However among the most intense exchanges centered on the pandemic that has now killed near twice as many People because the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan mixed, shuttered many companies, put hundreds of thousands out of labor, saved tens of hundreds of thousands of college youngsters house this fall and devastated households throughout the nation. With simply seven weeks till the Nov. 3 election, the virus is one among Mr. Trump’s largest political vulnerabilities, with simply 35 p.c of People approving of his dealing with of it in a ballot launched this week by ABC and Ipsos.
One man on the Tuesday night time discussion board, who described himself as “conservative, pro-life and diabetic” and mentioned he forged a poll for Mr. Trump 4 years in the past, pressed the president about his determination to reopen American society final spring earlier than the outbreak was beneath management, resulting in a resurgence of infections and deaths within the subsequent months.
“I assumed you had been doing an excellent job with the pandemic response till about Could 1,” the voter informed Mr. Trump. “You then took your foot off the fuel pedal. Why did you throw susceptible folks like me beneath the bus?”
“Effectively, we actually didn’t,” the president replied, pointing to efforts by the administration to offer medical gear like ventilators and to develop therapies and a vaccine. “We’re beginning to get superb marks.”
Requested by Mr. Stephanopoulos why he initially praised President Xi Jinping of China for his dealing with of the virus whereas he now blames the Chinese language chief, Mr. Trump prompt that he soft-pedaled any criticism at first to be able to protect a brand new financial settlement. “We simply completed a commerce deal,” he defined. Then he indicated that it was as a result of he was not educated on the time in regards to the risks of the virus. “So I didn’t say something dangerous about President Xi initially, as a result of no person knew a lot in regards to the illness,” he mentioned.
The president disparaged the worth of masks in stopping the unfold of the virus though public well being officers have referred to as it essential. “Lots of people don’t wish to put on masks,” mentioned Mr. Trump, who himself nearly by no means wears one in public. “There are lots of people who assume that masks will not be good.”
“Who’re these folks?” Mr. Stephanopoulos requested.
“I’ll inform you who these individuals are — waiters,” he mentioned. “They arrive over they usually serve you, they usually have a masks. And I noticed it the opposite day the place they had been serving me, they usually’re taking part in with the masks — I’m not blaming them — I’m simply saying what occurs. They’re taking part in with the masks, so the masks is over, they usually’re touching it, after which they’re touching the plate. That may’t be good.”