CNN hosts townhall with Donald Trump


Will Lanzoni /CNN

President Trump townhall with CNN

Mitchell McIntosh, contributor

A Republican presidential primary townhall was held by CNN at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire which is the first state to vote in the Republican Primary with frontrunner former president Donald Trump taking questions. CNN This Morning host Kaitlan Collins was the moderator for the event.

The first question asked to Donald Trump was “Why should Americans put you back in the White House?” Mr. Trump responded, “Because we did fantastically, we got 12 million more votes than we had in 2016, got the most that anyone has ever gotten as a sitting president of the United States.

Trump doubled down on his position that the 2020 Election was rigged. He was asked by the moderator to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 Election. He refused to do so, and he sparred with the moderator over this issue. Trump claimed that there was video evidence of ballot boxes being stuffed in cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

The moderator responded that these claims have been heavily debunked by election officials including those coming from within the Republican Party. Trump also stated that the country is “Going to Hell” and cited reasons such as the withdrawal of the US Military from Afghanistan which he referred to as “the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country” as well as the ongoing crisis at the border with Mexico, and inflation.

The first question asked by an undeclared voter was “Will you suspend polarizing talk of election fraud during your run for President?” He responded, “Yes and I hope that it is going to be straight up and if it is straight up, we will win.” Trump and the moderator continued to scuffle over the results of the 2020 election which they thoroughly disagreed on.

When asked if he regretted anything about the January 6th, 2021, Capitol Riot, he responded that he wasn’t involved in it very much and he was just there to make a speech. He blamed Nancy Pelosi for turning down his offer to deploy the National Guard to provide security for the Capitol. Miss Collins, the moderator, pointed out that his defense secretary at the time Chris Miller testified that Trump never gave such an offer.

Trump responded that Miller never said that. Trump and Collins continued to squabble over the January 6th Riot. Trump maintained that he asked his supporters to remain peaceful. Collins continued to press Trump on why it took so long for him to tell his supporters to leave.

When asked if he would pardon the January 6th rioters, Trump said that he probably would pardon a large portion of them but not the ones who were “out of control” in his words.

Trump claimed that there is a double standard of justice in the United States because rioters coming from Antifa and BLM were not punished for destruction that they caused in Minneapolis and Portland in his point of view.

When asked about the verdict that he was liable for sexually assaulting columnist E. Jean Carroll in 1996 Mr. Trump said that it was a “fake charge” in response. He claimed to have never met Ms. Carroll and that he has no idea who she is. Trump called it a “rigged deal” and that said he has no regret not testifying in the proceedings. Trump also referred to Ms. Carroll as a “wack job” as he continued to reiterate his innocence in the matter.

When asked about the first thing he would to do make things more affordable he responded, “Drill baby drill” in reference to oil drilling. Trump blamed the decrease of domestic oil drilling and the reliance on foreign energy for inflation.

Trump claimed that the United States had the best economy in the world prior to the Covid Pandemic. When asked about the USA’s debt situation, Trump said, “We are spending money like drunken sailors.” Trump added that he believed that USA should default on its debt.

When asked the recent mass shootings that have plagued the country and the Second Amendment, Trump responded, “It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s the person and we have to protect the Second Amendment.” Trump said he would add more security to schools and consider arming qualified teachers.

When asked how he would appeal to women voters who are concerned about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Trump said that he believed in exceptions for instances such as rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is in danger. When asked if he would sign a federal abortion ban Trump dodged the question and said he would, “Do what is best for the country.”

When asked about immigration and border security Trump said that Title 42 should not have ended, and that the influx of migrants is “destroying the country” in his opinion. When asked about separating families at the border Trump said, “If you say that to a family they won’t come.”

When asked about continued military aid to Ukraine in their fight against Russia, Trump said that if he was president the Russian invasion of Ukraine would have never happened.

Trump blamed the European Union for not giving their fair share of aid to Ukraine and “taking advantage” of the United States. Trump claimed that if he is elected that he will settle the conflict within 24 hours. When asked if he still respected Russian President Vladimir Putin Trump responded,

“He made a tremendous mistake going in.” When asked if he considered Putin a war criminal he said, “That is something to be discussed later because first we have to get a war stopped. Right now, we have to get that war settled.”

When asked about taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, Trump claimed that he didn’t do anything wrong and that previous presidents also have taken classified documents. Trump accused President Joe Biden of taking 1800 classified documents.

Collins pointed out that the previous presidents returned the classified documents they took. Trump claims he went by the Presidential Records Act, but the moderator contended that the act does not give him that authority. When pressed on why he ignored the subpoena for the documents Trump took a dig at the moderator by calling her a “nasty person” during their exchange.

The last question asked was if Trump would commit to accepting the results of the 2024 Election. He said, “Yeah if I think it’s an honest election, I would be honored to. If I don’t win this country is going to be in big trouble.”

The town hall ended with Trump still refusing to accept the results of the 2020 Election and leaving the moderator unsure if he would accept the results of the 2024 Election if he were to lose. Despite their multiple heated exchanges Trump and Collins shook hands as they both departed the stage to the applause of the audience.