President Donald Trump will participate in a town hall with NBC News on Thursday night, setting up a competing television event with Joe Biden in lieu of a presidential debate in which voters would have seen both presidential candidates engage with each other and discuss issues head-to-head.
Biden is set to appear in an ABC town hall, and both events are scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. The two were originally scheduled to participate in a second debate, but the event was eventually canceled after Trump objected to the virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates in light of Trump’s positive coronavirus diagnosis.
“The event is set to take place outdoors and in accordance with the guidelines set forth by health officials, also consistent with all government regulations,” Hoda Kotb said on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday.
National Institutes of Health Clinical Director Clifford Lane said in a statement to NBC News that they have concluded, via PCR test analysis, “with a high degree of confidence” that Trump is “not shedding infectious virus.”
The event will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie, who will sit 12 feet from the President. Attendees will be required to wear face masks.
Trump’s decision last week to back out of the second debate led to Biden and ABC swiftly announcing their plans to hold a town hall, and shortly thereafter, Trump’s team entered talks with NBC about a similar event on the condition that Trump tested negative for coronavirus.
Trump is down in all national polls and either behind or tied with Biden in key swing states, and is in greater need of a national platform in which he can make his case to voters with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.