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Letters to the Editor: The illusion of town halls for undecided voters

President Trump; Joe Biden
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in dueling town halls in, respectively, Miami and Philadelphia on Oct. 15.
(Associated Press)

The L.A. Times’ letters page reflects not the broad balance of public opinion as much as the thinking of a large, self-selected group of readers who choose to make their views known to us. Still, there are times when I cannot help but think our readers neatly capture the zeitgest of our polarized age. So it is with the letters on the dueling presidential town halls Thursday night put on by President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The events pantomime as forums for undecided voters, but the reactions to them suggest they made the strongest impressions on people who had already made up their minds. Letter writers who favor Biden echoed the Democrat’s criticism of the president, and readers who prefer Trump echoed his attacks on the media and the former vice president. There was plenty of digging in, and no apparent changing of minds.

Brett Skarupa of Helendale, Calif., went after the media:

NBC journalist Savannah Guthrie’s behavior in her town hall with Trump was abhorrent. She was the moderator, yet she asked 43 questions compared to the 10 asked by members of the audience. She turned the event into a debate with the president; if she wanted to do that, she should have become a candidate.

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The media’s main responsibility is to accurately report the news, not constantly ridicule the president. Guthrie and her cohorts should be ashamed of themselves for this totally biased election coverage in 2020.

David L. McDaniel of Capistrano Beach made a similar argument:

Shame on The Times for its biased coverage of the two town halls. Biden’s was an obvious exercise in how to make sure a candidate can sit upright and answer softball questions. Trump’s was an exercise in throwing fastball questions at him.

If The Times got any more biased for Biden, it would just be a periodical for the Democratic Party.

Lynn Lorenz of Newport Beach was reassured by Biden:

What could be more comforting to the American public right now than to listen to the former vice president’s knowledgeable answers to the questions asked at his town hall? His answers revealed his vast experience in government and his gregarious and friendly connection to the public.

Far from presenting himself as a policy wonk, Biden strove to establish a connection between a kinder and less chaotic time and the possibility of a brighter future. I think many Americans welcomed “Uncle Joe” reassuring us that the American Dream has not disappeared.

Marcy Sheinwold of Laguna Woods said the country is ready to break up with the president:

Trump is a bad blind date. Instead of sweet talk, hope for a better tomorrow and love, Trump offers empty promises and disinformation. If you are looking for a dependable future partner, Trump is not it.

Women voters should have no illusions. As evident during his town hall, Trump wants to erode abortion rights, eliminate the protections of the Affordable Care Act and dodge any responsibility for his failure to control the pandemic.

He will not even pay attention to us but only brag about himself. He also has a tendency to be combative. We should simply leave this date waiting outside the door.


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