Welcome to our coverage of what was supposed to be the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

It has ended up being something rather different, with Mr Trump and Mr Biden holding competing, simultaneous town hall forums on two different TV networks.

That means a whole bunch of voters - those without the time or the desire to go back and watch a second town hall later - have to choose which candidate they want to watch.

Just quietly, it is also less than ideal for your humble live bloggers, who are only capable of properly watching and transcribing one event at a time.

We are in this situation because of the President's coronavirus diagnosis earlier this month. The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan body which organises these events, announced it would hold the second debate remotely to guarantee the safety of attendees.

Mr Trump said he would not participate in a virtual debate, and accused the commission of trying to protect Mr Biden.

"That's not acceptable to us," he told Fox Business in an interview last week.

"I beat him easily in the first debate, according to the polls I've seen. I beat him easily. I felt I beat him easily. I think he felt it too."

(Side note - the polls actually showed Mr Biden winning the first debate easily, for what it's worth. Though historically, post-debate polls have not been worth much.)

"I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That's not what debating's about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate, it's ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want," Mr Trump continued.

Perhaps he expected the commission to back down and consent to holding the debate in person. Instead, it cancelled the event entirely.

So here we are. Mr Trump is appearing on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC for an hour. Mr Biden will be over on ABC News, and his town hall runs for 90 minutes.

I'll cover the President first, and then bring you the highlights from Mr Biden.

Biden concedes crime bill was 'a mistake'

Joe Biden was grilled on his support for a wide-ranging crime bill that passed in 1994, when he was a senator, and led to a large increase in people being jailed for minor drug crimes.

"What's your view on the crime bill that you wrote in 1994, that showed prejudice against minorities? Where do you stand today on that?" asked voter Angelica Politahros.

"Well first of all, things have changed drastically," Mr Biden said.

"The Black Caucus voted for it, every black mayor supported it, across the board.

"The crime bill itself did not have mandatory sentences except for two things. It had three strikes and you're out, which I voted against in the bill, but it had a lot of other things in it that turned out to be both bad and good.

"What I was against was giving states more money for prison systems that they could build. State prison systems."

"Was it a mistake to support it?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yes it was," Mr Biden acknowledged. He then proceeded to shift the blame to the states.

"But here's where the mistake came. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally. What we did federally was - you remember, George, it was all about the same time for the same crime."

He said his position was that minor drug crimes should lead to mandatory rehabilitation, not jail time.

Biden asked about coronavirus vaccine

Joe Biden's town hall with ABC News started with a question on the coronavirus.

Business owner Kelly Leigh, who voted for Donald Trump four years ago but is currently undecided, asked whether the Democratic nominee would make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory.

"We should be thinking about making it mandatory," Mr Biden said, before promptly admitting he would not actually have the power to do any such thing at a national level.

"How could you enforce that?" asked moderator George Stephanopoulos.

"You couldn't. That's the problem. Just like you can't enforce measles," said Mr Biden.

"You can't come to school unless you have a measles shot. But you can't say everyone has to do this.

"It's like you can't mandate a mask. But you can say, you can go to every governor and get them all in a room, all 50 of them, as president, and say, 'Ask people to wear the mask.'"

"And if they don't? Fine?" asked Stephanopoulos.

"No, not fine. Then I go to every mayor. I go to every councilman, I go to every local official, and say, 'Mandate the mask. This is what you have to do when you're out. Make sure you encourage it being done.'

"Look. The words of a president matter. No matter whether they're good, bad or indifferent, they matter.

"And when a president doesn't wear a mask, or makes fun of folks like me when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then people say, 'Well it mustn't be that important.'

"I think it matters what we say."

Trump's closing pitch to voters

Guthrie ended the town hall by asking Mr Trump to tell undecided voters "why they should give you a second chance and why you might improve in a second term".

"Because I've done a great job," the President said.

"We have the strongest economy in the world. We closed it up, we are coming around the corner, the vaccines are coming out soon and our economy is strong.

"We are at a level with jobs like we've never been before. We've rebuilt our military. We've rebuilt our borders, we had no borders, we had no nothing. We've rebuilt so much.

"We've given you the greatest tax cut in the history of our country. Greatest regulation cut, equally as important, and we've created new levels of jobs that nobody thought was possible.

"And next year is going to be better than ever before."

OK, I'm going to grab a coffee - it's almost 10pm here in the US which is WAY past my preferred bedtime - and then we'll run through the other town hall with Joe Biden.

Guthrie asks Trump about personal debt

Moderator Savannah Guthrie jumped back in to ask Mr Trump about his personal taxes.

She brought up a recent investigation from The New York Times, which got its hands on the President's tax returns and concluded he had about $US420 million in personal debt - most of it coming due in the next four years.

"The question is, on behalf of voters, who do you owe $421 million to?" Guthrie asked.

"What they did is illegal, number one. Also, the numbers are all wrong, that they're releasing," Mr Trump said.

"And just so you understand, when you have a lot of real estate - I have, you know, a lot of real estate, big stuff, great stuff - when I decided to run, I'm very underleveraged.

"I have a very, very small percentage of debt compared to - in fact, some of it I did as favours to institutions that wanted to loan me money.

"Four hundred million dollars, compared to the assets that I have, all of these great properties I have all over the world."

He went on to list a few of the buildings he owns.

The picture Mr Trump painted is obviously at odds with the one described by The Times, which found most of the President's major properties - particularly his golf resorts - had been haemorrhaging money for years, and he might find himself in a position where he is unable to pay his debts during his second term.

Mr Trump could clear up the facts here by releasing his tax returns to the public. He has refused to do that since before the 2016 election.

Guthrie asked whether Mr Trump owed any money to a foreign bank or entity.

"Not that I know of," he replied.

"I want to say two things. One is that it's a very small amount of money. Number two, it's very straight. It's very, very straight. But it's a tiny percentage of the worth."

'You're so handsome when you smile'

In a moment certain to tickle the internet, one of the voters in the audience told Mr Trump he was handsome.

"Good evening Mr President. I have to say, you have a great smile," she said, smiling broadly herself.

"Thank you. Thank you," Mr Trump replied, flashing said great grin.

"He does. You're so handsome when you smile," she added.

The voter in question, Paulette Dale, was identified as a Republican leaning towards Joe Biden.

She did ask an actual question but to be honest I was cackling too loudly to hear it.

Anyway, I assume the Trump campaign will be selling some kind of smile-based merchandise within the hour.

After the Biden campaign's fly swatter stunt last week, I have reached the conclusion that American political groupies will buy literally anything.

While we're on this lighter note, many people are also amused by one of the "undecided" voters sitting behind Mr Trump, who has nodded along to literally everything he's said. She even flashed a thumbs up for the camera during one of his answers.

Voter grills Trump on virus response

We eventually did get around to hearing some questions from the audience. The first one came from Jacqueline Lugo, who identified herself as an independent voter leaning towards Joe Biden.

"Mr President, if you knew COVID-19, as you told Bob Woodward in February-" she started to ask.

"As what?" Mr Trump asked.

"As you told Bob Woodward in February was airborne and deadlier than the flu, why did you only put in place a travel ban from China and not put in place other measures mitigating the spread of COVID-19, potentially saving tens of thousands of American lives?" Ms Lugo finished.

"Well I did put it in very early, as you know. Joe Biden was two months behind me, and he called me xenophobic and racist and everything else because I put it in," Mr Trump said.

"And it turned out I was 100 per cent right. I also put it on Europe very early."

To be clear about this, the President imposed a partial travel ban on China from February 2 onwards. It was not a complete ban, and thousands of people continued to arrive in the US from China after that.

He did not impose a ban on travel from Europe until mid-March. We didn't know then, but do know now, that most of America's early coronavirus infections came via Europe.

"It's sort of an amazing question, and I appreciate the question and respect the question," Mr Trump continued.

"But the news doesn't get out the right answer. Because I put on a travel ban far earlier than Dr Fauci thought was necessary, who I like. Far earlier than the scientists - I was actually the only one that wanted to put it on, and I did it, actually against the advice of a lot of people."

Mr Trump frequently makes this claim, that he imposed the travel restrictions on China over the protestations of his medical experts.

In his book - the one Ms Lugo referred to in her question - Watergate journalist Bob Woodward reports the restrictions were actually recommended by at least five of the President's advisers - Dr Fauci, Health Secretary Alex Azar, CDC Director Robert Redfield, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and Mr O'Brien's deputy Matthew Pottinger.

Mr Trump first announced social distancing guidelines for the US in mid-March, shortly after the Europe travel ban.

'Here we go again': Trump clashes with moderator

We're a good chunk of time into this town hall forum now and none of the voters in the audience have asked a question yet. It has essentially been an extended interview between Guthrie and Mr Trump.

After grilling the President on his coronavirus response, she brought up a moment from the first debate, when Mr Trump told the extreme right-wing group The Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by".

"You were asked point blank to denounce white supremacy. In the moment, you didn't. A coupe of days later, on a different show-" Guthrie said.

"Oh, you always do this," Mr Trump interjected.

"You know, you always do this. You've done this to me, and everybody - I denounced white supremacy, OK?"

"You did it two days later," Guthrie said.

"I've denounced white supremacy for years. But you always do it, you always start off with the question," the President said.

"You didn't ask Joe Biden whether or not he denounces Antifa. I watched him on the same basic show, with Lester Holt (another NBC anchor), and he was asking questions like Biden was a child.

"Are you listening? I denounced white supremacy. What's your next question?"

"It feels sometimes like you're hesitant to do so," Guthrie said, refusing to change the subject.

"Here we go again," said Mr Trump.

"Every time. In fact, when people came, 'I'm sure they'll ask you the white supremacy question.' I denounced white supremacy, and frankly, you want to know something? I denounce Antifa, and I denounce these people on the left that are burning down our cities."

"All right. While we're denouncing, let me bring up QAnon," Guthrie said.

"It is this theory that Democrats are a Satanic paedophile ring, and taht you are the saviour of that. Now can you just once and for all state that that is completely untrue, and disavow QAnon in its entirety?"

"I know nothing about QAnon," Mr Trump said.

"I just told you," Guthrie shot back.

"You tell me, but what you tell me doesn't necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that," he said.

"I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against paedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.

"I'll tell you what I do know about. I know about Antifa and I know about the radical left and I know how violent they are and how vicious they are, and I know how they're burning down cities run by Democrats."

Guthrie persisted, quoting Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who said QAnon is "nuts" and "real leaders call conspiracy theories conspiracy theories".

"Why not just say it's crazy?" she said.

"He may be right. I just don't know about QAnon," Mr Trump insisted.

"You do know," said Guthrie.

"I don't know. No, I don't know. I don't know," he said.

"Let's waste a whole show. You start off with white supremacy, I denounce it. You start off with something else - let's go, keep asking me these questions.

"Let me just tell you, what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against paedophilia. And I agree with that. I mean I do agree with that."

"OK, there's not a Satantic paedophile cult being run-" Guthrie said.

"I have no idea. I know nothing about that," he replied.

"You know nothing about that?" Guthrie asked incredulously, clearly exasperated.

"No I don't know that. And neither do you know that."

The shouting match continued for a little while after that but I think you get the gist.

Trump doesn't know when he tested negative

One of the unanswered questions about Mr Trump's coronavirus diagnosis is when he last tested negative for the virus, before testing positive two days after the first debate with Mr Biden.

Guthrie asked the President, point blank, when that last negative test had been taken.

"Well I test quite a bit, and I can tell you that before the debate - which I thought it was a very good debate - and I felt fantastically. I had no problem before," he said.

"Did you test the day of the debate?" Guthrie asked.

"I don't know. I don't even remember. I test all the time," said Mr Trump.

The venue for the first debate operated on an honour system. Mr Trump and Mr Biden both had to say they had tested negative at some point in the 72 hours leading up to the event.

The date of Mr Trump's last negative test would be useful for nailing down the timeline of his infection. His doctors and the White House have refused to say when it was.

"I probably did, and I took a test the day before and the day before, and I was always in great shape," Mr Trump said when Guthrie pressed him again.

Trump says he has no symptoms anymore


Originally published as 'Here we go again': Trump fumes on live TV