Donald Trump had a very good night last night on CNN. If you love him, you’re going to agree with me. If you hate him, like all the CNN commentators who trashed their own town hall in a wonderful example of media self-immolation by a network that basically nobody watches, then you probably won’t agree with me.
If you’re in the middle somewhere, I think you’d be very interested in his strong grasp on policy, his steady demeanor and his sense of humor even while he was under assault from host Kaitlan Collins. Even if you don’t agree with him on everything, I still think middle-of-the-roaders would at least have grudging respect for Mr. Trump and how he handled himself.
I mean, the CNN host had particularly bad manners with constant interruptions, but Mr. Trump handled her very well and, by the way, I didn’t like all the “gotcha” questions on the 2020 election, January 6 and court cases, but she had a right to ask all that. I just don’t think she had a right to interrupt constantly, and that’s what she did, but Mr. Trump, it’s not his first rodeo and he had the strong backing of the Republican and independent crowd at St. Anselm College — really got out a lot of important policy opinions. I want to begin with this sound and what I think was perhaps his absolute best moment in the town hall.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: If elected president again, what is the first thing you would do to help bring down the cost to make things more affordable?
LIBERALS RAGE OVER CNN’S ‘DISGUSTING’ TRUMP TOWN HALL: ‘THIS INSANITY SHOULD BE PULLED OFF THE F—ING AIR’
TRUMP: Drill, baby, drill. We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other nation — any other nation — and these stupid fools ended it. We created the greatest economy in history. A big part of that economy was I got you the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country, bigger than the Reagan cuts, bigger than any. And also, Kaitlan, also, as you know, we got the biggest regulation and regulatory cuts. This place was rocking.
Home run, Mr. President! Drill, drill, drill. Cut taxes. Reduce regulations. Economic prosperity. If you stick with this agenda, right there, just the way you put it, maybe expand a little bit on what a second term would look like to enhance your prosperity agenda, and you stay on message, I believe you will return to the White House, but of course, there’s more in this town hall.
Given the catastrophic chaos at our southern border that everyone is witnessing as Joe Biden’s open-borders policy ends Title 42 at midnight tonight. Here’s what Mr. Trump had to say.
TRUMP: We have open borders. Look at what’s happening on our southern border. Millions and millions of people are coming here. They’re being released from prisons. They’re being released from mental institutions and we have millions of people pouring into our country, and now they’re getting rid of Title 42, which I put on, which kept people out. I built a wall. I built hundreds of miles of wall, and I finished it and then I said we have to build some more.
Then, even while Ms. Collins continued to badger Mr. Trump about January 6, he finally had this to say:
COLLINS: Do you have any regrets about your actions on January 6?
TRUMP: Well, I offered them the National Guard. I said, we’ll give you soldiers, we’ll give you the National Guard, we’ll give you whatever you want. On January 5, the day before, I said, “Please support our Capitol Police and law enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. We want no violence. Remember, we are the party of law and order. Respect the law and our great men and women in blue.” Thank you. That was at 2:30.
He actually had receipts to show he gave those videos and speeches. There’s two other points I want to make. Donald Trump is a superb negotiator. So, for example, when Ms. Collins kept asking about abortion, or Vladimir Putin, or who should win the war in Ukraine, or the debt ceiling, Mr. Trump tried to explain to her that you negotiate these things. Now is the time to stop the killing in Ukraine was his key point. Then later, sure, you can go after Putin as a war criminal, but first, stop the killing.
If there were to be a national abortion law — which he has not yet specifically favored — the point he made was that ending Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court gives the pro-life people a vastly stronger negotiating position to come up with a law or policy that would have widespread support.
That’s what negotiation is all about, bringing parties together. Or, on the debt ceiling. Not for one minute does Mr. Trump want a default, but what he tried to explain is the art of the deal: the art of negotiating, using a debt default as a negotiating tool. Threats matter. I watched him do it with China in the trade talks. I watched him do it with any number of issues, large and small.
One of the many troubles with Joe Biden is he has no idea how to negotiate. He doesn’t use negotiations as a policy tool. For among various reasons, he hardly ever shows up and when he does show up, he’s barely copacetic. Trump, on the other hand, is a brilliant negotiator. It was part of his trade craft when in private business.
By the way, as a young man when I worked in the Reagan administration, I watched the Gipper negotiate brilliantly, remembering that he was actually the president of the Screen Actors Guild union and also honed his negotiating skills while a spokesman for GE. Please, stay on message, Mr. President. Make America great again, again.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the May 11, 2023, edition of “Kudlow.”
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