KEY POINTS

  • Donald Trump took to Twitter to defend his Tuesday town hall performance, during which he struggled to answer policy questions and was fact-checked repeatedly
  • Fox called the event an "ambush," claiming bias from the organizer, ABC
  • Trump supporters agreed, but most Twitter users reacted to his claims with derision and confusion

At an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia this week, President Trump appeared to struggle with attendees' questions and answers, drawing criticism for his performance with the election less than 50 days away.

On Thursday, Trump was ridiculed on social media after he claimed his appearance received "great reviews."

The appearance initially drew some surprise, as Trump has often avoided speaking outside of the right-wing media ecosystem or interact in public settings with undecided voters as he did Tuesday.

He repeatedly fumbled basic questions about his own policies, deflecting back to talking points he’s comfortable with such as China or attacking Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump was also often corrected by moderator George Stephanopoulos after making false or misleading claims. 

Donald Trump says a vaccine may be available within a month -- an acceleration of his own optimistic predictions Donald Trump says a vaccine may be available within a month -- an acceleration of his own optimistic predictions Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

Stephanopoulos had touched on data on COVID-19 death rates after Trump asserted that “we’ve done a tremendous job, actually,” noting that the U.S. only has 4% of the world’s population but 20% of the fatalities. Trump responded by saying that “we have a very big country, a lot bigger than most countries” and “we have 20% of the cases because we do much more testing. If we didn’t do testing we wouldn’t have cases.”

Some on social media tried to make sense of the terms he was using such as “excess mortality,” but many saw them simply as errors.

When asked about health care, Trump repeated that repealing Obamacare would not remove protections for Americans with preexisting conditions and that he had a complete health care bill “all ready.”

Stephanopoulos reminded Trump that he has repeatedly said he would release his health care bill but is yet to deliver.

The overall performance drew widespread ridicule. Many commentators reacted to his assertion of “great reviews” simply with images and videos of laugher. Some were more direct in their criticism of Trump's response.

However, Trump did draw some support.

Fox News characterized Stephanopoulos' efforts to have Trump answer questions from voters as an "ambush." Some on social media supported Trump's performance in the town hall.