A focus group of Republican voters, speaking with CNN after former President Donald Trump’s live town hall, got right to the point when pressured to answer why Trump continued to ‘lie’ about the results of the 2020 election.
Jonathan Lesley, who voted for Trump twice, shot back at the forum’s moderator, saying “You guys asked him the first question at the town hall about the 2020 election rather than current stuff.”
Throughout the hourlong event, CNN host Kaitlan Collins attempted to pin down Trump with repeated questions about his 2020 electoral loss to President Joe Biden rather than asking him about plans for his reelection campaign.
President Trump and the liberal network have had a contentious relationship over the years, and he used Collins’ line of questioning to effectively cast his own narrative about lawsuits, investigations, and perceived wrongdoings by former allies. The audience, made up entirely of Republican voters, was vocally supportive of Trump’s claims that he won the 2020 election, a topic Collins started the night with and repeatedly brought up.
CNN has faced heavy criticism for its decision to host the president, not only from media prognosticators but from within the ranks as well. “It was a complete disaster,” one CNN employee told POLITICO Playbook, arguing that the format — specifically, stacking the audience with Trump supporters who cheered his lies — was a “strategic error.”
The former president, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024, has seen a succession of positive developments for his campaign in recent weeks even while facing prosecution on multiple fronts. When asked Wednesday night whether of jury’s decision to award damages against him in an alleged rape trial disqualifies him from running, Trump bragged, “My poll numbers went up.”
Since March, the former president has also faced 34 felony charges from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg who is arguing the president violated business and campaign finance laws in an attempt to disguise a $130,000 payment made to an adult film star.
Since then, President Trump has seen his polling numbers shoot up among likely GOP voters.