The contrast in the Thursday-night town halls was striking. One felt to some like a square-off or deposition, while the other reminded others like a nice fireside chat with warm cocoa. The Trump campaign also noticed, and today it called out NBC host Savannah Guthrie for going into debate mode.
“Even though the [Commission on Presidential Debates] canceled the in-person debate that could have happened tonight, one occurred anyway, and President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room.”
The Trump campaign continued in the statement by drawing a contrast with the ABC town hall. “Over on ABC it was a completely different scene, as once again Biden was kept comfortable and away from any questions that might challenge him. Americans can see that President Trump is leading the country, has built the economy to the best in the world once and is doing it again, and quite clearly has accomplished more in 47 months than Biden has in 47 years as a failed Washington politician.”
The Trump campaign wasn’t the only one who noticed the differences between the two town halls. Former George Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer discussed it on Twitter as the town halls were in progress. “I just switched to NBC since ABC is in a commercial. Savanah Guthrie has interrupted Trump in these 60 seconds more than Stephanopoulos has done to Biden in 40 mins. NBC is an interrogation. ABC is a picnic.”
Many critics also pointed to the fact that one of the biggest stories of the last few days, the New York Post article about Hunter and Joe Biden’s alleged connections to a Ukraine energy firm, was not mentioned once in the Biden town hall on ABC. No questions about it, no statements, essentially avoiding the topic altogether.