When Trump dismissed writer E. Jean Carroll—who sued Trump for sexual battery and won a $5 million judgment—as the “kind of a woman” who meets someone and “within minutes” is “playing hanky panky” with them in a dressing room, Trump’s acolytes cracked up.
And when Trump, standing several feet apart from CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins, called her “a nasty person” as she tried to elicit an answer from him, the MAGA faithful cheered.
Trump’s barrage of lies proved too much for Collins, who brought a fact-checker’s scalpel to a raucous revival of Kool-Aid drinkers.
As a journalistic exercise, the live town hall was a disaster—a lesson in how not to cover Trump moving forward.
But as a public service announcement to the nation, the event surely succeeded in alerting all freedom-loving defenders of democracy to what we are up against in 2024. It also likely helped Trump solidify his position in the GOP pack, according to anti-Trumper Sarah Longwell, publisher of The Bulwark and host of The Focus Group podcast.
“He probably didn’t do himself favors with any swing voters,” Longwell told NPR of the event, “but he continues to cement his place as the frontrunner in the GOP primary.”
The audible members of the crowd and their reactions, Longwell said, very closely track with what two-time Trump voters tell her in the focus groups she conducts.
“It’s a reminder that a lot of these voters in the Republican primaries are still very much on board with the former president despite all his baggage,” she explained. No matter what Trump has done—or how much he repulses the anti-MAGA majority— “they still have this deep relationship with him.”
Trump and his cultists most certainly present an existential threat to the country, but he is also the force that has repeatedly galvanized pro-democracy voters to defeat him and often the Republican Party he now controls.
CNN’s town hall served as a stark reminder of the dark forces that could easily overwhelm the republic if Trump manages to reclaim the White House in 2024.
Immediately following the event, Joe Biden tweeted out a fundraising appeal positing, “Do you want four more years of that?”
About a half hour later, Biden followed up with a town hall excerpt of Trump praising the “proud” attendees of the Jan. 6 insurrection alongside a sequence of violent cuts from the Capitol attack that day.
“They were there with love in their heart,” Trump says, ” and it was a beautiful day.”
There’s more where that came from during the hour-long event, a veritable treasure trove of attack ad material for Team Biden.
The data is in: Americans don’t like Republican policies on abortion. Kerry is joined by Drew Linzer, the director and co-founder of the well-regarded polling company Civiqs. Drew and Kerry do a deep dive into the polling around abortion and reproductive rights and the big problems conservative candidates face in the coming elections.