Biden Town Hall: Clarification and compromise

Statesman breaks down topics covered at Biden’s Town Hall, including Biden’s past, his plans for the country’s problems, and his views on the current administration


On Thursday, October 15, former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden fielded questions from voters in a televised town hall discussion. The town hall, which was originally supposed to be a debate with President Donald Trump until Trump contracted the coronavirus, was held in the swing state Pennsylvania. The town hall offered Biden an opportunity to clarify his positions and speak directly to voters.

The town hall, which ran on ABC, ran concurrently with Trump’s town hall on NBC. Biden’s town hall “was much less eventful, offering a striking contrast to Trump,” The Guardian reported. Moderator George Stephanopoulos often pressed Biden on issues, repeating voters’ questions.

Throughout the meeting, multiple topics were discussed, including foreign policy, taxes, COVID-19 response, climate change, racial injustices, LGBTQ+ rights, and the Supreme Court.

Here are a couple of crucial topics:


COVID-19 Response

Biden has frequently disagreed with the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, Trump said multiple times that the virus was “under control,” even saying, “it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” More than 218,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 as of October 15.

Biden answered a question about Trump’s response and whether he would accept a vaccine if produced under the Trump administration. While Biden did not say that he would impose a national lockdown, he suggested that Trump’s methods were not enough and called into question the administration’s motives.

“He didn’t talk about what needed to be done because he kept worrying, in my view, about the stock market,” Biden said. “He worried if he talked about how bad this could be, unless we took these precautionary actions, then, in fact, the market would go down.”

Biden also said that as long as a vaccine had been approved by scientists and gone through all 3 phases, then he would take it, and while acknowledged there was no way to mandate it as president, Biden “would encourage people to take it.”


Climate Change

Trump has focused on the economic impacts of climate change regulations while in the presidency, repealing Obama’s regulations and pulling the country out of the Paris Climate Accord. Trump has also repeatedly stated that Biden wants to ban fracking, an argument that Biden pushes back on. 

During the town hall, Biden said again that he does not intend to ban fracking and stated that he thought the Green New Deal, which he has been accused of supporting, is not feasible. Biden reinstated his commitment to making the country more eco-friendly.

“I, as president, am going to invest that $600 billion we spend on government contracts only on those things that, in fact, also are not only made in America, but building an infrastructure that’s clean and new,” Biden said. “You’re going to need to be able to transition to get to a place where we get to net-zero emissions.”



During the town hall meeting, Biden fielded questions about race and equity, a couple of them highlighting his past. Recently, in an interview, when asked about undecided voters, he said, “You ain’t Black [if you didn’t support him],”  for which he has since apologized.

This incident was brought up in a question by an undecided Black voter, who asked why young Black people should vote for Biden. Biden responded with several policies, including funding preschools, making sure schools have access to social workers and psychologists, and increasing funding for low-income schools.

“Every single solitary generation, the dial has moved closer and closer to inclusion,” Biden said. “We are a country of slaves who came here 400 years ago, Indigenous people, and everyone else is an immigrant.”

A voter questioned Biden for his support and co-authoring of a 1994 crime bill that critics say contributed to mass incarceration. He admitted that supporting the bill was “a mistake,” but also stated that the bill was popular at the time.

“That crime bill when we voted, the Black Caucus voted for it, every Black mayor supported it across the board,” he said.


Supreme Court

Recently, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, leaving an opening on the Supreme Court. Currently, Republicans are attempting to push through Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to replace Ginsburg. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, most Americans want the election to determine who picks the next justice. More than 17 million people have already voted.

Biden has yet to say whether he would pack the Supreme Court as president. The idea was brought up several times during the debates, but neither Biden nor his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, have fully stated their positions on the topic.

“It depends on how this turns out,” Biden said, in likely reference to Barrett’s nomination and possible appointment and added that he was “not a fan” of court-packing, which would add more justices to the Supreme Court. He said that he would have a clear answer before Election Day.

With the possibility of Barrett being appointed to the Supreme Court, concerns over the future of more liberal acts have come up among voters, including abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act, and LGBTQ+ rights. Barrett, a conservative justice, has signed letters supporting anti-choice values and belongs to a conservative religious group, the People of Praise. During her hearings, she has not answered specific questions about her beliefs.


LGBTQ+ Rights

Since some are concerned that Barrett’s potential appointment will remove LGBTQ+ people’s rights, a topic was brought up during the town hall: a voter asked what Biden would say to people who are worried.

“I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community,” Biden said. He also expressed concern for the future of healthcare due to the nomination.

During the Trump administration, many protections for transgender people were reversed. A voter with a transgender daughter asked Biden his stance on the Trump reversals and what he would do for transgender rights if elected.

“I will flat-out just change the law,” Biden said. “There is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied to your daughter.”



Biden has been accused of wanting to repeal the Trump tax cuts. During the town hall, a Republican voter asked Biden whether he would repeal the taxes, and what his tax plan.

“When I said the Trump tax cuts, about $1.3 trillion of the $2 trillion in his tax cuts went to the top one-tenth of 1%,” Biden said. “That’s what I’m talking about eliminating.”

Biden also critiqued the Trump administration’s tax plan. He claimed that the tax cuts did not help the middle and lower classes. Recently, Biden announced that anyone making less than $400,000 would not have their taxes raised under his plan.

“If you’re at the bottom, or you’re in the middle or the bottom, your income is coming down,” Biden said. “It’s a K-shaped recovery.” He explained that under Trump’s plan, those in the middle and lower classes, represented by the lower section of the “K,” were not affected or negatively affected. The upper classes, defined by the upper section of the “K,” were positively affected.


Foreign Policy

During the town hall, Biden was asked by a voter whether he believed Trump’s foreign policy deserved commendation. Though he first acknowledged the policy deserved a “little bit” of praise, Biden mainly condemned the Trump administration’s policy.

“We find ourselves in a position where we’re more isolated in the world than we ever have been,” Biden said. “We find ourselves where our NATO allies are publicly saying they can’t count on us.”

The next debate set for October 22, provided both candidates agree to a set of rules. If Trump tests negative for COVID-19, then it will be over 14 days since he tested positive. During the town hall, Biden said that it was “just decency” to be tested for COVID to protect the workers at the debates.Currently, Biden is leading Trump in the polls: 54% to 43%, according to an NPR/Marist/PBS NewsHour poll. With the election 18 days away and 17 million ballots cast, the last few days will be a race to win over undecided voters for both candidates.