CNN’s Kaitlan Collins played host to Donald Trump this week in New Hampshire at what was billed as a voter town hall. CNN is trying to get some attention as the network’s rating are in the dumps and decided to host the event with Trump. Collins hammered Trump from the left while a handful of voters got to ask him questions. Trump had some good moments and talked about the economy and the conflict in Ukraine, where he believes he could do a better job, both to get the economy going and the inflation down as well as ending the conflict in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Trump also continued with his obsession about the 2020 election and that it was rigged, and he pledged to pardon most of the January 6 defendants. Trump does not seem to be able to move away from these issues and it will most likely hurt him in a possible 2024 election.
Trump does need more media attention given that he has been frozen out by Fox News and some other more conservative outlets. He is remarkable the same and has not tuned down his aggressive approach and is not trying a smoother message. The style is still more or less chaotic and familiar with the story line we have seen since 2016. The event also came after a New York jury found him liable for sexually abusing the writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store in New York City for almost 30 years ago. With Trump though, the show must go on in a crash and burn fashion.
Here are some key takeaways from the CNN event:
Trump can’t let the past go and move on. He rehashed debunked claims of ballot-box stuffing and voter fraud and he went on and on about this. While this may be music to the ears for his most loyal base, general-election voters and independent have likely hoped to move on from 2020.
The crowd likes Trump. In the mostly republican audience, they are really embracing him, and he has a genuine connection with the crowd. This will ultimately lead to him taking charge of the republican primaries and make him the republican candidate in 2024.
Trump thought it could be a good idea if the U.S. would default as a result of the debt ceiling debate between republicans and democrats as expenses at some point will have to be reduced. The spiral of increased debt must stop. That message will resonate with some more conservative republicans and will strengthen this approach in the negotiations. The chances of an actual default next month, which economists warn would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S., may just have ticked up.
Over the course of the past few months, Trump has said that Russia would have never invaded Ukraine if he were president and if he is returned to office, he will negotiate a settlement in Ukraine within 24 hours. Trump also refused to say who he would like to prevail in the Ukraine conflict. It is clear that Trump does not share Biden’s obsession to expand NATO eastwards. While some republican officeholders and the Biden administration may pledge continued support for Ukraine, it is increasingly clear that a second Trump presidency would mark a decided shift in U.S. policy.
For conservative evangelical voters, on of Trump’s most notable achievements as president was appointing Supreme Court justices who ultimately reversed Roe v Wade abortion protections. When it comes to abortion, there is no answer that will make everybody in the U.S. happy. With Biden on the other side, the conservatives will prefer Trump for sure.
Overall, it was a pretty good evening for Trump, but he needs to let 2020 go. The thought of having Biden and Trump in a 2024 rematch is really scary and shows the decline of U.S. politics. There must be better candidates, but at this point it looks like those candidates will have to wait until 2028.