Trump, meanwhile, was on the defensive and insisted the nation was turning the corner on the virus, even as his own battle with the disease took center stage.
Trump, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, dodged by responding directly if he had taken a test on the day of the debate on September 29, saying only, “Maybe I did. , maybe I didn’t ”. The rules of the debate required every candidate, using the honor system, to test negative before the Cleveland event, but Trump circled around when asked when he last tested negative.
It was his positive test two days later that created Thursday’s bizarre spectacle, which deprived most viewers of a simultaneous glance at the candidates just 19 days before election day. The timing seemed right for a race like no other, as another campaign ritual has been changed by the pandemic which has rewritten society’s standards.
Presidential rivals have asked questions in different cities on different broadcast networks: Trump on NBC in Miami, Biden on ABC in Philadelphia. Trump has backed down from plans for the presidential showdown originally scheduled for the evening after debate organizers said it would be held virtually after Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19.
Town halls have come up with a different format for the two candidates to present themselves to voters, after the two held a chaotic and combative first debate late last month.
The difference in tone of the men was immediate and striking.
Trump was Trump. He was loud and argumentative, fighting with the host, Savannah Guthrie, refusing to categorically condemn the QAnon conspiracy group, testamentally stating that he would speak out against white supremacy, but complaining about the questioning – and ending up saying for the first time he would honor the results. fair election, but only after casting extraordinary doubt on the likelihood of it being fair.
“And then they talk, ‘Will you agree to a peaceful transfer,'” Trump said. “And the answer is, ‘Yes, I will’. But I want it to be an honest election, just like everyone else.
Biden, meanwhile, took a much different and gentler approach to audience questions. The former vice president, who had a hard time stuttering, stuttered slightly at the start of the show and at one point closed his eyes and slowed down his response to make his words clear. Sometimes his answers buzzed.
Dressed in a blue suit and holding a white cloth mask in one hand, the Democratic candidate also brought a small notecard on stage and referred to it while promising to roll back tax cuts for Americans the most rich.
He said it would save “let me see … $ 92 billion”.
The two are still expected to occupy the same space for a debate for a second and final time next week in Nashville. But the cancellation of Thursday’s debate still impacted both campaigns.
Trump and Biden clashed Sept. 29 in Cleveland in an event defined both by the president’s constant harassment of his opponent, which has lowered his support, and by his place on the calendar: just two days before Trump announces that he has been tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump was hospitalized for three days, and while convalescing in the White House, the debate committee decided to make their second debate a remote – which the president immediately rejected.
Earlier Thursday, Trump attended a rally in North Carolina, highlighting the challenge he has faced in recent weeks, as multiple polls show him behind Biden nationally and in many swing states. Trump has spent much of the week on defense, campaigning in states he won in 2016, such as North Carolina and Iowa, where he campaigned on Wednesday.
But despite the polls, Trump predicted a “big, beautiful red wave” on election night, before referring to another of his main challenges: a cash disadvantage for the Biden campaign, which just announced it was raising a record $ 383 million in September.