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Thomas Gallatin / May 4, 2020

Trump's Town Hall: Quick Reopening, Confident of Vaccine

The president sought to reassure millions of Americans that better days are ahead.

In a unique virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, President Donald Trump fielded questions from Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Foremost on his mind was the China Virus pandemic and the nation’s ongoing reopening efforts.

Trump said he’s “very confident” that a COVID-19 vaccine will be developed “by the end of the year.” While many health experts estimate the timeline for a vaccine to be many months if not years away, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently expressed hope that it could come sooner, stating this past weekend that a vaccine by January was “doable if things fall in the right place.”

Underscoring the devastating nature of the pandemic, Trump stated, “There’s no win here.” He then soberly predicted that the number of Americans killed by the coronavirus could reach “anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people.” However, he asserted that without the decisive action taken by his administration, “the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five. That’s the minimum.”

The plight of the 30 million newly unemployed Americans has clearly weighed heavily on Trump, and he spoke in solidarity with Americans protesting what they view as overly restrictive state orders. “A lot of people want to go back. You see demonstrations all over the country — and those are meaningful demonstrations,” he said. “Now we have to get it open. We have to get it open safely, but we have to get it open as quickly as possible.”

It was clear by the title of the town hall — “America Together: Returning to Work” — that Trump believes we must move forward with opening back up, albeit on a state-by-state basis. “I think you can really have it both ways. I think a lot of people wanna go back,” he asserted. “But you also have some people that are very scared. Probably everybody’s scared when you get right down to it.” But, he continued, “There are other people that are scared about being locked in a room and losing their job and not having any income. … These are workers. These are people that wanna get back and work and make a living, and they’re afraid their job’s not gonna be there. And at a certain point if you keep it [shut down] too long, that’s gonna happen. So I understand that very well.”

He also took aim at one of his biggest foils, the Leftmedia. “I’m standing up there and instead of a normal question, [reporters convey] anger and hatred. I’ll look at them, I’ll say, ‘What is your problem?’” Trump pointed out how the Leftmedia called him xenophobic when he restricted travel from China only to turn and admit it was the right move. Yet the Leftmedia criticism only continues unabated, so he takes it on directly.

Speaking of China, Trump blamed the ChiComs for misleading the world with COVID-19. “I think, personally, they made a horrible mistake,” he said, “and they didn’t want to admit it.” He laid into the World Health Organization as well, calling it a “disaster.” He elaborated, “Everything they’ve said was wrong. And they’re China-centric. They agree with China, whatever China wants to do. So our country, perhaps foolishly in retrospect, has been paying $450 million a year to the World Health Organization. And China’s been paying $38 million a year. … So I’ll have to make a decision on that.”

Meanwhile, a payroll tax cut will be a condition for the fourth stimulus package. Trump asserted, “The Democrats want bailouts for the states. But we’ll be doing infrastructure, and … we are not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country.”

Finally, in an obvious campaign pitch to the nation for his reelection, he predicted that 2021 would be “a phenomenal economic year.” Every American should certainly hope so.

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