By LIBBY CATHEY and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News
(PHILADELPHIA) — With less than three weeks to Election Day, Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden will face voters directly in an ABC News Town Hall from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The live special edition of “20/20” — titled “The Vice President and the People” — will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos and airs from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on ABC Television Network and streams on ABC News Live. A 30-minute post-show, featuring the ABC News political team for more context and analysis, will follow the town hall portion.
The primetime event comes after a fiery back-and-forth on the fate of the second presidential debate, which was originally scheduled for Thursday in Miami but ultimately canceled last Friday.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates changed its format to be virtual following President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis, to which Trump took issue, saying he wouldn’t “waste” time in a virtual debate. With Trump’s rejection of the event, Biden then agreed to participate in the town hall with ABC.
Voters will have the opportunity to ask the former vice president the questions most important to them
The event will be held in accordance with state and local government health and safety regulations, as well as guidelines set forward by health officials.
Trump, at the same time Thursday, is participating in a town hall from Miami with NBC News. The president participated in an ABC News town hall in September.
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
Oct 15, 6:24 pm
Biden tests negative for COVID-19
The Biden campaign announced earlier in the day that the former vice president tested negative for COVID-19 Wednesday night — the eighth publicly announced Biden coronavirus test result.
“As part of our regular routine of testing, Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 last night and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.
It came on the heels of another announcement that a top aide to Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Biden’s running mate, tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Harris to suspend travel “out of an abundance of caution” through Monday.
Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, both tested negative for COVID-19 Thursday, the campaign said.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Averi Harper
Oct 15, 5:54 pm
Biden, DNC announce $432 million cash on hand
Heading into the town hall, Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced they raised a whopping $383 million in the month of September — outpacing their August total of $364.5 million.
“That’s more money than I’ve ever raised in my whole life!” Biden said in a video posted to Twitter late Wednesday, noting that the average donation was “something like $44 dollars — it was under $50.”
Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon added to the announcement, announcing that the campaign has $432 million cash on hand.
“Our success has been driven by our grassroots supporters. $203 million came from online donors. We had 1.1 million new donors last month — bringing the total to 5.5 million donors throughout this campaign. And as a result, we have $432 million in the bank,” O’Malley Dillon tweeted.
The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have not yet released September fundraising numbers. In August, they reported raising $210 million along with joint fundraising committees.
Oct 15, 5:23 pm
What happened to the second presidential debate?
The second presidential debate, taking a town-hall format, was originally scheduled for Thursday. Now Biden and Trump are participating in separate town halls.
So what happened?
Trump disclosed on Twitter on Oct. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Six days later, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the second debate in Miami would be virtual. It would maintain its town hall format, but unlike the first debate, the candidates would participate remotely from separate locations.
Biden agreed. Trump did not, telling Fox News moments after the announcement, “I’m not going to waste my time” on a virtual format.
With the president out, the Biden campaign signed on to an ABC News Town Hall.
The Trump campaign, hours after saying Trump would host a rally on Oct. 15 instead of debating, then said it would participate in the second debate if it was pushed back a week and the final scheduled debate also was pushed back a week.
But the Biden campaign quickly shot down the idea of rearranging the dates, saying they were agreed to back in June.
So Trump made plans to appear in a NBC town hall in Miami, taking place at the same time as Biden’s ABC News town hall.
Amid the back-and-forth between the campaigns, the Commission on Presidential Debates officially canceled the second debate in a statement last Thursday saying, “It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15.”
Both candidates have agreed to participate in the third and final debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 22.
Oct 15, 5:14 pm
How to watch ABC News’ Biden town hall
The live, 90-minute special airs on ABC Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
For those looking for other ways to watch, it will also stream simultaneously on ABC News Live, which is available on Hulu, Roku, YouTube TV, Amazon Fire tablets and TV stick, Xumo, Sling TV, Facebook, Twitter, and the ABC News and ABC mobile apps.
A half-hour post-event show featuring the ABC News political team for more context and analysis will follow the town hall portion and is also available on streaming.
Oct 15, 5:10 pm
Town-hall time arrives as voting turnout smashes records
Biden and Trump will both face voters — albeit not in the way envisioned by the debate commission or really any actual voters.
But however the collective audience sorts through an unusual evening, with Biden at an 8 p.m. ET ABC News forum in Philadelphia, and Trump at a competing event in Miami on NBC, voters are voting — lots of them.
Records for this far out from Election Day are being set virtually by the hour and in virtually every state. Nationwide, more than 16 million ballots have already been cast, nearly five times the number logged at a similar point in 2016, according to records compiled by the most prominent authority on early voting, Michael McDonald of the University of Florida.
In Georgia, more than 537,000 mail ballots have already been accepted and returned, compared to some 200,000 in all of 2016. The start of in-person voting there brought hours-long lines this week; there have been similar scenes in Texas, where more than half a million voters showed up on the first day available to vote.
Nine states are already above 20% of their total 2016 turnout — Election Day votes included — with nearly three weeks left to vote. In-person voting starts in another key battleground — North Carolina — on Thursday.
It’s too soon to extrapolate particular outcomes out of the interest in voters casting ballots early. Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden, and a sizeable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3 itself.
Regardless, for all the noise around election integrity and distaste for politics generally, votes are pouring in. Biden and Trump are engaging with voters who have not only mostly made up their minds, but are acting on it every minute of the next 19 days.
-ABC News Political Director Rick Klein
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.