If former Vice President Joe Biden loses the presidential election in November, he plans to return to be a professor at the University of Pennsylvania — the alma mater of his opponent, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump.
Thursday night was supposed to be the second presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle, but it was canceled after Trump refused to participate in a virtual format Biden proposed after the president tested positive for coronavirus. Instead, both candidates held separate live town hall events at 8:00 p.m. on competing television networks.
Biden ended his town hall, which was filmed at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, by stating that if his presidential campaign proves unsuccessful, he would return to his teaching duties at Penn.
“I will, hopefully, go back to being a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and making the case that I’ve made at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, focusing on the same issues relating to what constitutes decency and honor in this country,” he said.
Biden is currently on an unpaid leave of absence from the University, but remains the “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor,” and has established the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Biden did not teach regular classes at the University and his title as professor is largely symbolic. Since he took on the role in 2017, he appeared on campus several times, and spoke at Penn at least five times.
Biden's answer came after town hall attendee Keenan Wilson, a Democrat from Narberth, Pennsylvania, asked what he would do to combat racial injustice if he lost the election. Wilson encouraged the former Vice President to use his platform to urge Trump and his supporters "toward the ideals of a more perfect union,” echoing former President Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, “A More Perfect Union," which was also delivered at the National Constitution Center.
Biden’s event was aired on ABC News Network and was moderated by George Stephanopolous, where around 21 Pennsylvania voters had the opportunity to attend and ask questions.
Biden fielded questions about everything from energy and foreign policy to mandatory vaccines. He remained elusive about his stance on court-packing but promised voters he would provide an answer before election day. Biden also critiqued Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it a “presidential responsibility to lead,” and said he plans to implement a national mask mandate. The outbreak has now cost 215,000 American lives.
He also made a direct appeal to Black voters, such as those in the majority-Black Philadelphia area. Biden said he would make the criminal justice system fairer through economic and educational initiatives. He also proposed $70 billion in funding for historically Black colleges and universities.
Trump, one day after saying he tested negative and had recovered from Covid-19, held his town hall in Miami at the Pérez Art Museum, hosted by the NBC News Network. His event was moderated by Savannah Guthrie and 60 Florida voters in the audience to ask the president questions.
President of Penn Democrats and College senior Owen Voutsinas-Klose said he was glad Biden was able to have his own town hall.
“We’ve seen enough of Trump already, so I’m looking forward to Biden presenting a positive case for his candidacy, and not just being anti-Trump, but also all the good things that he actually wants to do to combat climate change, make sure people have healthcare, rebuild better after the coronavirus pandemic, bring the economy back — those sorts of things,” Voutsinas-Klose said.
The third and final presidential debate is scheduled to occur on October 22, less than two weeks before Election Day on November 3, at Belmont University. Currently, the Commission on Presidential Debates says the debate is set to go on, but all required testing, masks, social distancing, and protocols must be followed. NBC News will host, and NBC White House correspondent and co-anchor of "Weekend TODAY” Kristen Welker will moderate.