Donald Trump will do a town hall for NBC News on Thursday, after an agreement was reached between the network and his presidential campaign that included confirmation that the president was not a risk for COVID-19 transmission.
The event means that Trump and Joe Biden will each participate in separate town hall events on the same evening starting at the same time, after plans for a presidential debate with a similar format were scrapped.
Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie will moderate the event, at 8 PM ET, from Miami. Biden will participate in a dueling town hall with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, a 90-minute event also starting at 8 PM ET. That potentially diminishes the audience for each.
The network and the campaign had been negotiating for the event since last week. A sticking point had been a set of COVID-19 safety protocols, as NBC News sought evidence of Trump’s testing and medical condition before moving forward. That had been a sticking point right up until later on Tuesday.
Today‘s Craig Melvin said that the network had been given a statement from Dr. Clifford Lane of the National Institutes of Health indicating that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci went through the president’s recent medical data, including a PCR test collected and analyzed by the NIH on Oct. 13, concluding “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is “not shedding infectious virus.” Guthrie and Trump will be at least 12 feet apart, and the audience also will be socially distanced and required to wear face masks.
NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander noted that this was the first time they had received independent confirmation that the president was “no longer a risk to spread the virus.”
Last week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the planned second debate, a town hall format that was to feature moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN, would be a virtual event, with both candidates appearing remotely. Trump objected to that approach, insisting that the event be in person. Biden’s campaign indicated that he would attend, but then scheduled the ABC News town hall. The commission then scrapped the event.
The NBC News town hall also will air on MSNBC, CNBC, NBC News Now and Telemundo’s digital platforms.
Trump and Biden are still scheduled to participate in a presidential debate on Oct. 22, with NBC News’ Kristen Welker as moderator.
Biden participated in an NBC News town hall on Oct. 5, and Trump did an ABC News town hall on Sept. 15.
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