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Trump and Biden town halls: highlights and analysis

The events were planned after Trump pulled out of Thursday's scheduled presidential debate.

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden held separate town halls Thursday night after Trump pulled out of the night's scheduled presidential debate last week.

Trump's event, held in Miami, aired on NBC with host Savannah Guthrie from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. ABC aired Biden's event, hosted by George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia, from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET. Both segments were town hall-style, meaning the candidates took questions directly from voters.

Trump backed out of the second presidential debate scheduled for Thursday after organizers announced that it was going to be conducted virtually because of his recent Covid-19 diagnosis. The final presidential debate is scheduled for next Thursday, Oct. 22.

Read the latest updates below:

Biden questioned on if he would take a vaccine approved under Trump

An undecided voter in this election, who voted for President Trump in 2016, asked Joe Biden about his running mate’s comments on taking a vaccine approved under the president. 

Sen. Kamala Harris said during the vice presidential debate last week that if Trump announces a Covid-19 vaccine she wouldn’t take. 

Biden walked a tight line answering the question because Harris was criticized for undermining public health by making the remark. Biden continued to say he would trust doctors and public health experts, but noted that the president has made outrageous comments related to the virus and has also sowed seeds of doubt about treating it.

Biden fact check: Did Trump say people could inject bleach to fight Covid?

Biden on Thursday said at the ABC town hall, "President Trump says things like, everything from ‘that's crazy stuff,’ then he walks away and says inject bleach in your arm and that's gonna work."

That comment is inference to Trump's suggestions that people should inject bleach in their arm to effectively fight off Covid-19.

Trump did indeed speculate that an injection of disinfectants like bleach could have a curative effect. 

"And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump said during a news conference at the White House in April, after a briefing from a Homeland Security official who described the ability of disinfectants like bleach to kill the coronavirus on surfaces. 

"Because, you see, it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it'd be interesting to check that. So that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds — it sounds interesting to me."

Trump clashes with Guthrie after question about white supremacy

Trump came under fire in the last debate after he failed to denounce white supremacists and the Proud Boys.

“I denounced white supremacy for years,” Trump claimed, complaining that Guthrie and other people in the media keep bringing up the topic.

But Trump repeatedly dodged attempts to get him to condemn these groups that have expressed support for him, despite being given multiple opportunities to do so.

Fact check: Trump wrongly characterizes CDC study on mask wearing

Trump wrongly characterized a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study when he claimed that "they came out with a statement that 85 percent of people who wear masks catch" the coronavirus.

That is an inaccurate read of a Sept. 10 CDC report — the study found that people who contracted Covid-19 are more likely to have eaten in a restaurant. The lead researcher says the research is actually “mask neutral” and that the data was based on self-reports and not designed to argue for or against mask wearing.

The CDC tweeted on Wednesday that “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”

All the available evidence suggests that masks help slow the transmission of the coronavirus. A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs showed that Covid-19 transmission slowed after states implemented mask requirements. Scientists believe this is because masks reduce the amount of respiratory droplets spread by the wearer. 

While some masks appear ineffective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus (like very thin masks or masks with valves), the concept of masks is not up for debate. Trump has been criticized for not aggressively promoting the use of masks, and for refusing to appear in public wearing one until months into the pandemic. 

Trump ignores question about herd immunity, attacks Whitmer

When asked whether he supported herd immunity, Trump responded: “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.” 

Trump then launched into attacks against Democratic governors who implemented stay-at-home orders and closed businesses, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was recently the victim of a foiled kidnap plot. She has blamed Trump for being "complicit" in the vitriol against her.

'Nothing': Biden's account tweets on what Trump's doing to combat virus

Audio issues at NBC News town hall

Trump’s audio is echoing through his microphone. 

The outdoor stage setup carries sound differently than an indoor stage. 

Trump begins town hall with questions about his Covid diagnosis

Savannah Guthrie kicked off Trump's event by asking about his Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment. She also asked whether or not he got tested before the first presidential debate.

Trump said he was unsure whether or not he got tested for the coronavirus the day of the presidential debate, as was required by the debate commission. “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t,” Trump said, adding that he gets “tested all the time.” 

Trump said that he “didn’t feel good” or “strong” when he had the virus but he again refused to say whether or not he had pneumonia. His doctors have not answered questions about whether or not his lung scans showed signs of pneumonia. 

“They said the lungs are perhaps a little bit different, a little bit infected,” Trump responded. 

Biden town hall kicks off with first focus on Covid-19

The ABC town hall with Biden has kicked-off in Pennsylvania. The second presidential debate was supposed to take place tonight, but since President Trump contracted Covid-19, the debate commission moved to a virtual debate, in which Trump refused to participate. 

The first question was on Covid-19, with a voter asking how a Biden he would handle the pandemic compared to Trump, who has been criticized for his administration’s response. 

Biden excoriated Trump for how he has communicated to the American people and a national, coordinated public health response and a nationwide standard to slow the spread. 

George Stephanopoulos, who recovered from Covid-19 earlier this year, is moderating the town hall.  

Biden leading in polls in Pennsylvania heading into tonight’s town hall

Biden’s town hall, hosted by ABC, is taking place in Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state and the birthplace of the former vice president. 

Biden is at 51 percent while President Trump is at 44 percent among likely voters, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. Trump is participating in a competing town hall airing on NBC tonight in Florida, another vital state to win the election. 

Both candidates have campaigned heavily in the state.

Trump town hall will take place in one of the most competitive states

Trump takes the stage in Florida tonight trailing slightly behind Biden in recent state polls, but Florida is proving to be one of the most competitive battleground states.

Most polling averages show Biden roughly 4 percentage points ahead of Trump in the state, which is within the margin of error of some polls. 

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed Biden with 49 percent of likely voters compared to Trump’s 47 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points. 

With 29 Electoral College votes, Florida is one of the most critical swing states. Trump carried it by roughly 1 percentage point in 2016.