Thursday's night presidential town halls were very different from each other, and a similar theme has emerged in the political post-mortems. What was originally supposed to be a face-to-face debate "morphed into a long-distance study in contrasts," write Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck at the New York Times. Essentially, the events provided viewers with a choice: Which style of president do you want, combative or, well, dull?
- The "dueling town halls were like a choose-your-own-ending book, letting us peer into the future and see what the two election outcomes would be like," write Mike Allen and Margaret Talev at Axios.
- "It came off less like a split screen than a breach in the political universe—Die Hard versus It's a Wonderful Life," per David Siders and Anita Kumar at Politico.
- "On one channel, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. On the other, a rerun of Celebrity Deathmatch. Or, at least, that's how it felt," write Scott Bixby and Asawin Suebsaeng at the Daily Beast. That wasn't the only comparison to Mister Rogers. Biden's town hall "feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers [sic] Neighborhood," tweeted Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp. USA Today notes that "Mr. Rogers" was soon trending.
- The events "appeared to be broadcast from entirely different dimensions," according to a story by Michael Scherer, Jenna Johnson, and Josh Dawsey in the Washington Post. "The soft-spoken Biden leaned back in a white chair, relaxed and conversational as he hit upon notes of optimism and uplift. Trump’s appearance was heated and at times abrasive, with the candidate leaning forward as he defended his record and challenged the motivations of moderator Savannah Guthrie."
- "In a nightmare alternate universe, Americans find hope by viewing films from a different dimension, where life unfolds as normal," writes David Frum in the Atlantic. "That's the plot of the Amazon science-fiction series The Man in the High Castle. It was also the experience many Americans had as they flipped back and forth between two town halls last night."
- "Unsurprisingly, Trump's town hall was much more combative than Biden's," writes Kira Davis at RedState. "The Election Commission should have just gone ahead with an in-person debate, since Savannah Guthrie just ended up debating the president anyway. The ratings numbers will be interesting to see, but flipping back and forth between Trump and Biden, it was crystal clear that the more entertaining conversation was over at NBC."
- "As a journalist whose job involves trying to write articles people read, I was, frankly, sad to have been assigned to watch the Biden town hall, which was just not that interesting," writes Matthew Yglesias at Vox. "But as a citizen, it was tremendously reassuring."
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