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Trump Gets an Earful

2020-09-16 12:50:18

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President Trump doesn’t spend much time with voters who don’t already support him. As The Times’s Maggie Haberman puts it: “Trump, by only doing rallies and almost never doing town hall forums, has been insulated from the kind of voter interaction that usually help incumbents as they’re running. But he craves adulation and many of his aides enable it.”

Last night, though, the president traveled to Philadelphia for a town hall, broadcast by ABC, with voters who identified themselves as undecided. And he heard an earful.

The first question came from a 2016 Trump voter who said he was trying to take the coronavirus seriously and had to avoid people who refused to wear masks: “Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?” the man, Paul Tubiana, asked.

Another voter, Julie Bard, asked why Trump didn’t support a national mask mandate. A third asked why he downplayed the virus. Others asked about racial injustice, Trump’s attempts to take away health insurance from people and his unpresidential behavior.

“I think this is by far the toughest grilling Trump has faced as president,” CNN’s Daniel Dale, who has covered Trump extensively as a fact checker, wrote.

Trump responded with a flurry of falsehoods to defend himself. (Here is a Times fact check.) He blamed Joe Biden for the lack of a national mask mandate. Trump also said, “A lot of people think the masks are not good.” At different points, he downplayed the virus and said that he had “up-played” it.

He claimed he was beloved by South Koreans. (His recent approval rating there was 17 percent.) He said all Americans owned stocks. (About half do.) And he said the late John McCain, a war hero who was known in the Senate as an advocate for veterans, didn’t do enough for veterans.

“This is a president who still hasn’t adjusted to the fact that 2020 is not the year he wanted it to be,” Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report wrote.

The Times’s Trip Gabriel tweeted: “When @JoeBiden debates Trump, he’ll be faced with what’s on display tonight: rapid fire falsehoods, free-ranging personal attacks, over the top claims of his achievements.”

On Fox News, Laura Ingraham described the event as an “ambush” by ABC.

In other campaign news:

  • Yesterday was arguably Biden’s best day of state polls since the Republican National Convention, according to Nate Cohn, a Times polling expert. And a new ABC News/Washington Post poll this morning showed Biden ahead by six percentage points in Wisconsin and 16 points in Minnesota. In 2016, both states were extremely close, and Trump won Wisconsin.

  • In the last state primary of 2020, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat, easily defeated a progressive challenger, Jessica Scarane.

The pandemic can make time feel blurry. The school year is starting, but millions of children aren’t returning to classrooms. Last week, for the first time, all of the four biggest U.S. pro sports leagues — baseball, basketball, football and hockey — played games on the same day. And who even knows what Halloween will look like.

Then there is climate change, which is responsible for a global “season creep.” Frosts come earlier, first snows fall later. Hurricanes stretch out on both sides of the calendar. And, frighteningly enough, fire season is just getting started in the American West. As Paul Elie writes in The New Yorker, “The coronavirus pandemic, together with recurring natural phenomena brought on by climate change, is sharply altering our sense of the seasons.”

How to cope? (Beside, perhaps, looking for ways to combat climate change.) Quartz and Slate both suggested participating in phenology, or the close study of nature’s rhythms. Keep a journal in which you track how the seasons are changing around you. “In so doing, you can anchor yourself in place and be a witness to the way nature is actually responding to change, instead of dwelling on the disasters that might come,” Rebecca Onion wrote for Slate.

Vegetarian and vegan taco fillings aren’t new: You can trace their lineage back through Indigenous cuisines. This past spring, many taqueros in Los Angeles turned to making meatless tacos when the pandemic prompted ingredient shortages and drastic price fluctuations.

There are about 43 quintillion ways to arrange a Rubik’s Cube, but only one that is correct. Since a Hungarian architecture professor named Erno Rubik invented the cube in 1974, more than 350 million cubes have been sold globally.


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