The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will both discuss key issues with voters on Thursday night — just not in the same room.
In lieu of a second presidential debate, originally scheduled for that night, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will now each participate in individual town hall events more than a thousand miles away from one another.
The Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the second scheduled debate after both Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, campaigns engaged in a public spat over whether the event should take place in-person or virtually following the president's coronavirus diagnosis.
The disagreement came after Trump’s three-day hospitalization with COVID-19, which then led to the debate format's changing to virtual before the president ultimately said he wouldn't participate.
Following the cancellation, Biden's campaign then said last week the former vice president would participate in an ABC News town hall event on Thursday night.
ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos will host the Biden town hall, where the Democratic nominee is scheduled to answer voters’ questions, the network announced.
NBC News then announced on Wednesday morning that Trump, 74, would participate in his own town hall on their network the same night, setting up a unique, head-to-head ratings battle between the two campaigns — something seemingly catering to the president, who often obsesses over ratings.
Biden’s ABC town hall will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Trump’s NBC town hall — moderated by Savannah Guthrie — will be in Miami, Florida. Both events begin at 8 p.m. EST.
NBC said it received a statement clearing Trump for the event, from Dr. Clifford Lane, the clinical director at the National Institutes of Health.
Lane said in his note that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and the NIH director, had reviewed Trump’s medical status and determined "with a high degree of confidence" that Trump was "not shedding infectious virus."
Trump’s medical condition has been up in the air over the last two weeks, as the White House stayed mum about whether the president was still infected with COVID-19 and contagious while he began returning to in-person campaign events last weekend.
Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Monday that the president had tested negative for the virus. The president returned to the campaign trail this week, with rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.
To be safe, NBC said Trump and town hall host Guthrie will sit 12-feet apart from each other and the audience.
“The audience will also be socially distanced and required to wear masks, answer a symptoms questionnaire and take a temperature check before entering the outdoor venue,” NBC reported.
The two candidates are scheduled to meet for a final presidential debate next Thursday, Oct. 22, in Nashville, Tennessee.
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