Donald Trump’s ABC New Town Hall Turned Into A Denial Of COVID-19, Race & Rage – Deadline

“Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it,” Donald Trump told an ABC News’ town hall tonight of his response to the deadly coronavirus. “I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action,” the incumbent added, citing his bans on some travel to and from China and Europe this spring. “My action was very strong.”

“Whether you call it ‘talent’ or ‘luck,’ it was very important, so we saved a lot of lives when we did that,” the former Celebrity Apprentice host went on to boast at Tuesday’s socially-distanced event in Philadelphia with George Stephanopoulos – as you can see in the clip below:

Answering the question from voter Joni Powell about the ravaging of minority communities by COVID-19, Trump’s version of the health crisis tonight is directly contrary to what he told Rage author Bob Woodward on tape earlier this year of the global pandemic. “I wanted to play to always play it down,” Trump said to the All The President’s Men co-author on March 19, just as America was going into a lockdown that POTUS called unnecessary. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump added in widely reported remarks.

Leading the world with over 6.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, America has suffered almost 200,000 deaths from the disease. “I think we did a great job,” Trump said later in the town hall, claiming it could have been much worse if not for his actions – a POV that many scientists and politicians of both parties disagree with.

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“It’s going to disappear, George,” an agitated Trump didactically proclaimed of the coronavirus. “We’re going to get back – we’re not going to have studios like this, where you have all of this empty space in between,” the Emmy-nominated reality TV front man added. “I want to see people, and you want to see people. I want to see football games. I’m pushing very hard for Big Ten, I want to see Big Ten open – let the football games – let them play sports. But no, it’s going to disappear, George.”

“It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it,” the poll-sagging Trump pledged in what can most politely called a moment of political magical thinking

Recorded earlier this afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love, the 9-10:30 PM ET broadcast sit-down with Bill Clinton’s ex-wunderkind saw 21 undecided voters grilling a clearly uncomfortable Trump. Or put another way, that’s eight less voters than the highly contested Florida has electoral votes and one more than the battleground Keystone State

In another departure from reality, Trump rejected the notion that there is a racial divide in America, even as he and his campaign has been trying to exploit just such division. “Well, I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump replied to voter Pastor Carl Day who pointed out his Make America Great Again mantra “pushes us back to a time in which we cannot identify with such ‘greatness.” Trump continued: “I can tell you there’s none with me because I have great respect for all races — for everybody. This country is great because of it.”

As he has often in the past, Trump then veered back to how great the economy was doing before the coronavirus and its economic fallout cast the nation into the worse financial conditions in modern history. Trump also doubled down on the dog whistling that has characterized his increasingly single-issue law and order re-election bid.

“I can only say this, that the police in this country have done generally a great job,” he said in an increasing manic monologue after being asked about brutality and racism that saw the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by law enforcement and the recent shooting of Jacob Blake.

“There are crimes, there are problems, and there are chokers,” Trump said, while almost as aside admitting that the deaths of Floyd and Taylor were “tragic events.”

“They choke under pressure,” Trump went to justify police violence “I mean, they have one quarter of a second to make a decision, and sometimes they make a wrong decision, and that’s a terrible thing,” he continued of so-called “bad apples” on police forces.

“But you have 99 percent great people. I know the police forces very well. I think almost every one of them, if you look, I’ve been endorsed by so many of them. And these are great people.”

The display made it obvious tonight that Trump had no intention of putting a moderate face forward in the increasingly close election. Always a showman rather than a statesman, Trump seemed more interested in giving ABC News and Stephanopoulos train wreck TV than giving undecided voters a reason to cast their ballot for him.

When asked about well sourced reporting of derogatory remarks he supposedly made about U.S. military personnel and veterans, a visibly agitated Trump denied, denied and called The Atlantic article and others “fake news” with “made up quotes. Heavily criticized as unfit for office by his ex-Defense Secretary, his ex-Chief of Staff and his ex-National Security Advisor, among others, Trump tonight, as he has before, called the men he once highly praised as “disgruntled ex-employees.”

When asked by another voter of color about attacks on health care access and Obamacare’s pre-existing condition clauses, Trump turned the topic on to a false assertion that the Democrats have “socialized medicine,” which drew on-air fact checking from Stephanopoulos. Noting how the Trump administration is trying to “strike down the whole law” of Obamacare at the Supreme Court with no significant replacement legislation or plan despite repeated promises, Stephanopoulos’ facts were met with Trump meekly contending that he “has it all ready.” – as you can see in the clip below

The location of tonight’s town hall at Philly’s National Constitution Center was no mere backdrop. Trump’s win in Pennsylvania in 2016 was a shock to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and most Democrats. Both Trump and his Pennsylvania-born rival former VP Joe Biden were in the state last week to visit the Shanksville Memorial for the 19th anniversary of 9/11. With over 35 years under his belt as a Senator from neighboring Delaware, Biden currently holds a nearly 10-point lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, though that is expected to tighten in coming weeks as the duo meet for a trio of live debates.

Speaking of Biden, while the Disney-owned news division say they offered the Democrats’ Presidential nominee a town hall too, but “ABC News and the campaign were not able to find a mutually agreeable date.” On the other hand, Biden will be appearing on CNN on September 17 for a town hall of his own with the AT&T-owned cabler newser’s Anderson Cooper.

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