President Trump failed to impress African Americans who asked him important questions on health care, race, immigration and the coronavirus pandemic at a town hall Tuesday night (August 15) .
In ABC News’ “The President and the People,” event, which took place in Philadelphia with a sparse audience of masked and socially distanced uncommitted voters, Trump answered a series of their questions, but likely did not convince them that he was the better presidential candidate based on his responses.Joni Powell, a Black woman from Pittsburgh who had reportedly never voted before asked Trump about his treatment of the spread of COVID-19.
“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?” she asked.
Trump said that he actually “up-played” his response saying that it was “very strong” saying that when he banned travel from China and Europe it prevented deaths. “So that was called action, not with the mouth, but an actual fact. We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on,” Trump said.
However, the moderator, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, noted that there were holes in the ban, and that the European ban came only a month after the one for China.
But the most emotional moment came when Alycee Block, an assistant professor from Philadelphia who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. She said she was born with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that afflicts multiple organs, which qualifies as a pre-existing condition under the Affordable Care Act. When she asked if the provision to take care of pre-existing conditions would be removed, Trump began to answer the question, to which she responded, “Please stop and let me finish my question, sir. Should that be removed? Within a 36 to 72-hour period, without my medication, I will be dead.”Trump was silent.
“I want to know what it is that you’re going to do to assure that people like me who work hard, we do everything we’re supposed to do, can stay insured,” she said.
Trump first criticized President Obama, saying his promise of being able to keep one’s own doctor was a lie, then said pre-existing conditions would be protected under his administration but wouldn’t be without him. That’s exactly what we’re talking about. We’re going to be doing a healthcare plan very strongly and protect people with preexisting conditions.But Stephanopoulos interrupted, saying that the ACA, or Obamacare — which Trump attempted to repeal — guaranteed that people with pre-existing conditions could purchase insurance at an affordable rate with a package of essential benefits and no lifetime limit on them.“Obamacare was a disaster. Obamacare is too expensive, the premiums are too high. It’s a total disaster,” said Trump, remarking that he ended the individual mandate in Obamacare. “You’re going to have new healthcare, and the preexisting condition aspect of it will always be in my plan.”“But you haven’t come up with it,” said Stephanopoulos.Philadelphia pastor Carl Day, who said he voted for Jill Stein in the 2016 election, questioned how Trump’s ubiquitous slogan “Make America Great Again” and called it “tone deaf” when it comes to African Americans.“The conditions of the drugs, the guns and everything else that actually created the symptoms for what we see that you professed to be just Democratic cities in themselves,” he said, pointing out that Trump has not addressed racial issues in America. “We have not been seeing a change, quite frankly under your administration, under the Obama administration, under the Bush, under the Clinton, the very same thing happening, the very same system, the cycles continue to ensue.”Trump replied that he hopes there’s not a race problem. “I can tell you, there’s none with me, because I have great respect for all races, for everybody. This country is great because of it,” he said, later accusing the Obama/Biden administration of presiding over large income inequality.But he still downplayed the social gaps between Blacks and whites. “Well, I mean, there was a gap but we were doing a good job. It was getting better, and then it was artificially shutdown by this disease that came onto our land,” he said.
Later, Day told ABC News that he remained uncommitted, but that he would not be voting for Trump.
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