Trump claims he 'played UP' the coronavirus after bombshell admission he 'played it down' - and says it will 'go away WITHOUT a vaccine' - after diabetic man challenges him at town hall

President Donald Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus during a town hall meeting that aired Tuesday night – including from a former supporter who asked him why he threw 'people like me under the bus.'
'Yeah, well I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action,' Trump said early in the town hall program broadcast on ABC. 
Trump was responding to a direct question from a voter at the event in Philadelphia, where a series of uncommitted voters challenged him with pointed questions on the virus, race, policing and immigration. 
The primetime special was the first of its kind in this election cycle and the first time in many months that Trump has come into contact with undecided voters. It was held in a virtually empty venue, with the small number of questioners the only audience, some of whom kept their masks on when they spoke.
It was moderated by George Stephanopoulos and saw Trump pressed repeatedly - both by questioners and by the GMA anchor - on his handling of the pandemic, race relations, and crime.
'If you believe it's the president's responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,' the voter, Ajani Powell, a woman from Pittsburgh asked. 
Later, asked if he had any regrets, he said: 'No, I think we did a great job.'
Trump's response came days after Bob Woodward's book 'Rage' revealed Trump telling the author in a March 19 that he played down the virus to avoid 'panic.'
'I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic,' the president told Woodward, in an interview captured on tape.  
President Donald Trump faced tough questions from voters at an ABC town hall in Philadelphia that aired Tuesday night
President Donald Trump faced tough questions from voters at an ABC town hall in Philadelphia that aired Tuesday night
Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016
Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016
Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will 'go away'
Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will 'go away'
Host George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on his administration's legal efforts to throw out Obamacare and his claim last year that he would produce a health care plan
Host George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on his administration's legal efforts to throw out Obamacare and his claim last year that he would produce a health care plan
Trump faced tough questions on his handling of the pandemic in a key battleground state he won in 2016
Trump faced some tough questions from the get-go, including from a man named Paul Tubiana who said he voted for him in 2016. 
'I'm a conservative, pro-life and diabetic. I've had to dodge people who don't care about social distancing and wearing face masks,' he said – after Trump held rallies with mask-less supporters in the West.
'I thought you were doing a good job with the pandemic response until about May 1st. Then you took your foot off the gas pedal. Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' he asked. 
'Well, we really didn't, Paul,' Trump responded.
'We've worked very hard on the pandemic. We've worked very hard. It came off from China. They should have never let it happen,' he said. 
Interviewer George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on past statements that the virus would 'go away.'
'It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it's going to go away a lot faster with it,' Trump told him.
'It would go away without the vaccine?' Stephanopoulos asked him.
'Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away,' Trump responded.
'And many deaths,' Stephanopoulos told him, as the nation approached 200,000 of them due to the coronavirus. 
'And you'll develop – you'll develop herd -- like a herd mentality,' Trump said. 'It's going to be – it's going to be herd-developed, and that's going to happen. That will all happen,' he said. 
'If you believe it's the president's responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,' Ajani Powell, a voter from Pittsburgh, asked.
'If you believe it's the president's responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,' Ajani Powell, a voter from Pittsburgh, asked.
Participant Laura Galvas asks about police brutality
Participant Laura Galvas asks about police brutality

In other remarks, Trump quoted comments from disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci early in the pandemic amid a shortage of protective gear – then noted that 'some people' say not to shut down businesses to spread disease transmission.
'But whether it's Dr. Fauci or anybody else, a lot of people got it wrong. They talked about don't wear masks, and now they say wear masks. Although some people say don't wear masks,' Trump said.
'I mean you have a lot of different ideas. Some people say just leave it the way it is and don't do any shutdowns, and other people say do shutdowns,' he said. 
Another questioner told him: 'The wearing of masks has proven to lessen the spread of COVID. Why don't you support a mandate for national mask wearing?'  
'And a good question is, you ask why Joe Biden -- they said we're going to do a national mandate on masks,' Trump said, referencing a comment Biden made weeks ago about what he might do once in office after consulting experts.
'He's called on all governors to have them. There's a state responsibility,' said Stephanopoulos. 
'Well no, but he didn't do it. I mean, he never did it,' Trump said. 
'I don't want to drive our nation into a panic. I'm a cheerleader for this nation. I'm the one that closed up our country. I closed it up long before any of the experts thought I should -- and saved hundreds of thousands of lives,' Trump claimed. 
Trump also fielded a question from a woman who has sarcoidosis and said each year she pays $7,000 plus copays. 
'From the day I was born, I was considerable uninsurable. That disease started in my skin, moved to my eyes, into my optic nerves, and when I went to graduate school, into my brain,' she said.
She told the president: 'And should preexisting conditions -- which ObamaCare brought into -- brought to fruition be removed  ... within a 36 to 72-hour period, without my medication, I will be dead.'
When Trump tried to interject to say it would not be removed, she told him: 'Please stop and let me finish my question, sir.'
'We are not going to hurt anything having to do with preexisting conditions. We're not going to hurt preexisting conditions. And -- in fact, just the opposite,' Trump said.
'If you look at what they want to do, where they have socialized medicine, they will get rid of preexisting conditions,' Trump claimed. He did not note, as the questioner did, that Obamacare established protections for those with preexisting conditions. 
Stephanopoulos jumped in to confront him: 'Number one, Joe Biden ... ran against Medicare for All in the primaries,' Stephanopoulos said.
'But much more importantly, Obamacare guaranteed people with preexisting conditions could buy insurance, guaranteed they could buy it at the same price as everyone else, guaranteed a package of essential benefits, guaranteed that insurance companies couldn't put a lifetime limit on those benefits,' Stephanopoulos said.
He also noted that the Trump administration was in court seeking  to strike down the Obamacare law, which includes the preexisting conditions protections. 
Trump pushed back claiming that he had a plan, after Stephanopoulos reminded him: 'I interviewed you in June of last year, you said the healthcare plan would come in two weeks.
'I have it all ready – I have it all ready,' Trump said.
'You've been trying to strike down preexisting conditions,' Stephanopoulos said.
'It doesn't matter, I have it all ready, and it's a much better plan for you – and it's a much better plan,' Trump responded, in reference to the woman. 
Trump flew back and forth from Washington for the event and enjoyed a Philly cheese steak on the way home aboard Air Force One. Trump posted an image of the meal, reminiscent of his famous taco bowl image from his 2016 campaign.  
Trump claims he 'played UP' the coronavirus after bombshell admission he 'played it down' - and says it will 'go away WITHOUT a vaccine' - after diabetic man challenges him at town hall Trump claims he 'played UP' the coronavirus after bombshell admission he 'played it down' - and says it will 'go away WITHOUT a vaccine' - after diabetic man challenges him at town hall Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:21 Rating: 5

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