US election: Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden in a TV grilling
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden fielded questions from the public in televised town halls on Thursday night.
Both candidates were in different places, but broadcast at the same time, Trump was in Miami and Biden in Philadelphia.
The second presidential debate was originally scheduled for Thursday evening but then canceled due to Trump’s rejection of doing a virtual debate.
Opinion polls indicate Mr. Biden has a solid lead over Mr. Trump.
However, polling is still very close in several key states which could decide the election.
More than 18 million people have already voted in person or by post for the 3 November vote.
The town hall marked the first time Trump engaged in a debate of some kind since contracting COVID-19 on October 2. Trump’s battle with the virus was centerstage of his town hall, along with his administration’s handling of the pandemic.
What were the key moments for Trump?
Trump defended his response to the coronavirus outbreak and took a dig at Biden for staying away from the campaign trail in the initial stages of the pandemic.
“Hey, I am president — I have to see people, I can’t be in the basement,” said Trump.
On the other side, the president said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost next month’s election, even as he expressed fears for the integrity of the vote. Federal election officials say there has been no evidence of widespread ballot fraud.
“And then they talk, ‘will you accept a peaceful transfer,'” Mr. Trump said. “And the answer is, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I want it to be an honest election, and so does everybody else.”
Mr. Trump deflected other questions about healthcare and tax returns and whether he took a coronavirus test on the day of his last debate with Mr. Biden, saying: “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.”
And for Biden?
Biden was questioned on his views on fracking — an issue for which he and his vice-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris are consistently targeted by Trump.
Biden said that he would “stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil,” but not ban fracking.
He was also asked whether he supported court-packing, which would entail adding seats to the US Supreme Court and appointing justices to influence the ideological balance of its rulings.
The former vice-president, who served under Barack Obama, gave a conflicting answer at first saying: “I have not been a fan of court-packing. I’m not a fan.”
But then moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Biden whether he would be open to expanding the number of justices if Republicans confirmed Mr. Trump’s current nominee for an existing vacancy on the nine-seat Supreme Court.
“I’m open to considering what happens from that point on,” he said, though he declined to reveal his stance on the issue.
“Depending on how they handle this,” he added.