Takeaways from Trump's Town Hall Last Night
President Trump and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden both hosted competing town halls Thursday evening. The two candidates are scheduled for a second and final debate next week in Nashville. Here are some of the key takeaways from Trump's town hall.
Trump's Town Hall on NBC:
The moderator for Trump's Town Hall was Savannah Guthrie of the Today show. The town hall was contentious several times with Trump complaining to Guthrie about her line of questioning.
On the Economy:
Trump touted his administration's work with the economy prior to the pandemic saying, "We had the greatest economy in the history of our country," and that we are on the road to recovery and predicted a rebound in 2021.
While the claims about the "greatest economy in history" are not technically true, (the annual percentage growth under Trump's administration has been 2.48%, a little better than the 2.41% averaged during Obama's second term but not as high as the 4.2% averaged under Reagan's administration), the US had what was considered to be a very robust economy prior to the pandemic.
Trump defended his administration's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, saying his administration's swift actions saved millions of lives and that we would have been much worse off under a different administration.
When questioned about why the US's infection rates are so much higher than other nations (The US currently has about 20% of the world's Coronavirus infections), Trump responded that we were winning in terms of excess mortality and blamed China for the virus.
"On the excess mortality, we are a winner...It happened because of China. And you have to get that and understand that," said Trump.
The US is also responsible for about 20% of the world's Coronavirus related deaths, but Trump is talking about the mortality rate of infected Americans (about 2.7% according to Friday's data from Johns Hopkins), which is lower than some other countries.
Trump also discussed the value of wearing masks saying that the CDC said that "85% of the people that wear masks catch it so...that’s what I heard and that’s what I saw." This is not quite accurate, in a survey of 150 people infected with Covid-19 that was published last month, the CDC reported that 85% said they had worn a mask often or always around the time they were infected. An important note is that the group infected also had typically higher exposure to the community through shopping, living with multiple people and that they were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant than uninfected people in a separate control group. Several studies have shown that, while not foolproof, wearing masks reduces the transmission of the virus by blocking respiratory droplets. The CDC continues to recommend wearing masks in its' guidelines.
When questioned about whether he took the required Covid-19 test before his debate with Biden, Trump deflected and said, "Possibly I did, possibly I didn't."
On QAnon and white supremacists:
Trump refused to denounce the conspiracy group QAnon and instead denied all knowledge of the group, despite having retweeted QAnon material and having acknowledged that the group likes him in the past.
When asked to denounce white supremacy, Trump answered Guthrie directly saying "Are you listening? I denounce White supremacy, what’s your next question?"
After moderator Guthrie responded, "It feels sometimes you're hesitant to do so," Trump went on to say, "Here we go again. My people came, I'm sure they'll ask you the White supremacy question. I denounce White supremacy. And frankly, you want to know something, I denounce Antifa and these people on the left burning down our cities that are run by Democrats who don’t know what they’re doing."
On his Personal Debt and his Taxes:
Trump seemed to acknowledge that he owed money to a foreign bank but clarified that he did not owe any money to Russia or any "sinister people." He also characterized the $400 million in debt, that was reported in a NY Times article, as a "very, very small percentage" of his overall assets.
Trump disagreed with other portions of the NY Times article saying their report that claims he paid very little in federal income taxes for the majority of the last 15 years is wrong and that the IRS has treated him "very, very badly." Trump has been under audit from the IRS for several years.
On a Peaceful Transfer of Power:
Trump agreed, for the first time publicly, to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election but reiterated his concern about it being a fair election.
Said Trump, "And then they talk, ’Will you accept a peaceful transfer? And the answer is, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I want it to be an honest election, and so does everybody else."
Trump has contended that the widespread use of mail-in ballots will lead to increased voter fraud. Historically, voter fraud numbers have been very low, however, this is the first election in which a much larger portion of the population will be using mail-in voting, because of the pandemic. Trump believes this will lead to widespread voter fraud and could thereby affect the outcome of the election.
Photo Source: Youtube.com