COVID, Tax, QAnon: What Trump Answered & Evaded at Miami Town Hall
Trump’s hour-long town hall lacked concrete answers about his policy agenda for the next four years.
Capping weeks of high drama as incumbent US President Donald Trump left the hospital abruptly after testing positive for coronavirus, the president appeared for a town hall at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami to address questions from the audience on Thursday, 15 October (ET).
The town hall comes after the second presidential debate was cancelled over Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, with the president ruling out a virtual second debate suggested by The Commission on Presidential Debates.
However, the decision to hold a competing town hall with Democratic candidate Joe Biden drew flak from the American electorate for not allowing them a chance to listen to both voters, forcing them to choose between duelling candidates.
But what transpired at the town hall? From Savannah Guthrie unrelentingly grilling the president, to Trump finally owning up to his $400 million debt to creditors, here are some key takeaways.
‘When Did You Last Remember Testing Negative for COVID-19?’
Savannah Guthrie kicked off Trump's event by asking him if he had any remaining symptoms of coronavirus and whether he did test negative for the virus at all prior to his Town Hall.
But Trump refrained from giving a clear answer. He said he was unsure whether or not he got tested for the coronavirus the day of the presidential debate, as was required by the debate commission. “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t,” Trump said, adding that he gets “tested all the time.”
When asked about possible pneumonia, he said, “They said the lungs are perhaps a little bit different, a little bit infected.”
“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” said Trump when Guthrie grilled him about herd immunity with reference to COVID-19, and whether the Trump administration's tactic was to let enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.
Herd immunity sees, as a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune.
“We’re a winner,” Trump said, referring to his administration’s handling of the pandemic.
According to data from The New York Times, cases are high and rising in 28 American states; cases are low and rising in 19 states.
Denounce Them, Mr President!
When asked point-blank to denounce white supremacy during the first presidential debate, Trump hesitated and said "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by".
When questioned about it at the town hall, “I denounced white supremacy for years,” Trump claimed, complaining that the media keeps bringing up the topic, painting him in a negative light.
However, when asked to denounce QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, Trump once again refused.
Trump responded, “I know nothing about QAnon."
“I just told you,” Guthrie said.
Trump fired back, saying, “What you tell me doesn’t necessarily make it fact.”
The conspiracy theory movement has had a prevalent presence at his rallies.
A Miami voter asked Trump if his own experience of getting COVID has changed his narrative with reference to wearing a mask.
Trump responded: "No, because I was okay with the masks. I was good with it. But I have heard many different stories about masks."
On ‘Peaceful Transfer’ and Voter Fraud
Talking of voter fraud as he has done several times in the past, Trump claimed that the Obama Administration spied on his presidential campaign.
“They spied on my campaign and they got caught, and they spied heavily on my campaign, and they tried to take down a duly elected sitting president,” Trump said, referring to a theory that has been debunked several times.
Referring to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the upcoming election, Trump said that he would.
The Barrett Question
When questioned about nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and her conservative stance on Roe vs Wade, Trump said he has never discussed how she would vote if it were contested in the Supreme Court.
“I think she will have to make that decision. I don't think she has any conflict at all,” Trump said. “I never asked her about it. I never talked to her about it.”
"I don't want to do anything to influence anything right now,” Trump added, refusing to state his stance on the matter.
That’s a Wrap
Trump’s hour-long town hall lacked concrete answers about his policy agenda for the next four years. Trump also barely addressed his opponent, Joe Biden, during the town hall.
He was, however, pressed by moderator Savannah Guthrie on his coronavirus response, the Supreme Court and immigration.
When asked asked about rebuilding the US economy, Trump said "It's happening."
On the question of healthcare, the president said "I want to give great health care", but is yet to address exactly how.
And on the DACA program, Trump said "we're going to take care of Dreamers," mentioning as he has in the past of merit-based immigration to the US.
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