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Donald Trump to host town hall at same time as Joe Biden

With the second presidential debate cancelled due to Trump not pleased with the format, he will now take part in an NBC town hall in Miami, just as his rival does his.

(FILES)(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows former US Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden(L) speaking about Covid-19, during a press event in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020, and US

There are less that 20 days until the US presidential election 2020 and on Wednesday it was confirmed that current Oval Office incumbent, President Donald Trump, would take part in a town hall event in Miami on Thursday. It just so happens that his Democratic rival for the White House, Joe Biden, had already planned his own town hall, in Philadelphia, at the same time on the same day, immediately after Trump had pulled out of their scheduled second presidential debate.

Trump tactics to steal attention from poll leader Biden

Wednesday will see President Trump in Iowa for another rally, as he attempts to make up for lost time on the campaign trail during his recent bout of coronavirus. But as he races against the clock, which keeps on ticking, Americans are casting ballots early at a record pace. Close to 12 million people have already voted, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Long lines in Texas and Georgia snaked out of polling places and down sidewalks on Tuesday as people rushed to vote. Early voting starts in three more states on Wednesday - Kansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Trump, a Republican who trails Democrat Joe Biden in national and some key state opinion polls ahead of the 3 November election, will stage an evening rally at the airport in Des Moines, Iowa. Biden has no public campaign events scheduled after stumping in Florida on Tuesday.

After making his usual noise in Iowa - with health chiefs continuing with their message of social distancing and mask wearing - Trump will then turn his attention to the Miami town hall, which will be hosted by NBC News at 8pm ET, something that some voters have called poor tactics with Biden's ABC News equivalent starting then too. They confirmed that the event would be held outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum and would follow guidelines on preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Why wasn’t that a viable solution for the second debate?

POTUS’ post-covid campaigning

Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday night in Florida for the first time since disclosing he had the coronavirus. The rally came hours after the White House said Trump had tested negative for covid-19 on consecutive days and was not infectious to others.

That Trump is traveling to Iowa so close to Election Day is a worrisome sign for his re-election hopes. He beat Democrat Hillary Clinton there by almost 10 percentage points in 2016, but recent polls have shown the state to be competitive.

Trump looks to be spending much of the week trying to galvanise his white, conservative base rather than trying to appeal directly to undecided voters, many of whom live in the nation’s suburbs. On Thursday, he heads to Greenville in rural North Carolina, a closely fought state where early voting will begin that day, then on to rural Georgia and central Florida the day after.

Reuters/Ipsos polling released this week showed Biden widening his lead in the key states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – states Trump won in 2016.

Iowa is also seeing a major spike in covid-19 cases, with hospitalisations at an all-time high in the state. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has resisted implementing statewide containment measures such as a mandate to wear masks. This week, she urged Trump supporters on social media to come out en masse to see the president.

Coronavirus management

But Trump's illness has put the focus of the campaign's closing stretch squarely on his response to the coronavirus, with Biden repeatedly criticising Trump's handling of the pandemic, which has infected more than 7.8 million people in the United States, killed more than 214,000 and put millions out of work.

On Tuesday in Florida, Biden told a group of seniors at a community centre that Trump had recklessly dismissed the threat that the virus had posed to their at-risk population.

"To Donald Trump, you’re expendable. You’re forgettable," Biden said. Trump has continue to promote his handling of the crisis, however, despite having little evidence to back it up, and lots contradicting him.

Residents of The Villages in Florida take part in a golf cart parade, to celebrate the nomination of Joe Biden for Democratic presidential candidate and Kamala Harris for vice president.
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Residents of The Villages in Florida take part in a golf cart parade, to celebrate the nomination of Joe Biden for Democratic presidential candidate and Kamala Harris for vice president.CHANDAN KHANNAAFP

The Trump campaign said it would conduct temperature checks and hand out masks at his rallies but not require attendees to wear them. At his airport rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, some of Trump's supporters in the front rows wore red-and-blue masks sporting the president's "MAGA" slogan, but many other attendees wore no masks at all.

A nonprofit farm policy advocacy group, Rural America 2020, took out a digital billboard across from the Des Moines airport warning that the Trump rally would be a "COVID superspreaderevent."

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