Trump campaign eyes its own town hall event in place of debate

Trump campaign eyes its own town hall event in place of debate
© Getty Images

The Trump campaign is eyeing its own town hall event on Thursday to compete with Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE after a previously scheduled debate for that night was scrapped.

Vice President Pence on Tuesday said such an event is in the works for the president, and the campaign is reportedly in talks with NBC about hosting.

No formal event has been announced, and there may be safety concerns given President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE's recent COVID-19 diagnosis and the number of cases among White House and campaign staff.


"The American people deserve to see both candidates square off, and the president's made it very clear that he was ready to debate this week," Pence told Julie Mason on SiriusXM.

"I think there's plans underway for us to have a similar public town hall event Thursday night. I think Joe Biden is doing the same, but how much better would it be if they were both on the stage, both taking the tough questions from people like you?" Pence added.

The Trump campaign and NBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment about plans for a town hall. Trump is set to hold a rally in North Carolina on Thursday afternoon, leaving open the possibility of a public forum event later that evening.

Biden, meanwhile, will take part in a town hall event of his own on Thursday night in lieu of the second presidential debate. ABC will host that event in Philadelphia.

The second debate was scheduled for Thursday night in Miami and was set to be a town hall format. But Trump balked at the decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates to go virtual for the event after the president and several aides contracted COVID-19.

"That’s not acceptable to us," Trump said of the virtual setup, calling it a waste of time.


The president and his allies insisted he would be well enough to debate in person, but the commission stood its ground, and the debate was ultimately canceled. The third and final debate between Trump and Biden is slated for Oct. 22. 

Trump can ill afford to skip the debate and cede millions of eyeballs to Biden on Thursday. The president is trailing in the polls and has just three weeks to plead his case in crucial swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.

The first presidential debate between Trump and Biden drew roughly 73 million viewers. Trump's town hall with ABC last month, by comparison, attracted nearly 4 million viewers.