PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made their cases to voters in separate town hall-style events Thursday night, just days after a virtual debate scheduled for the same date was scrapped.
Although organizers initially had planned for both candidates to appear in person for a debate Thursday, Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis prompted the Commission on Presidential Debates last week to switch the format to virtual, according to The Associated Press. Trump, however, opposed the change and announced he wouldn’t take part.
Biden later agreed to appear in an ABC News-hosted town hall event in Philadelphia, while Trump opted for a separate town hall hosted by NBC News in Miami, the AP reported.
Here are five memorable moments from Biden’s town hall, moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:
1. Biden says he’ll have formal position on ‘court packing’ before Election Day.
When Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he would support expanding the Supreme Court if elected, the former vice president said he will reveal his position after seeing how the Senate handles confirmation hearings for nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
“It depends on how much they rush this,” Biden said of Senate Republicans.
“But don’t voters have a right to know where you stand?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“They do have a right to know where I stand, and they have a right to know where I stand before they vote,” Biden replied.
“So you will come out with a clear position before Election Day?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes, depending on how they handle this,” Biden responded.
2. Biden say he would consider coronavirus vaccine mandate.
Voter Amy Leigh of Philadelphia asked Biden whether he’d take a coronavirus vaccine and, if elected president, mandate that others take it.
“If the body of science is saying that this is what is ready to be done, it’s been tested and they’ve gone through the three phases, yes, I would take it, and I’d encourage people to take it,” Biden replied.
“And once we get it, if it is safe, if it is effective, will you mandate its use?” Stephanopoulos later asked.
“I would think that we should be talking about – depending on the continuation of the spread of the virus – we should be thinking about making it mandatory,” Biden said.
3. Biden weighs in on 1994 crime bill.
When asked to weigh in on his support of the 1994 crime bill, which critics said led to mass incarceration of minorities, Biden conceded that the legislation had flaws.
“Was it a mistake to support it?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes, it was,” Biden said. “But here’s where the mistake came. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally. What we did federally, we said – you remember, George – it was all about the same time for the same crime.”
Biden also said the country has changed “drastically” in the 26 years since the bill was written.
“That crime bill, when it voted, the Black Caucus voted for it; every Black mayor supported it across the board,” he said.
4. Biden vows to change laws that discriminate against LGBTQ community.
While responding to question from the mother of a transgender girl, Biden pledged he would work to ensure protections for the LGBTQ community.
“The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening nondiscrimination protections and even removing the word ‘transgender’ from some government websites,” the woman, Mieke Haeck of State College, Pennsylvania, began. “How will you as president reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and insure that ht elives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?”
“I will flat-out just change the law,” Biden replied. “Eliminate those executive orders, No. 1.”
Biden later added: “There should be zero discrimination.”
5. Biden discusses positions on fracking, renewable energy.
In response to a question about fracking, Biden said he does not want to ban the practice, just insure that it is “managed very, very well.”
“I do not propose banning fracking,” he said. “I think you have to make sure the fracking is, in fat, not admitting methane or polluting the well or dealing with what can be small earthquakes and how they’re drilling.”
He went on to say that he would “stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil,” stressing that “the future rests in renewable energy.”