The Mike Hosking Breakfast •

Richard Arnold: Early voting in US election as Trump and Biden face off

The Mike Hosking Breakfast

President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden will compete for TV audiences in duelling town halls on Thursday night instead of meeting face-to-face for their second debate as originally planned.
The two will take questions in different cities on different networks: Trump on NBC from Miami, Biden on ABC from Philadelphia. Trump backed out of plans for the presidential faceoff originally scheduled for the evening after debate organizers said it would be held virtually following Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.
The town halls offer a different format for the two candidates to present themselves to voters, after the two held a chaotic and combative first debate late last month. But Trump, speaking on Fox Business on Thursday morning, indicated he had no plans to change his tone going forward.
Trump said of the first debate that "some people said I was rude, but you have to be rude. The guy's a liar."
In case anyone remains unaware of Trump's tactics, Biden warned supporters at a virtual fundraiser that the president would go after him aggressively in the final weeks of the campaign.
"We've got 19 days left and you know he's going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at me," Biden said Thursday. "And it's going to be an overwhelming torrent of lies and distortions."
Biden's son, Hunter Biden, has come under scrutiny this week following a New York Post report outlining an email Hunter allegedly received from a Ukrainian businessman discussing a meeting with the elder Biden. Biden's campaign has said the meeting never happened, and experts have raised questions about the veracity of the email, but Trump has nevertheless seized on the news and has pushed falsehoods about Hunter Biden at each of his rallies this week.
During his rally, Trump went hard after Biden, repeating his campaign message that "Joe Biden is a corrupt politician."
Trump also preemptively attacked NBC before the town hall, declaring that at a previous event the network hosted "they asked him questions that a child could answer." He joked that he wished he could watch Biden's appearance Thursday night because "I wanna see if he can made it through the program."
As the pace of the campaign speeds up in its final weeks, the two candidates were first taking care of other electoral necessities Thursday: Trump appeared at his midday rally in battleground North Carolina, and Biden raised campaign cash at his virtual event.
Trump spent much of the rally downplaying the severity of the virus that's killed over 217,000 Americans, after largely recovering himself.
"It's going to peter out. It's going to end," he said of the pandemic — just as he had last winter — even as cases have continued to increase nationwide in recent weeks.
And he mentioned that his own son, Barron, "recovered so fast" from the virus to bolster his argument for why schools can and should fully reopen.
"We've learned about this disease. You've got to open up your businesses, open up your schools, get it going," he said.
Trump also took his most overt swipe yet at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, with whom Trump has publicly disagreed on the coronavirus. He said Fauci is a nice guy, "so I keep him around." But he also described Fauci, who has served in administrations of both parties, as a Democrat.
"Everybody knows that. He's Cuomo's friend," Trump says, a reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo," he said.
The president's appearance in North Carolina underscores the challenge confronting him in the final weeks of the election as multiple polls have shown Trump trailing Biden nationally and in many swing states. Trump has spent much of the week on defense, campaigning in states he won in 2016, like North Carolina and Iowa, where he campaigned Wednesday.
But despite the polling, Trump predicted a "big, beautiful red wave" on Election Night, before referencing another one of his major challenges: A cash disadvantage to the Biden campaign, which just announced rais...
Read more