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President Trump participated in an ABC News’ town hall Tuesday evening, taking questions from a well-spaced-out audience and it’s hard not to walk away thinking he was set up by the network.
That was the opinion of Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who said the questions he faced were essentially a reflection of the left’s four-year resistance campaign.
“It was hosted by former Clintonite George Stephanopoulos, but the DNC may as well have put the whole thing on,” Ingraham said.
Stephanopoulos claimed that “some of these people [asking questions] voted for you last time around, some voted for Hillary Clinton,” but you would be hard-pressed to pick out the Trump voters.
Ingraham played a clip of some of the questions posed, ranging from downplaying the pandemic to the detriment of minorities to throwing vulnerable people under the bus, this from a man identified as a 2016 Trump voter.
The question about downplaying COVID-19 came from Ajani Powell, a black student from Pennsylvania.
“If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,” Powell asked.
“I didn’t downplay it. I, actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong,” the president replied, before detailing some of the action he had taken.
“That was called action — not with the mouth,” he said, as he pointed to his mouth, differentiating between words and actions.
Turning to her guest panelists, Ingraham said “the president loves mixing it up with everybody … but this was an ambush.”
“Biden is not going to take any questions like this,” she stressed. “He won’t get any questions like this. So why did the president decide to do this to open himself up to a room full of basically Trump resistance?”
“Well, the president, first of all, did very well,” Trump 2020 pollster John McLaughlin said. “I watched it. He answered those questions and at the end of it, he demonstrated empathy. There was a woman there that lost her mother, she just became a citizen. He was very sensitive and demonstrated empathy with that woman.”
As for Trump’s motivation to do the event, McLaughlin had his own theory.
“I think he’s doing it because he knows Biden is not going to be able to debate so he was debating George Stephanopoulos,” he suggested. “George interrupted his every answer off the bat. You’re right about he does thrive on the challenge and he does do well and most voters who watch this will see it for what it was and it was a win for President Trump. So he did very well.”
Ingraham then ran a clip of Trump addressing police reform.
Pressed on what he would do about the disproportionate number of Black Americans killed by police, Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos, the police "have done generally a great job,” but some “choke under pressure” and “make the wrong decision.” https://t.co/5rferlTBvn pic.twitter.com/DTDWtCMDBD
— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020
She then asked fellow panelist Tom Bevin, co-founder of Real Clear Politics, if that was successful messaging.
“Of course it was a big set-up by George Stephanopoulos,” she said. “Again, it was — he’s debating a moderator, which is a lot of people believe that’s what Trump is going to be doing if these debates actually happen.”
“Right, having the moderators fact check him in real-time and interrupt and say I have to stop you there,” Bevin said. “I thought this was one of his stronger answers in terms of saying he agreed with the woman. He said, you know, these incidents are a problem, we need to make sure they don’t happen again. We have some bad apples we have to take care of. But he made the case for this law and order message he was pushing. So that probably was one of his better answers.”
He went on to note that this wasn’t a “great environment” for Trump.
“The reason he’s doing it — one of the reasons, is because he does need to expand his base. He can’t be preaching to the choir. He needs to reach out to moderate voters in swing states. I don’t know if this was the proper venue for that, given the moderator and the way the questions were posed, but that’s the strategy and what he was trying to accomplish.”
Another good moment for the president is seen below, when he addressed rumors from anonymous sources that he disparaged soldiers killed in action.
Pres. Trump in a special @abc2020 event: "I never made those statements. They were never made by me. They said I stood over the grave of soldiers killed many years ago and I said they were suckers. I never made that." https://t.co/5rferlTBvn pic.twitter.com/muwAkQRMn9
— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020
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