Thursday night, President Trump participated in a town hall event on Fox News where a wide range of topics were discussed, including the administration’s coronavirus response and on the possibility of Joe Biden becoming the Democratic presidential nominee.

But one question that came up prompted Trump to give an answer that is perhaps most illustrative of how he appears to understand a big reason why he was elected in 2016, and why he’s going to keep on responding to his critics on his terms.

The person who asked the question was Robert Bresnahan, who is the CEO of Kuharch Construction. Bresnahan explained that he was a longtime supporter of Trump’s and thanked Trump for “everything you have done” for the country.

But then Bresnahan pivoted to asking if there was a way Trump’s message could be delivered without “the controversial rhetoric”, in order to “reunite” America at a time when it seems like the country is divided. Here’s how Trump responded (transcribed):

“Well, I have to tell you, I think – I appreciate the question. I think the country is far more united than people think. And ultimately what’s uniting the country is success. And we’re having more success than we’ve ever had. We got hit with the virus really three weeks ago, if you think about it, I guess. That’s when we first started really to see some possible effects. But even despite that, the country, we are having the greatest year. We had – last year was the greatest year we’ve ever had economically. And I think the way we unite is really through success.

But when they hit us, we have to hit back. I feel that. I mean, there’s two ways of doing it. Turning your cheek, but I wouldn’t be sitting up here if I turned my cheek. If I said, okay, let them just keep hitting at me, and I won’t do it, they’re not interviewing me right now. They’re interviewing somebody else. Maybe they won’t even be doing that, because if they don’t get ratings, they don’t interview anybody. That, I’ve learned.

But you know what? You can’t turn your cheek. I mean, we get hit. [Audience applause] Thank you. We get hit so hard. And we have a media that is, I say, to a large extent, it’s a part of the Democrat Party. It really is. It’s terrible. It’s unfair.

I call it fake news. I’ve used that, and people are using that, I guess, all over the world right now, and that’s the way it is. We have to fight back. If we don’t fight back, you won’t be a fan of mine very long. But I appreciate the question. Thank you.”

Watch:

In addition to letting his supporters know that he has no intention of backing down against his political opponents when they come after him, Trump sent another message during the town hall.

It was conducted in Scranton, Pa., which is Joe Biden’s hometown. Trump won the state in 2016, and if history is any indicator, he’s going to aggressively pursue votes in that state and other battleground states around the country again in 2020.

He’s already visited states this year that he didn’t win in 2016, including New Hampshire and Nevada – and he made it a point to visit both those states as well as South Carolina and Iowa on the eves of their respective Democratic primaries and caucuses.

That Trump has a willingness to go straight into liberal lion’s dens and after key Democratic voting blocs that in previous presidential election cycles seemed untouchable to the Republican party is one thing both critics and supporters alike will agree is smart political strategy.

But when it comes to his “controversial rhetoric”, Trump made one thing clear to friends and foes alike last night: You can take it or leave it.

 

 
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