Trump, Biden to Have Dueling Town Halls, as Harris Cancels Campaign Travel

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were set to face off in dueling town halls Thursday, and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris canceled campaign travel after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.

As the pandemic continues to rattle the campaign, Ms. Harris suspended all campaign travel through Sunday “out of an abundance of caution,” said Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon. The decision was made after Ms. Harris’s communications director and a non-staff flight crew member tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Biden’s campaign said Ms. Harris wasn’t in close contact with either individual during the two days prior to the positive tests. The Biden campaign said Ms. Harris tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday.

Sen. Kamala Harris arrived on Capitol Hill on Tuesday,.


Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Earlier this month, Mr. Trump was hospitalized after he and several White House and campaign aides tested positive for the virus. Mr. Trump’s physician said in a memo released Monday that he had tested negative on consecutive days. Mr. Biden tested negative for the virus on Wednesday night, his campaign said.

Mr. Trump’s diagnosis prompted the organizers of the second presidential debate, initially scheduled for Thursday, to change the format to a virtual event. The debate was canceled after the president said he wouldn’t participate unless it was held in person.

Mr. Biden instead signed up for a town hall on Thursday evening hosted by ABC News. Days later, NBC News announced it had scheduled a competing town hall with Mr. Trump.

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll shows women voters favor Democratic nominee Joe Biden over President Trump by a large margin. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains why we’re likely headed into an election with a gender gap of historic proportions. Photo: Lori King/Associated Press

An NBC News spokesman said it programmed Mr. Trump’s town hall opposite Mr. Biden’s because it had given the same slot to the Democratic nominee in a previous town hall and wanted to keep all things equal. But the network has faced both public and internal backlash over its decision, with critics saying the move forced viewers to choose between the two candidates.

At a campaign rally in North Carolina hours before the town hall was set to begin, Mr. Trump spent several minutes attacking NBC News, referring to the network as “Concast” and “the worst.” He said he had agreed to do the event because “I figure what the hell, we get a free hour of television.”

“I’m being set up tonight,” he told the crowd. “If you want to see a little entertainment, watch.”

Mr. Biden will field questions from voters in Philadelphia, while Mr. Trump will do the same in Miami. Both ABC and NBC said their town halls will follow local public-health guidelines.

A final debate between the two candidates is still expected to take place on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn.

With less than three weeks remaining until the election, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of registered voters found Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 11 points nationally. Recent surveys also show Mr. Biden ahead in several battleground states.

Mr. Trump returned to the campaign trail this week with rallies in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Iowa, while Mr. Biden traveled to Ohio and Florida. The final sprint comes as millions of Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting.

Ms. Harris had been scheduled to make campaign appearances in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the coming days. The campaign said those events would be held virtually instead and Ms. Harris would return to in-person campaigning on Monday.

Mr. Biden raised $383 million in September, surpassing the amount he collected a month earlier, and according to his campaign, he had $432 million cash on hand.

Mr. Trump’s campaign hasn’t yet released its fundraising totals for September. On Thursday, new federal filings showed that billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $75 million to a pro-Trump super PAC that has been airing tens of millions of dollars worth of TV ads attacking Mr. Biden in the final stretch of the campaign.

The donations to Preserve America PAC in August and September were the largest the couple has made this cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data. They had previously given $50 million to Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC focused on defending the Republican majority in the chamber.

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Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at [email protected]

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