Instead of the scheduled presidential debate on Oct. 15, America watched two separate town halls from the candidates, one in Miami and one in Philadelphia. Drexel University had the opportunity to be represented in one of them.
Rajeev Nunna, a fourth-year finance student in the LeBow College of Business, was one of the 20 selected attendants at candidate Joe Biden’s town hall held in the Constitution Center. The event was called “The Vice President and the People,” hosted by ABC and moderated by journalist George Stephanopoulos.
After the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the debate on Oct. 15 would be held virtually due to COVID-19 concerns, President Donald Trump rejected the offer, and each party and broadcast companies were looking for ways to substitute this event. As a result, the two town halls were held separately during the same night in different swing-states. In Florida, NBC hosted Trump’s town hall, and in Pennsylvania, ABC hosted Biden’s.
Producers from ABC reached out to people throughout Pennsylvania, including college students, and that eventually reached Nunna. He received the information from a friend, who also goes to Drexel, and gave a call to the producers. After two interviews, he was selected out of 200 people to appear in the town hall.
Due to time constraints, only half of the town hall attendants were given the opportunity to ask their questions live during the 90-minute broadcast, and Nunna was not one of them. Nonetheless, he still had the chance to ask his question to Biden after the live programming had ended but while cameras were still rolling.
“I wrote two questions and they picked which question I was going to ask,” Nunna, an undecided voter, said. “I cited a report that the House Judiciary had put out around two weeks ago where it basically recommends breaking up big tech companies like Amazon and Google. So I asked him if he agrees with the report and he supports breaking up big tech.”
According to Nunna — who is originally from Houston but is registered to vote at the DAC on Drexel’s campus this Election Day — Biden did not answer the first part of the question directly. The candidate said he has not had a chance to give it a deep look yet, but he said he supports changes to antitrust laws and small businesses face challenges when they first get started.
“I think they did a good town hall, I have nothing but good things to say about the ABC producers,” Nunna said. “They hit all the relevant topics everyone wants to hear: coronavirus, race-relations, the Supreme Court, Foreign Policy, American unity. There was even a question about what he would do if he lost.”
In Nunna’s opinion, the only question missing was about the case of Hunter Biden.
Regarding safety measures, Nunna said that he was very satisfied.
“They required everyone to get tested [for COVID-19] before the event, no one was able to get inside the Constitution Center without having taken a rapid COVID-19 test and being negative. […] You had to wear a mask the entire time, they still required social distance even though everyone has tested negative,” Nunna said.
Furthermore, only 11 out of the 20 people were allowed in the auditorium at the time and they rotated the people in between breaks, Nunna added.
“It was great that they incorporated students and young people,” Nunna said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest groups that are going to be voting this election. It’s my first presidential election, and it’s actually my first election that I’m going to be voting in general.”
Additionally, members of the Democratic party have done a lot of campaigns for the Biden-Harris ticket in Philadelphia since the town hall.
Senator Cory Booker campaigned around businesses in the Fairmount area. Andrew Yang campaigned in Chinatown for the Asian vote and even held a socially-distanced talk for college students on Clark Park in West Philadelphia.
Finally, former president Barack Obama did a drive-in rally for Biden at Citizens Bank Park this Wednesday, Oct. 21, being the first in-person campaign event he has done for this election cycle.