President Trump spoke with undecided voters Tuesday night.
The President that has commonly held rallies with roaring supporters, as recent as last week in Nevada.
The Nevada rally went against local official’s health warnings, CDC guidelines, and Nevada social distancing recommendations to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. There was local pushback, but the rally went on indoors with most attendees not wearing masks or socially distancing.
Tuesday the President faced a different kind of pushback, the kind that comes from undecided voters asking direct questions expecting direct answers.
President Trump appeared at an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia and touted his accomplishments, including his dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke softly, but the material was straight from a Donald Trump rally where his loyal base emphatically cheers but was it the kind of response to sway undecided voters?
The President received questions about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, race relations, and health care. President Trump appeared sympathetic and cordial, but his answers sometimes felt to lack depth or even directly answer the undecided voter’s question.
When asked about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump said he did a “tremendous” job, and yet again insisting “it’s going to disappear.”
When asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask, the President responded “a lot of people think masks are not good.” Asked who said masks aren’t good, Trump replied, “Waiters.” Say he’s seen waiters play with their masks, and then touch plates and “that can’t be good.” He then said “herd mentality” would make it go away, in an apparent reference to herd immunity that medical experts say could cost several million lives.
The President then shifted towards his November opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. He cited Biden’s verbal slips as evidence that he lacks the mental capacity to be President. The President also said that Biden, who is not President of the United States, had not followed through on a national mask mandate, culminating his statement with saying the United States had “the best response to coronavirus” denying any blame for how the pandemic has turned out — placing the entire responsibility on China, where the virus first emerged.
The President was asked by a voter named Ashley West to cite the most difficult part of his presidency, the President reflected on his own personal sense of loss. “I learned that life is very fragile. I knew people that were powerful people, strong people, good people, and they got knocked out by this and died. Six people. It was five until about two weeks ago. Now, it’s six,” Trump said. And when it came to the audio’s released by Bob Woodward of the President contradicting his public statements the President answered “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I, actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”
As tough as the subject of COVID-19 was, the President seemed most exacerbated when discussing his alleged comments that captured or killed military men and women as “suckers” and “losers”.
Another point that Trump seemed disinterested in fully discussing was race relations. The President quickly shrugged off questioners who asked him if he agreed America needed to reexamine its painful history on race, again arguing that there were a few “bad apples” in the police force who “choked” in incidents in which unarmed Black Americans were killed.
The President also claimed the Democrats wanted to remove protections for patients with pre-existing conditions introduced under Obamacare, as his own administration is currently arguing a Supreme Court case trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act that would remove pre-existing conditions protections for Americans.
The town hall certainly offered voters some material to consider and set up the next major event in the election season, when President Trump debates former Vice President Biden on September 29.