Former President Donald Trump’s enduring popularity among his supporters was on full display during a town hall-style forum hosted by Fox News on June 1.
The event, held in Clive, Iowa, saw a fervent crowd of Trump fans, who cheered and applauded when host Sean Hannity predicted that most of them would vote for Trump in the upcoming Republican primary.
Hannity, known for his close ties to the former president, raised the question of Trump’s confrontational style, asking why he felt the need to resort to name-calling and brash behavior. Hannity inquired if Trump ever considered toning down his rhetoric.
In response, Trump asserted, “I won an election. It was unprecedented… and from the day I got in [office], I was under siege… If I wasn’t tough, I wouldn’t be here right now.” The crowd erupted into sustained applause, affirming their appreciation for Trump’s tenacity.
Hannity emphasized the enthusiasm of the audience, describing their turnout as “massive, incredible, enthusiastic.” He noted that despite adverse weather conditions with rain, thunder, and lightning, Trump’s supporters eagerly attended the event in hopes of hearing him speak and potentially asking him a question. However, due to time constraints, only two audience members had the opportunity to pose their queries during the live broadcast. Hannity assured the crowd that additional audience questions would be recorded for future broadcast.
The stark contrast between Trump’s Fox News appearance and his recent town hall on CNN was evident. While the CNN event also featured Republican voters who leaned towards supporting Trump, the moderator, Kaitlan Collins, frequently interrupted the former president, leading to contentious exchanges. Hannity took a jab at CNN, stating, “Unlike ‘fake news’ CNN, it’s not my job to sit here and debate the candidate. We’re going to ask him about the issues of the day that actually matter to the people.”
Here are the key takeaways from the town hall interview and the two audience questions:
Veterans lament the absence of Trump: The first question came from a veteran named Mike, who wore a Trump T-shirt with the words, “Do you miss me?” Mike, a user of the Veteran’s Administration (VA) medical services, expressed concern about the lengthening wait times for appointments since Trump left office. Trump attributed the problem to the system being allowed to break.
Economic concerns dominate: Another audience member queried Trump about his plans for fixing the economy. In response, Trump highlighted the adverse impact of inflation, which he referred to as a “killer of countries” and a “cancer to a country.” He advocated for increasing oil production to reduce energy prices and subsequently alleviate overall inflation. Trump criticized the current state of the economy, citing the significant rise in gas prices, which stood at $1.87 per gallon or even lower during his presidency, in contrast to the current national average of $3.57 per gallon.
Trump’s tax cuts and farmer subsidies praised: The audience enthusiastically applauded Trump’s tax cuts and $28 billion in subsidies provided to farmers, funded by tariffs on Chinese imports. Trump expressed bemusement at the growing field of Republican candidates, questioning why some were entering or continuing in the race despite low polling numbers. He cited polling data showing some candidates pulling only 1 percent of the vote. Trump dismissed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s suggestion that it would take two terms to resolve the nation’s issues, asserting that he could achieve substantial progress in just six months.
Trump’s restrained criticism of Biden: Although Hannity brought up President Joe Biden’s embarrassing fall at an Air Force Academy graduation, Trump revealed that he had advised Hannity against mocking Biden’s physical condition. Trump and Hannity both highlighted polls indicating Trump’s strong chances of defeating Biden compared to other Republican candidates. Trump criticized the protective treatment Biden received from