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President Trump and Joe Biden are pictured at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland.

The second presidential debate was supposed to be a town hall style debate in which both candidates participated in answering questions from American voters.

Once President Donald Trump contracted the coronavirus, it was suggested that the debate take place virtually — something that the president would not agree to. Probably because then the moderator would have the ability to actually mute his mic — something that Chris Wallace did not have the luxury of being able to do.

This led a particularly interesting thing to happen — each candidate held their own in-person town hall meeting on different networks but at the same time. Separating them showed how true to character both of the candidates are. It also highlighted who the likely culprit of chaos from the first debate was (not that we were unaware already).

The first topic in Trump’s town hall meeting was unsurprisingly about him previously having the coronavirus. Trump held fast to the claim that he could not remember when his last test was and what the result was. This brought into question why Trump was so adamant about not following the guidelines. As usual, he held to the statement that the president could not be locked in a room — that it would be a bad image.

A bad image is contracting a virus due to irresponsibility and then telling American people with far fewer resources that it was not a terrible experience. Following guidelines set by our nation’s scientists would set a good example; not show some sort of weakness. He could have made public appearances and followed guidelines — the president has become the prime example of what not to do.

In contrast with the first debate, Trump immediately stated when asked that he denounced white supremacy. Stating that former Vice President Joe Biden was not asked questions like this immediately, and that it just showed how he was being treated. The question was fair as there was confusion over it in the first debate.

Savannah Guthrie proved to be an excellent moderator in Trump’s town hall debate. Her willingness to not let the question at hand go unanswered made her abilities shine. The dynamic between the president and Guthrie created a dynamic that a lot of Americans can relate to. One of a Republican parent debating with their Democratic children — something occurring all over the country (sometimes vice versa as well).

Trump, as in the first debate, was somewhat classless in his argumentative nature, especially with Guthrie. When asked if he would accept the election results, Trump responded that he would if it was an honest election. This is leaving him leeway to go back on this later. Leaving him to decide what he deems to be an honest election. Like saying you are not feeling the best before competing so that if you lose you have something to blame — a sort of cop out.

Politicians, Democratic and Republican alike, love skirting the question. A practice that they may think goes unnoticed, but a practice that is picked up very easily as the American people are becoming less tolerant of politicians not answering questions.

As expected, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was also a topic of discussion, with President Trump, referring to getting Barrett on the Supreme Court, stating “We are going to do it before the election.” The president also stated that if the Democrats were in the same position they would do the same — something that I find to be true. Bipartisan relations are tense, and both sides try to get an edge any way they can. It is human nature to set your side up for success. Wrapping up his time the president said that “next year is going to be better than ever before.”

Biden’s town hall meeting lacked the dramatics of the president’s, reminding us which one of them has been on reality TV. Trump makes for great news because watching him is simply entertaining since you never know what is going to happen. Biden on the other hand is very mellow in his approaches.

In Biden’s debate, there was a concerning trend: he refused to truly answer certain questions. Claiming that if he answered the question that people would focus on that instead of what the Trump administration was doing. Well yes, that’s the point. It reminded me of when English teachers ask what the symbol in the book means and everyone is like, “Well, I am going to let the other person answer before I do to make sure I am not wrong.”

Biden is simply skirting the question in order to avoid contradictions later. Something that would be a smart move if it were not so obvious. The Biden campaign is the person you play rock paper scissors with that waits the half second after “shoot” to counteract your move more accurately.

Certain issues, such as LGBTQ rights and minorities safety were handled very well, with Biden proposing that those with mental health training accompany the police in the field and that LGBTQ rights must be protected. Bipartisanship is also a strong point in Biden’s points he discussed. It is a very important issue in a nation that feels so divided. In an era where people of all ages relationships with others can be tarnished by a political opinion, bipartisanship is very important. It seems as if political issues have seeped into every aspect of life — something I am sure we are all a bit restless of. People are elected to run the country, not treat it like a custody battle. Things cannot get done because both sides are unwilling to compromise.

An issue that was also touched on was the lack of respect America has received internationally — an issue Biden attributes to Trump. I tend to find that we treat America like a sports team we support. Internally we critique it immensely: Does the coach do a good job? Are the players selected going to win? When others critique it, it becomes a whole different take. We become a bit defensive of it — remind places like Britain that we are the ones that beat them in the 1700s and we would do it again. We have a sense of patriotism that even in our darkest times does not break. We are all Americans at the core and this, as Biden mentioned, is a very diverse country. Unity is key, and it is hard to remember that when we seem so divided. Biden ended his segment stating that he will follow the commission rules for the next and final debate when asked if he would require Trump to disclose his testing.

This debate’s setup was very unique and also required anyone who wanted to watch both of them to take more time out of their lives than the first debate. It definitely was not as nuclear as the first presidential debate, but considering that they were separated, it was not expected to be. In the next and final debate it will be interesting to see if we witness another crash or an actual civil debate. Watching the candidate’s individual performances makes it clear that President Trump’s personality will probably not allow a truly civil debate to happen.

These town hall debates proved to be more informative than the initial debate, but let’s put both of the candidates in a room together again and see what happens. My hopes are not high, but miracles do happen.

FlipSide is the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s teen publication. You can read more stories at

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