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Five Takeaways From Trump’s Unruly CNN Town Hall

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Donald Trump is still Donald Trump.

His 70-minute stage in New Hampshire was a vivid reminder that the former president has only one speed and his second act mirrors his first. He remains a celebrated performance artist and remains at the center of American politics even after leaving public office.

CNN’s decision to give him an unfiltered primetime platform, despite persistent attempts by host Kaitlan Collins to cut off or correct his statements, has led to a 2016 campaign. was a call back.

Trump has been so focused on the debate and his own defense that he has barely touched on Biden’s record, but those close to him want the president to pay attention. But when it came to his biggest potential rival, he acted with discipline.

Here are five points.

If viewers expected Trump to have recovered from the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, he has once again abruptly proven otherwise.

Collins’ first question was about Trump’s refusal to accept his 2020 losses and his false allegations of wrongdoing.

“If you look at that result and what happened during the election, unless you’re a very stupid person, you’ll know what’s going to happen,” Trump said, adding that the election he lost was “rigged.” rice field. ”

Trump has since said he has a “tendency” to pardon “many” of the mobs arrested in the Capitol storming by pro-Trump mobs on Jan. 6, 2021 during the certification of President Biden’s electoral vote. His avoidance of explicit promises pleased those close to him.

He also carried a list of his Twitter posts and remarks from that day — that was his idea, according to people familiar with the plan. When Collins asked what he had been doing during the hours of violence, he lied about not doing anything that day. He also said he had no obligation to apologize to Vice President Mike Pence, whose life was threatened by the mob.

As time went on, Trump took what happened at the Capitol more and more and incorporated it into his campaign. He was no exception on Wednesday night.

“It was a great day,” he said of January 6th.

It was a reminder that, at least for Republicans, accepting the deadly violence of that day no longer counts as a disqualification. Trump’s team privately said they were pleased with how Trump handled the enormous amount of time he spent at City Hall after the election.

It was like a sitcom laugh track, with the audience periodically interrupting on behalf of Trump. It gave him momentum in the room and on the television viewer’s screen, choking Mr. Collins who tried to interrupt him by repeating facts and corrections.

No matter how vulgar, profane, or politically incorrect Mr. Trump was, New Hampshire Republican supporters audibly ate through decades of showman stupidity.

He would pardon “most” of the January 6 rioters. applause.

He ridiculed E. Jean Carroll’s detailed rape accusation as a “backstage handkerchief” hoax. Laughter. That’s despite a jury in New York this week finding Carroll guilty of sexual abuse and defamation, awarding him $5 million in damages.

He calls Carol “a silly job.” applause and laughter.

It undermines using the debt ceiling because “I’m not the president.” Let’s laugh more.

The cheers revealed the current mentality of Republican supporters eager to confront the press, Democrats and anyone who stands in the way of the Republican takeover.

For Collins, it was a tough sled ride like an athlete playing an away game in enemy territory. She had to contend with the crowd and her candidate at the same time.

“You’re mean,” Trump said to her at one point, echoing a line he used to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The town hall format feels like a formula for Trump, who has used it to play both the incumbent Republican nominee (who was repeatedly called “Mr. President”) and an outsider. , reproduced the situation of the past two election campaigns.

President Biden’s team had switched Air Force One TV from CNN to MSNBC when they returned home from New York Wednesday night. But that didn’t mean his political team wasn’t watching the City Hall rollouts closely and cheering along with the Republican audience.

Trump has defended January 6 as a “great day.” He hailed the Roe-Wade reversal as a “great win”. He did not say whether Ukraine wants to win the war with Russia. He spoke again about how the rich and famous get their way. “Women let you do that,” he said. And he has not ruled out the possibility of reimposing one of the most inflammatory and divisive policies of his presidency, deliberately separating families at borders.

Trump’s responses were well received on the floor, but all could be reflected in Democrats’ messages within the next 18 months.

Late Wednesday, the Biden campaign already sees Trump securing positions that would undercut the kind of swing voter support that Biden won in 2020, which segments will soon turn to digital advertising. I was starting to think if I could.

Shortly after the event ends, Biden tweeted. “Do you want to continue for another four years?” read. I was asking for a donation. It was also a reminder of how much Trump is likely to be a part of Biden’s 2024 campaign.

Trump is perhaps one of the Republicans most responsible for the Supreme Court ruling that overturned last year’s Roe v. Wade case. He appointed three of the court judges to move the majority opinion. But he has privately blamed abortion politics for Republicans’ underperformance in the 2022 midterm elections, and has been cautious in the first few months of the 2024 presidential election. .

Before heading to City Hall, his team spent a good deal of time polishing up the answers to the questions he expected to be asked. “Do you support a federal ban? And in how many weeks?”

His repeated evasions and euphemisms were hard to miss on Wednesday.

“It was incredible for prolife to get rid of Roe v. Wade,” he began.

It was as specific as he could understand it. “It’s an honor to be able to accomplish what I did,” he said, a line Democrats had warned could soon become the stuff of future advertising, and that it was a “great win.” ‘ was said.

Trump’s Republican rival Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida, giving Trump a stake in an issue that could resonate with evangelical voters. Trump didn’t mention DeSantis until more than an hour into the event, and only after being prompted by voters. “I think people should relax and be calm and think about the future,” Trump said.

While refusing to say whether he will sign the federal ban, Trump has tried to radicalize the Democrats and promised to support immunity from rape, incest and maternal life. “What I do is negotiate to make people happy,” he said.

“I want to give him one more chance,” Collins urged.

He dodged one last time. “Make a deal that will get you good results,” he said.

One of Trump’s most heated exchanges with Collins is that Trump had hundreds of presidential records, including more than 300 classified personal documents, at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, after he left office. It was about a special prosecutor’s investigation. office.

And that was the area where he faced his biggest problems.

“I was there, I took what I took, and it will be declassified,” Trump said, leaving the Oval Office and being sent to the United States despite contradictions from his own former officials. It has claimed that it has a standing order to automatically declassify documents that have been declassified. presidential residence.

“I had the right to do that and I wasn’t keeping it a secret. You know, the box was outside the White House and people were taking pictures of it,” Trump said. implied that people were somehow aware that it contained presidential and classified documents (which they did not).

Of great interest to Special Counsel Jack Smith, Trump specifically ruled out whether he showed people classified material that investigators are questioning witnesses about, especially in relation to maps containing classified information. I’m not going to.

“No way,” he hedged, adding, “I would have the right to do so.” At another point he declared, “I have the right to do whatever I want with them.”

He also defended his call with the Georgia secretary of state, saying he was trying to “find” enough votes to win. “I didn’t ask him to find anything,” Trump said.

Few issues have worried the Trump campaign and the former president more than the documentary investigation, and Mr. Trump put it on the face and in his words on the stage in New Hampshire.

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