The presidential candidates' divorce into separate town halls gave Biden the opportunity to speak on his policies without interruption during his Oct. 15 ABC News town hall.
From a studio in Philadelphia, he fielded questions from voters about his plans for COVID-19, tax reform, and growing the economy, speaking in a calm and soporific manner that drew comparisons to Mr. Rogers.
Biden began by outlining President Trump’s mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic. He emphasized how Trump repeatedly downplayed the gravity of the virus.
“He kept saying things that weren’t true. It’s going to go away by easter. Don’t worry about it,” Biden said of Trump’s overly optimistic projections. “He’s still saying those things.”
Several channels over, in Trump’s coincident town hall, the president touted the nearness of a vaccine, the true timeline of which scientists say is still up in the air.
With Biden’s tax plan left unclear after the vice presidential debate, Biden used this opportunity to settle the issue. He pulled out a card which contained the details of Trump’s tax cuts: $1.3 trillion out of $2 trillion directed to the top 1/10th of America’s 1%.
“That’s what I’m talking about eliminating,” Biden clarified. “Not all the tax cuts that are out there.”
Another key moment came in Biden’s address to Black voters. When asked why he deserved the support of Black Americans, he responded with a list of policies that some criticized as substantive yet incoherent. He bounced from mental illness to school psychologists to cybersecurity.
“We learned that, for example, drug abuse doesn’t cause mental illness, mental illness causes drug abuse. A failure to get hold of people and deal with their anxieties.”
Biden’s past appeals to the demographic have sometimes been rocky, with his “you ain’t Black!” comment directed toward undecided Black voters garnering wide criticism.
Biden’s answer on race ultimately coalesced on plans to combat wealth disparity. “It’s about accumulating wealth,” Biden said. “The vast majority of people of color are behind an eight ball.”
Whereas Biden seemed intent on avoiding spectacle, Trump remained combative in his own town hall, with his campaign even tweeting out that he “soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate.”
Biden’s tone remained characteristically non-divisive throughout the event, to the point that few of his answers may be reduced to sound-bites.
“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m going to be an American President,” he said. “I’m going to take care of those who voted against me as well as those who voted for me. That’s what Presidents do.”