Trump still stuck in 2020 and other takeaways from his CNN town hall

Donald Trump is still walking like it’s 2020.

It’s been well over two years since Trump lost the last presidential election, but we might as well still be drinking Tiger King and washing our groceries.

During a CNN town hall packed with New Hampshire voters looking to compete in the state’s first GOP presidential primary, audiences seemed to side with Trump more often than with Kaitlan Collins, the network’s host, who were in favor led to an unwinnable battle to scrutinize Trump in real-time – the former president seemed frozen in time.

Even Trump’s insults to presenter Collins, calling her a “bad person” for her fact-checking, were reminiscent of the insults he used against other women. During a presidential debate in 2016, he called his then-opponent Hillary Clinton a “bad woman.”

The event made it clear that Trump has no intention whatsoever of refining his approach to attract the votes that have clearly eluded him in 2020. He’s still eager to speak out on unpopular topics and pretend he’s already the Republican nominee, despite the swelling Republican primary field and the opposition he’s likely to face soon from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis .

Here are the takeaways from a 2024 Bizzaro town hall.

Trump in 2024 is very much Trump in 2020.
Trump in 2024 is very much Trump in 2020.

Trump acted like he was already the Republican nominee

Aside from a mention or two of DeSantis — whom Trump anointed with the awkward moniker “DeSanctimonious” — the former president didn’t talk much about his potential opponents, undermining the idea that City Hall was for the primary.

Even as polls show Trump having a solid lead as the primary begins, he is acting as if his main opponent is currently President Joe Biden, ignoring stated or likely Republican rivals who may rise next year. These include former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Trump also spent relatively little time taking action against Biden, although his campaign released a statement claiming that Trump had “set out his vision to reverse Biden’s decline.”

Trump alluded to the polls showing he defeated his closest rival, DeSantis, after Collins asked him if his recent defeat in writer E. Jean Carroll’s civil lawsuit, which accused Trump of rape, could see him lose votes . “My poll numbers just went up,” Trump said to audience applause.

Trump keeps talking about unpopular topics

City Hall didn’t go well for CNN. But that doesn’t mean things went well for Trump.

While the former president refused to give a straight answer to a federal abortion ban — “I will negotiate to make people happy” — he credited the unpopular reversal of the Roe v. Wade through the Supreme Court, setting a new tone for Democrats when he called it a “great victory.”

Republicans face a delicate line after the 2022 midterm election and subsequent special election showed the backlash to abortion legislation was far more violent than expected. Polls consistently show a majority of the country is upset about Roe’s reversal, a decision Trump made possible by appointing three Supreme Court justices that shattered decades-old precedent.

Trump and the rest of the Republican presidential election are in a difficult position: they must court conservative evangelicals in the presidential election while not taking an extreme position that would anger moderates in the general election.

The former president has yet to soften any of the previous positions, which voters also find ridiculous. He opened City Hall with a paean to the 2020 election and his persistent lie that they were stolen, deflected blame for the Jan. 6 attack and the ensuing violence in the Capitol, and refused to condemn Russia and military aid to Ukraine to grant.

The Democrats were enthusiastic about Trump’s performance. “It’s easy folks,” Biden’s reelection campaign wrote on Twitter, providing a link to donate to the incumbent. “Do you want four more years of this?”

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