President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will face-off tonight, albeit in an entirely different setting, as they will not physically face each other.
After the second presidential debate was canceled due to Trump's refusal to do it virtually despite his previous COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump and Biden will have separate Q&A (question and answer) sessions, which will be aired separately by different television networks.
The twist is that both events will be televised at exactly 8 P.M. Eastern Time, with Trump and Biden answering questions from voters.
The Q&A sessions will happen as millions of ballots have already been cast by voters for the election on November 3, BBC reported.
In several surveys and opinion polls, Biden is leading by as much as a 10-point advantage over Trump, who is vying for re-election.
However, it was also noted that Biden only has a narrow advantage in several key states.
As the election nears, campaigning has also picked up the pace. Trump has held rallies in Florida, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, while Biden is said to have been traveling to Florida and Ohio.
What to expect in the Q&As
Trump will be having his question and answer session, or otherwise known as 'town hall' in Miami, and it would be broadcasted by NBC.
On the other hand, Biden's Q&A will follow the same format. However, he will be having his session in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and will be aired by ABC. As mentioned earlier, bot Q&As will air simultaneously.
This means that viewers will have to choose who among the two's town halls they will be watching or who between Trump and Biden would they want to listen to as they answer questions.
In a report by Page Six, it was noted that NBC had been criticized for scheduling Trump's town hall at the same time as Biden's since the former vice-president had already arranged his Q&A days before Trump announced his on Wednesday.
NBC also responded to the backlash after many have called them out for going after ratings. A representative from the network stated that ratings were last on their list of concerns, which is topped with public health issues and the media's responsibility to inform the public.
It was also emphasized by the network that the event will be held in an outdoor setting and that the moderator and Trump will be situated 12 feet apart. It was also noted that the audience will be socially distanced and will be required to wear masks.
Moreover, the network stated that they had received advice from the country's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, that the president is no longer infectious.
ABC News, for its part, stated that they would be adhering to the imposed guidelines by the local government and the state during Biden's town hall event.
Why is the debate not happening?
On October 1, President Trump tested positive for COVID-19. He was taken to the hospital and stayed there for three nights, then continued his recovery at the White House until he was cleared by his doctors to return to campaigning last weekend, Yahoo! News reported.
However, despite already testing negative for the disease, his initial diagnosis hindered the possibility of his second face-off with Biden, which was initially scheduled on Thursday. According to the organizing committee of the event, they wanted to protect and ensure the safety of everyone involved and proposed a change in format.
The committee on debates stated that they wanted a virtual debate, which the president refused to join. Thus, the debate was canceled and replaced by the separate town hall sessions.
Related article: US Election: Americans Surge to Cast Early Voting