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Trump talks QAnon and Biden talks pandemic at duelling town hall QandAs

Trump also defended recently retweeting a post that baselessly claimed that Biden and former president Barack Obama may have killed SEAL team 6, the elite unite that assassinated Osama bin Laden, to cover up a hoax where a body double was killed instead.

“I’ll put it out there. People can decide,” Trump said, a statement that stunned Guthrie.

“I don’t get that,” Guthrie said. “You’re the President. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall with moderator Savannah Guthrie

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall with moderator Savannah GuthrieCredit:AP

Biden and Trump were supposed to be participating in their second presidential debate but it was cancelled after Trump refused to appear virtually following his coronavirus diagnosis.

A final debate is scheduled for next Friday (AEST) in Nashville, Tennessee.

Trump declined to say when he last tested negative for coronavirus before his COVID-19 diagnosis a fortnight ago. He did not say whether he tested negative on the day of his debate with Biden as was required under the rules.

“I don’t know, I don’t even remember,” Trump said.

Asked by an audience member whether contracting the virus had changed his view on the importance of wearing a mask, Trump said no, citing a figure that many people who wear masks get COVID-19.

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“Wear the mask, I’m fine with it,” he said.

Refusing to accept that the US has one of the highest per capita coronavirus death rates in the world, Trump said: “We’re a winner. We have done an amazing job. And it’s rounding the corner. And we have the vaccines coming and we have the therapies coming.”

The US currently has the eighth highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the world, and while several vaccines are currently in third-stage trials, none have yet been proven safe and effective or are scheduled to be rolled out to the general public.

Trump did concede that he did owe approximately $US400 million ($565 million), as first reported by the New York Times, but argued that “it’s a tiny percentage of my net worth”.

“When you look at vast properties like I have, and they’re big and they’re beautiful and they’re well-located, when you look at that, the amount of money, $400 million, is a peanut, it’s extremely underlevered,” he said, meaning underleveraged, or having an excessively low debt burden.

Biden faced voters at a town hall event at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Centre, aired on ABC America.

The first 30 minutes covered the issues of coronavirus, the economy, and how a Biden presidency would assist the black community.

The first question came from Nicholas, a Democrat, who asked Biden what he would do to tackle the virus.

Biden said there should be a “national standard” on masks, and slammed Trump for missing the opportunity to safely open schools and businesses.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia.Credit:AP

Asked how he would contain the pandemic without crushing the economy, Biden said businesses and schools should simply be provided with the guidance that they needed to reopen.

“You have social distancing; you have plastic barriers. When you go to the cashier, you have separators between the booths.”

Asked whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court, Biden said he had not “been a fan” of court packing in the past, but that he was waiting to see how the confirmation process for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett turns out.

He suggested he would reveal his position on the issue before election day on November 3.

On foreign policy, Biden issued a rare compliment to Trump for his recent Middle East peace deal, but lashed the President for “embracing all the thugs in the world” and having no coherent foreign policy plan.

His comments came after audio emerged in which Republican Senator Ben Sasse accused the President of cosying up to dictators.

In a scathing critique to Nebraskan constituents during a telephone town hall, Sasse said the President “kisses dictators’ butts”, “ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now” and “regularly sells out our allies”.

Trump Biden 2020

Our weekly newsletter will deliver expert analysis of the race to the White House from our US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up for the Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Timeshere and WAtoday‘s here

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