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Biden, Trump return to swing states after competing TV town halls

President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden campaigned in battleground states Friday, with Biden traveling to Michigan and Trump to Florida. The appearances come after the two participated in televised town hall events Thursday night. On different broadcast networks, they took questions from voters on issues including the pandemic, racism and the Supreme Court. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The presidential candidates were back out on the campaign trail today, just hours after their prime-time town halls.

    They set their sights on battleground states, aiming to drum up more support in the final weeks of the race.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Eighteen days until the election, and the presidential candidates are both on the road in pivotal swing states today.

    President Trump in Florida.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I will protect you, I will defend you, and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And former Vice President Biden in Michigan.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    He doesn't have any plan. I'm going to rebuild a resilient infrastructure, creating good-paying jobs, building roads and bridges.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This after a night originally scheduled for a face-to-face debate. Instead, Americans saw competing TV town halls.

    Mr. Trump got an hour of prime-time at his event in Miami, hosted by NBC News. He had refused to debate Biden in a virtual format, following his COVID-19 diagnosis. But it's unclear just how much better this was for him. He spent much of the night on the defense.

  • President Donald Trump:

    No, you always do this.

  • Savannah Guthrie:

    My question to you is…

  • President Donald Trump:

    You've done this to me. And everybody…

  • Savannah Guthrie:

    Why does it…

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    NBC's Savannah Guthrie confronted President Trump with questions about his health.

  • Savannah Guthrie:

    When was your last negative test? Did you test the day of the debate?

  • President Donald Trump:

    It was afterwards. I don't know. I don't even remember.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Even after his own bout with the coronavirus, Mr. Trump wavered on his position on masks, falsely claiming that 85 percent of people who wear them catch the virus.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I was OK with the masks. I was good with it. But I have heard many different stories on masks.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And when pressed, he refused to disavow the far-right conspiracy group QAnon.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I just don't know about QAnon.

  • Savannah Guthrie:

    You do know.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I don't know. No, I don't know. I don't know.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    A remote control click away, quite a contrast..

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    The words of a president matter.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Instead of combative exchanges, longer answers, and more time for voter questions.

  • Cedric Humphrey:

    Besides "You ain't Black," what do you have to say to young Black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continually fails to protect them?

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    Well, I would say, first of all, as my buddy John Lewis said, it's a sacred opportunity, the right to vote. You can make a difference.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Early ratings indicated the Biden town hall, moderated by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia, brought in more viewers than did the president's.

    Biden eagerly dived into policy, substance, and his opponent's track record.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    You have Iran closer to having enough nuclear material to build a bomb. North Korea has more bombs and missiles available to it. We find ourselves where our NATO allies are publicly saying they can't count on us.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    With no interruptions, compared to last time the two candidates shared the stage, Biden addressed voters' concerns directly.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    Well, there's a lot more if you want to — if you can hang out afterwards, I will tell you more.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The issues making the biggest headlines this week marked moments in both events.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    I would not have appointed her.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Biden declined to answer whether he's open to expanding the Supreme Court, following Republicans' push to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    It depends on how much they rush this.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But he promised voters a definitive stance by the election.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Trump also dodged other matters potentially hinging on that confirmation. He said he never told Barrett how to vote if the landmark abortion rights case Roe vs. Wade ever got challenged on the court.

    He refused to commit to whether he'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I don't want to do anything to influence anything right now.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    A stark contrast from his stance in 2016.

  • President Donald Trump:

    If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's really what's going to be — that will happen, and that'll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The two candidates are next set to appear together Thursday for their final debate.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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