Joe Biden’s first “virtual town hall” was marred with technical gaffes and confusion, and ended after only five minutes.
The former vice president had to cancel his Friday rally in Chicago over coronavirus concerns, and his campaign sought to connect with Illinois voters online instead.
The event was broadcast live on Facebook and conducted with Zoom, a business videoconferencing app. It got off to a confusing start with the presidential hopeful starting his remarks before the camera started recording.
As he prepared to take a phone question from “Maureen” the line went dead.
“You there?” Biden asked.
At another point, Biden answered a question on endangered species by turning away from the camera and walking off the screen.
Less than five minutes in, the town hall abruptly ended, and Biden and his aide apologized for the problems.
“I’m sorry this has been such a disjointed effort here because of the connections. … There’s a lot more to say, but I’ve already probably said too much to you,” Biden said, holding a smartphone in his hand.
The botched event got some tough reviews.
“Joe, you need a new technical team. They’re making you look bad…,” commented one Facebook user, Amanda Turbyfill Martin, on Biden’s page.
“No level of technical team can stop someone from wandering confused out of the camera frame cause they forgot it was a live feed,” added another user, Jake Perkins.
Biden and rival Sen. Bernie Sanders have suspended large gatherings over concerns about spreading the virus as the primary race continues with a debate Sunday night and more voting Tuesday.
Sanders, I-Vt., acknowledged Friday that fears about the spread of coronavirus have damaged his ability to leverage large rallies into support at the polls, and suggested that future Democratic presidential primary voting should be delayed if health officials recommend doing so.
“We do more rallies than anybody else, and (they’re) often very well-attended. I love to do them,” the senator told reporters at a hotel in his home state of Vermont. “This coronavirus has obviously impacted our ability to communicate with people in the traditional way that we do. That’s hurting.”
Thousands of people gathering to hear him speak has defined Sanders since he first sought the White House in 2016. But the practice has been curtailed as health officials attempt to slow the virus’ spread.
Instead, Sanders has convened the media for three straight days to blast the Trump administration over its handling of the pandemic, warning of dire impacts on the economy and human health.
Despite trailing Biden in the delegate race, Sanders has given no indication he’ll drop out.
He’s vowed to grill Biden on issues like expanding health coverage, combating climate change, reducing college debt and overhauling a biased criminal justice system during Sunday’s debate.
In the meantime, though, the race continues to shift around both candidates. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is planning to delay his state’s April 4 Democratic primary until June 20, and other delays could follow.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Author: Marisa Schultz