How to Watch the Dueling Town Halls with Joe Biden and Donald Trump After Trump Balked at a Debate

Both events begin at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, with Biden speaking to voters on ABC and Trump appearing on NBC and its related cable channels

Joe Biden Donald Trump
Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock; Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

Both presidential candidates will appear on primetime television at the same time to take voters' questions Thursday night, though they'll do so on separate networks and more than a thousand miles apart.

The head-to-head events hosted by ABC and NBC will take place at 8 p.m. ET, in lieu of a second presidential debate — which was canceled last week by the Commission on Presidential Debates after President Donald Trump said he wouldn't participate in a virtual debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden following his hospitalization with the novel coronavirus.

After Trump balked at the debate, which had been intended as a town hall with voters, the Biden campaign soon announced its own town hall in conjunction with ABC News on Thursday night, taking place in Pennsylvania.

Biden, 77, will take voters' questions for an hour and a half, according to ABC.

Roughly a week after the ABC News announcement, NBC News announced — much to the dismay of many critics — that it would host Trump, 74, for its own simultaneous event in Miami at the exact same time.

The president's town hall with NBC will last an hour, the network says.

“Having dueling town halls is bad for democracy — voters should be able to watch both and I don’t think many will,” former Today show anchor Katie Couric tweeted. “This will be good for Trump because people like to watch his unpredictability. This is a bad decision.”

Meanwhile Cheryl Gould, a former executive vice president for NBC News, said she was “disgusted” by the network’s decision. “Is this what the new leadership at NBC thinks is the right thing to do? To be complicit in Trump’s tantrum? A shameless grab for ratings!”

(NBC said it had no choice but to be fair to Trump and give him a similar hour-long town hall as they gave Biden last week; the specific timing was the result of few available dates and not a desire to directly compete with Biden, NBC said.)

The incumbent Trump, 74, and his Democratic opponent Biden, 77, are still scheduled to appear in one final in-person debate on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee, before the election.

On Thursday, however, the candidates will take questions from undecided voters on their own.

first presidential debate
Former Vice President Joe Biden at Tuesday night's debate with President Donald Trump. JIM WATSON/Getty Images

How to Watch Biden's Town Hall on ABC

When Does It Start and How Long Does It Last?

8-9:30 p.m. ET

Where Will It Take Place?

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia

How to Watch

Outside of watching on television, ABC says the event will be available to watch on its ABC News Live streaming app. Major news networks, such as CNN, also say they'll provide live coverage of the event.

Who Will Moderate?

ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos

What to Watch for

ABC News says "no issue is off limits" and that some undecided voters appearing at the event want to hear from Biden on healthcare, the economy and race.

This will also be an opportunity for Biden to appear in front of voters without President Trump interrupting, as many thought might happen — again — at the second debate, following a first debate in which Trump repeatedly heckled and talked over Biden, who responded by calling him a "clown."

"I need to hear from one of these gentleman what their plan is to unite us as a nation," undecided voter Judy Fenerty told ABC.

first presidential debate
Donald Trump at the first presidential debate. Win McNamee/Getty Images

How to Watch Trump's Town Hall on NBC

When Does It Start and How Long Does It Last?

8-9 p.m. ET

Where Will It Take Place?

The Pérez Art Museum in Miami

How to Watch

Who Will Moderate?

Today anchor Savannah Guthrie

What to Watch for

NBC News says Guthrie will moderate questions from a group of Florida voters who will ask Trump about "critical issues" that will help determine their vote in the Nov. 3 election.

While the topics haven't been spelled out, Trump's recent hospitalization with the coronavirus disease COVID-19 has already proven a factor in the event. NBC says Guthrie will sit 12 feet from the president, as will the voters in attendance, who will also socially distance from each other.

Related Articles