On Oct 15, current president Donald Trump and the Democratic front runner Joe Biden held opposing town hall meetings in Florida and Pennsylvania respectively. The original plan was for the second debate to take place between the two, but after President Trump contracted COVID-19, he refused to do a virtual debate, and so the candidates hosted town halls at the same time. Given the fact that the town hall was roughly an hour-long, the following transcription has been shortened for convenience/clarity. There is no fabricated text, and none of the quotes are my own. Any in-text edits have been indicated with brackets. Happy voting, Falcons.
S. Guthrie: Do you have any remaining symptoms from COVID?
D. Trump: “Nothing whatsoever, I’m great, I feel good. I was in North Carolina today and did a big rally with tremendous turnout, and I just feel really good. Florida, Pennsylvania, were- They said, “Let’s go to the hospital.” I said, “That’s okay. I’m going to respond to what you say.” And we went over to Walter Reed, where you have tremendous professionals. They gave me Regeneron and Remdeceiver both. And all I know is I felt good the following day, I felt really good.”
S. Guthrie: Your first positive test was Thursday, October 1st, okay? When was your last negative test? When did you last remember having a negative test?
D. Trump: “Well, I test quite a bit, and I can tell you that before the debate, which I thought it was a very good debate, and I felt fantastically, I had no problems before.”
S. Guthrie: Did you take a test, though, on the day of the debate?
D. Trump: “If you ask as the doctor, they’ll give you a perfect answer. But they take a test and I leave and I go about my business…I probably did, and I took a test the day before and the day before, and I was always in great shape, and I was in great shape for the debate. And it was only after the debate, a period of time after the debate that I said, “That’s interesting.” And they took a test and it tested positive.”
S. Guthrie: Okay. And you don’t know if you took a test the day of the debate?
D. Trump: “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t. But the doctor has very accurate information and it’s not only that doctor, it’s many doctors. The one thing, if you’re President, you have a lot of doctors you’re surrounded by. But I was in great shape for the debate. And sometime after the debate, I tested positive, then that’s when they decided to, let’s go.”
S. Guthrie: Okay, good. I hopefully provided some clarity for folks. Let’s talk about the event that was held at the White House on the Saturday before you tested positive. Subsequent to that, 13 people connected to that event tested positive. There was an outdoor reception, you’ve seen the pictures. There was an indoor reception. People were not wearing masks. My question to you is, at this point in the pandemic, knowing what we know, shouldn’t you have known better? Shouldn’t the White House know better than to hold an event like that?
D. Trump: “Well, they do a lot of testing in the White House, they test everybody including me, but they test everybody. And something happened. But as far as the mask is concerned, I’m good with masks. I’m okay with masks. I tell people, wear a mask. But just the other day, they came out with a statement that 85% of the people that wear masks catch it. [Trump was referring to a Sept. 10 report from the CDC that found that dining out raised the risk of infection more than other social activities]So this is a very-”
S. Guthrie: It didn’t say that. I know that study.
D. Trump: “That’s what I heard, and that’s what I saw. And regardless, but everybody’s tested and they’re tested often. And I also knew that, hey, I’m President. I have to see people. I can’t be in a basement. I can’t be in a room. I can’t be… I have to be out.”
S. Guthrie: Well, there are pictures of Thom Tillis, actually with one of Judge Barrett’s kids not wearing a mask. But you know Chris Christie, he was part of your debate prep…He was, I believe at that event. He came out tonight, he was sick, very sick. He was in the hospital for about a week…He came out tonight and said, “I was wrong not to wear a mask.”
D. Trump: “Well, I mean, he has to say that. I think it’s great, he’s a friend of mine. He’s a good guy. And wrong or not wrong, you have to understand, as President, I can’t be locked in a room someplace for the next year and just stay and do nothing. And every time I go into a crowd, I was with the parents of our fallen heroes. These people are the most incredible people. And they came up to me and they would hug me, and they would touch me, and I’m not to not let them do it, to be honest with you.”
S. Guthrie: Now, there was an event with the gold star families the day after the Supreme Court event.
D. Trump: “There was, exactly right. We had a gold star event with the most incredible people you’ve ever seen. And I could have chosen not to talk to them, or to keep everybody away. And you know what? I don’t think that’s probably where it was caught, but maybe it was…As President, I have to be out there”
S. Guthrie: Well, there’s no one that says you can’t be out there, but it’s just about wearing masks and having… For example, your rallies.
D. Trump: “I know this.”
S. Guthrie: Your rallies don’t require masks.
D. Trump: “I mean, let’s see, Kamala. She’s got people now, people have it, and I’m not blaming her. I’m not saying, “Oh, she did a terrible thing.” As President, I have to be out there. I can’t be in a basement. I can’t be locked in a very beautiful room someplace in the White House. And I want to see the gold star families, and I want to see everybody. And I also say to people all the time, it’s risky doing it. It is risky doing it.”
S. Guthrie: But as President, you’re right. You want to be a leader, but you also are a leader and a setter of an example. And if you’re not wearing a mask when your administration is saying, “Best practice right now is to wear a mask,” no, it’s not foolproof. But that will-
D. Trump: “But many people are catching it. Many people are getting this disease that was sent to us by China, and it shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. But many people are getting this. And I mean, nobody’s being blamed. Everybody is working hard to get this thing out of our country, get it out of the world. Look at what’s going on in Europe, massive spikes. They’ve done a very good job, but now you take a look today at the UK, you take a look at Spain and France and Italy. There are tremendous spikes.”
S. Guthrie: But our death rate is worse than, well, not Spain, but those other countries.
D. Trump: “Well, I have a thing right here that will tell you exactly the opposite…The UK is up 2500%, because I knew you’d be doing this. I know you very well. The UK is up 2500%. The EU is up 722%. And the United States is down 21%.”
S. Guthrie: But we have per… Our deaths per capita is among the highest of all-
D. Trump: “Excess mortality.”
S. Guthrie: I’m sorry?
D. Trump: “Excess mortality, we’re a winner on the excess mortality. And what we’ve done has been amazing. And we have done an amazing job. And it’s rounding the corner and we have the vaccines coming, and we have the therapies coming. And I’ll tell you what, one thing. When I got it, I had a choice. Do nothing, or use some of the things that we’re looking at, like in this case, Regeneron. and Eli Lilly makes something that’s supposed to be incredible. And I think that maybe I wouldn’t be doing this discussion with you right now. We have therapies now and cures, maybe you can use the word cure, but we have therapies that are absolutely incredible, Savannah.”
S. Guthrie: 10% of the country approximately has had COVID. That means 80%-90%, 90%, let’s do the math, is still vulnerable…There’s been some talk, including from the White House lately that perhaps it approves of what’s called herd immunity. That’s where you basically just let young people and everybody gets sick. You try to protect the old people and those who are sick. And hopefully, it gets up to a certain level, and now we’re all immune…So let’s just be clear about it. It also means more deaths. Do you support herd immunity as a strategy? Essentially, just let people get sick?
D. Trump: “The cure can not be worse than the problem itself. We did the right thing. We were expected to lose 2,200,000 people, and maybe more than that. We’re at 210,000 people. One person is too much, it should have never happened because of China. It happened because of China. And you have to get that and understand that. But it shouldn’t have happened. But we were expected to lose, if you look at the original charts from original doctors who are respected by everybody, 2,200,00 people.”
S. Guthrie: The 2 million figure is if you did absolutely nothing, it would be 2 million. The question is, should the deaths be better than 200,000, when-
D. Trump: “I don’t know, let me tell you what is happening. I left North Carolina, which I love. I left Pennsylvania. We won a big case in Michigan because that governor has a lockdown where nobody but her husband can do anything. He can go boating and do whatever he wants, but nobody else can. The fact is we’re winning all these cases because it’s unconstitutional what they’re doing. And I think they’re doing it for political reasons. But the fact is the cure, you can’t let this continue to go on with the lockdowns. And I believe that on November 4th, you’re going to have a lot of these governors…Look at what’s happening to New York. New York is a mess. They lost almost 40,000 people. They have a lockdown like you’ve never seen. Now they’re open, it’s like a ghost town. And Savannah, it’s very important. People are leaving New York by the thousands, and you’re going to have a hard time ever building it up again. So that cure, that so called cure that you talk about, it can’t be worse than the problem. The problem is a bad problem.”
S. Guthrie: let’s drop it, for now. We were supposed to, as mentioned, be watching you on a debate stage right now. We’re not doing that, so let’s clear up a few things from the last one. You were asked point blank to denounce white supremacy. In the moment, you didn’t. You asked some follow up questions. “Who, specifically?” A couple of days later, on a different show-
D. Trump: “Oh, you always do this.”
S. Guthrie: … you denounced white supremacy.
D. Trump: “No, you always do this.”
S. Guthrie: My question to you is-
D. Trump: You’ve done this to me, and everybody-
S. Guthrie: … why does it seem like-
D. Trump: “I denounce white supremacy. Okay?”
S. Guthrie: You did, two days later.
D. Trump: “I’ve denounced white supremacy, for years, but you always do it. You always start off with the question. You didn’t ask Joe Biden, whether or not he denounces Antifa. I watched him on the same basic show with Lester Holt, and he was asking questions like Biden was a child.’
S. Guthrie: Well, so this is a little bit of a dodge.
D. Trump: “So, are you ready? Are you… Wait. Are you listening? I denounce white supremacy…And frankly, you want to know something? I denounce Antifa, and I denounce these people on the left that are burning down our cities, that are run by Democrats who don’t know what they’re doing-”
S. Guthrie: All right, while we’re denouncing, let me ask you about QAnon. It is this theory that Democrats are a satanic pedophile ring and that you are the savior, of that. Now can you just, once and for all, state that that is completely not true, and disavow QAnon in its entirety?
D. Trump: “I know nothing about QAnon.”
S. Guthrie: I just told you.
D. Trump: “I know very little. You told me, but what you tell me, doesn’t necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it. If you’d like me to study the subject. I’ll tell you what I do know about. I know about Antifa, and I know about the radical left, and I know how violent they are and how vicious they are. And I know how they are burning down cities run by Democrats, not run by Republicans.”
S. Guthrie: Republican Senator Ben Sasse said, quote, “QAnon is nuts and real leaders call conspiracy theories, conspiracy theories…Why not just say, it’s crazy and not true?
D. Trump: “Can I be honest? He may be right. I just don’t know about QAnon.”
S. Guthrie: You do know.
D. Trump: “I don’t know. No, I don’t know. I don’t know. You tell me all about it.”
S. Guthrie: Let me ask you another thing.
D. Trump: “Let’s waste the whole show. You start off with white supremacy. I denounce it. You start off with something else. Let’s go. Keep asking me these questions. But let me just-”
S. Guthrie: Okay, I do have one more in this vein
D. Trump: “Let me just tell you. What I do hear about it, is they are very strongly against pedophilia. And I agree with that. I mean, I do agree with that and I agree with it very strongly.”
S. Guthrie: But there’s not a Satanic pedophile cult being run by-
D. Trump: “I have no idea. I know nothing about them.”
S. Guthrie: You don’t know that? Okay.
D. Trump: “And neither do you, know that.”
S. Guthrie: Okay. Just this week, you retweeted-
D. Trump: “Why aren’t you asking me about Antifa? Why aren’t you asking me about the radical left?”
S. Guthrie: Because you just, because you’re volunteering it.
D. Trump: “Why aren’t you asking Joe Biden questions about, why doesn’t he condemn Antifa? Why does he say it doesn’t exist?”
S. Guthrie: Because you’re here, before me.
S. Guthrie: Just this week, you retweeted to your 87 million followers, a conspiracy theory that Joe Biden orchestrated to have SEAL Team Six, the Navy SEAL Team Six, killed to cover up the fake death of Bin Laden. Now, why would you send a lie like that to your followers?
D. Trump: “…that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.”
S. Guthrie: I don’t get that, you’re the President. You’re not like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just-
D. Trump: “No, no. No, no.”
S. Guthrie: -retweet, whatever.
D. Trump: “That was a retweet. And I do a lot of retweets. And frankly, because the media is so fake, and so corrupt, if I didn’t have social media… I don’t call it Twitter, I call it social media. I wouldn’t be able to get the word out. And the word is-”
S. Guthrie: Well, the word is false
D. Trump: “… and you know what the word is? The word is very simple. We’re building our country, stronger and better than it’s ever been before…And that’s what’s happening. And everybody knows it.”
S. Guthrie: Okay, we’ve got a bunch of questions for you.
D. Trump: “You know what else the word is? We’re winning in a lot of states.”
S. Guthrie: Well, let me ask… Okay. I’m glad you brought up the election because I do want to ask about that. That’s another kind of leftover item. A lot of people have asked you, will you accept a peaceful transfer of power? You have said, repeatedly, “The only way we lose this election is if it is rigged.” Now, that is simply not true. The fact is, either candidate can lose fair and square, without ballot fraud.
D. Trump: “Sure, they can. And do you know what?”
S. Guthrie: So, will you accept the results of the election?
D. Trump: “Win or lose, that’s the way I want it to be. But when I see thousands of ballots, right? Unsolicited ballots, being given out by the millions, and thousands of them are dumped in dumpsters. And when you see ballots with the name Trump, military ballots, from our great military. And they’re dumped in garbage cans-”
S. Guthrie: But, we could go all night, one by one. A single case, a single day. You’re talking about 150 million votes. Your own FBI director says, “there is no evidence of widespread fraud.”
D. Trump: “Oh, really? Well, then he’s not doing a very good job. All you have to do is pick up the papers every day. 50,000 in Ohio, the great state of Ohio. 50,000 in another location, I think North Carolina. 500,000 applications in Virginia. No, no, there’s a tremendous problem…But let me just tell you, they talk about the peaceful transfer, right? 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. And then, they talk about, “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. When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can, and they happen to have my name on it? I’m not happy about that.”
1st Voter: Jacqueline Lugo: Mr. President, if you knew COVID-19, as you told Bob Woodward in February-As you told Bob Woodward in February, was airborne and deadlier than the flu, why did you only put in place a travel ban from China, and not put in place other measures mitigating the spread of COVID-19, potentially saving tens of thousands of American lives?
D. Trump: “Well, I did put it in very early, as you know, Joe Biden was two months behind me, and he called me xenophobic and racist and everything else, because I put it in. And it turned out that I was 100% right. I also put it on Europe, very early, because I saw there was a lot of infection in Europe. And it’s sort of an amazing question. And I appreciate the question, and respect the question, but the news doesn’t get out the right answer. Because I put on a travel ban far earlier than Dr. Fauci thought it was necessary. Who I like. Far earlier than the scientists… I was actually the only one that wanted to put it on. And I did it, actually against the advice of a lot of people…”
2nd Voter: Barbara Peña: Mr. Trump, as a frontline ER doctor, working through the coronavirus pandemic-I know firsthand, and I’ve seen that many hospitals throughout the United States, are suffering financial hardships. These economic effects are trickling down to the frontline workers. We are being… Across the country, frontline workers are being fired, they’re being furloughed. Our salaries are being cut, and this is also happening in other economic sectors as well, including the travel industry and hospitality. My question to you is, how are you going to get the United States back on track, both in terms of the economy and the pandemic?
D. Trump: “So, it’s happening. We just set a record, 11.4 million jobs. We are going to have a phenomenal third quarter, which will be announced on November 1st, just prior to the big November 3rd day, where I think you’re going to see a red wave. But we’re going to have a tremendous announcement. I believe. I mean, we’re going to find out, but GDP is going through the roof. Jobs, real estate, houses. So many things are happening.”
4th Voter: Cristy Montesinos Alonso: We’re a hard-working middle-class family of four. My husband and I are both self-employed, and we have to get our own individual healthcare. As you know, healthcare costs have gone up considerably over the decades. And you had originally said you were going to repeal and replace Obamacare. What is your plan now in 2020 to make healthcare costs affordable for Americans like myself?
D. Trump: “Good. So we got rid of the individual mandate on Obamacare, which was the worst part of Obamacare, and now you could actually say it’s not Obamacare because that’s how big it was, where you had to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health insurance, so we got rid of that. That was a big, big thing. And by doing that, and we will always have… By the way, we’re always protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and I can’t say that more strongly, but we’ve been able to bring healthcare costs way down. Now, I took over Obamacare, got rid of the individual mandate, made it good, managed it much better. Remember, they had the $5 billion website disaster and all of the problems they had. The problem with Obamacare, it’s not good. We’d like to terminate it, and we want much less expensive healthcare that’s much better healthcare, and that’s where we’re aiming. And if we can do that, and we have a very good chance of doing it, but we’ve also brought down the price of Obamacare. The problem with Obamacare, it basically is never going to be great, and I want to give great healthcare. So important. And thank you very much.”
5th Voter: Becky Lightman: So corporate tax rates are a hot button issue and you have cut corporate tax rates. And your opponent, Joe Biden, is planning to raise them. A lot of Americans think that corporations don’t pay their share of taxes and want to see those tax rates increase. What do you say to those Americans to maybe tell them why you want the corporate tax rate lower and why that helps them?
D. Trump: “It’s a great question. We’ve created more jobs than this country has ever created. We were up to 160 million jobs. We were never even close to that number. We were just hitting 160 million jobs, companies are pouring into our nation because of the tax rate, and if Biden comes in and raises taxes on everybody, including middle-income taxes, which he wants to do, you will blow this thing, and you’ll end up with a depression, the likes of which you’ve never had. That’s what’s going to happen. We have something that’s really good. The reason we’re coming back so strong is because we built a very strong foundation. Companies are moving in. Car companies are moving into Michigan, into Ohio, into South Carolina, and North Carolina just today, so what’s happening is, they’re coming in because we reduced the taxes. Our taxes, our corporate taxes were the highest in the world, and now they’re among the lower taxes. They’re not the lowest, but they’re among the lowest. And what that means, is jobs, but also we’re doing a very big, and we’ve done a very big, middle-income tax package. So if we get in, we’re going to do the middle-income tax package, but it’s a great question. And if he comes along and raises rates, all those companies that are coming in, they will leave the U.S. so fast your head will spin. We can’t let that happen. Thank you.”
6th Voter: Adam Schucher: Four years ago, Senate leadership said it was inappropriate to push through a nominee in an election year, yet they fast-tracked your nominee for the Supreme Court just today. The question I have for you is, what do you say to the voter that thinks it’s hypocritical to act in that manner and that they can’t trust Republicans’ word?
D. Trump: “So when I was elected, and when a president is elected, they’re elected for a period of four years. And Justice Ginsburg said it best. I think, talking about President Obama having to do with somebody else, that the president is put there for four years, not for three years. So during this fourth year, it happened to come up, unfortunately, because I had great respect for Justice Ginsburg. But a vacancy happened to come up, and we picked somebody that’s outstanding. She has been an absolute star, and I’m extremely proud of it. But again, plenty of time.”
7th Voter: Moriah Geene: Thank you. Good evening, Mr. President. I’m honored to be with you here tonight, sir. So thank you. I’m a pro-life millennial. And my question for you today is, if Roe v. Wade is ultimately overturned in the future, what protections would be put in place or kept for where the mother’s life is in jeopardy in relation to high-risk pregnancies?
D. Trump: “Well, again, I’m not ruling on this. And Roe v. Wade is something that a lot of people would say, obviously, you’re going to speak to somebody. Also two other great Justices, Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Kavanaugh… I never spoke to them about Roe v. Wade. I never spoke to them about election laws. I never spoke to them about anything. And I’ve done the right thing from a moral standpoint. I don’t even know from a legal standpoint, but it was the right thing. I think, depending on what happens with Roe v. Wade, I think that perhaps it could get sent down to the states, and the states would decide. I also think perhaps nothing will happen. I have not talked to her about it. I think it would be inappropriate to talk to her about it. And some people would say, “You can talk to about it.” I just think it would be inappropriate.”
8th Voter: Cindy Velez: As the mother of a young male of color, I have reason to respect authority, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also out of fear that he may face profiling or be considered a criminal. As an educator, I’ve also had similar conversations with my high school students. Mr. President, what will you and your administration do to better prepare our law enforcement officers to work in collaboration with the communities that they serve and also to protect the lives of innocent Black and Latinos from police brutality and injustice?
D. Trump: “Right. I fully understand the question, and I saw everything that you saw over the summer. And it was a terrible thing, a terrible thing to watch. We have a Senator named Tim Scott from South Carolina. He came up with a bill that should have been approved. It was great. It was a bill that was strong in terms of law enforcement, and strong in terms of enforcing the proper thing, and doing the proper thing by law enforcement. And the Democrats just wouldn’t go for it. They wouldn’t go for it at all. And I don’t know why, because it was a really great bill. But I do have to say this. And some people don’t like it when I say it, but a lot of people agree. I have done more for the African American community than any president. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln. Criminal justice reform, prison reform, historically Black colleges and universities. I got them funded.”
9th Voter: Paulette Dale: Surveys show that most Americans, and the majority of Republicans, support the Dreamers program. So my question for you, Mr. President, is if you are elected to a second term, do you expect to pursue your previous efforts to cut the DACA program?
D. Trump: “DACA is somewhat different than Dreamers. You understand that, and you understand it better than anybody, probably, in this room…So we are going to take care of DACA. We’re going to take care of Dreamer. It’s working right now. We’re negotiating different aspects of immigration and immigration law. We’ve built now, over 400 miles of border wall, southern border. Mexico is working very closely with us. We have the strongest border we’ve ever had. We want people to come into our country. They have to come in legally. But we are working very hard on the DACA program. And you will be, I think, very happy over the course of the next year.”