Trump on ABC News town hall: Trump on why there wasn’t a national COVID-19 shutdown

The president said “I think we could have had two million deaths” if he didn’t institute travel bans. He said COVID-19 “is going to disappear.”
6:10 | 09/16/20

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Transcript for Trump on ABC News town hall: Trump on why there wasn’t a national COVID-19 shutdown
on covid, we've got Johnny right here, she's from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And you actually haven't voted before. Hello, hi. My question is, if you believe it's the president's responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low income families and minority communities? Yeah. Well, I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I upplayed it in terms of action. Did you not admit to it yourself? Yeah, because what I did, with China, I put a ban on, with Europe, I put a ban on. We would have lost thousands more people had I not put a ban on. We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on, whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important. So, we saved a lot of lives when we did that. There are holes in the ban and the European ban didn't come for another month. Well, they were Americans. The holes were, if you have somebody in China that's an American citizen, we had to let them in. Some people said, well, once it got going, they said, that is really a heavily infected place. And weapon had a case where we had a lot of Americans, they were probably -- they probably had covid and we're saying, do we let them into our country? We let them in very carefully, we quarantined them, but we let them in. They we allowed certain people in, it's true, but they were American citizens. I want to move onto some other subjects, but we are still dealing with 195,000 deaths in the United States right now. When you see that, when you think about that, does that give you any pause, does it make you think, is there anything I could have done differently? I think we could have had 2 million deaths. So, you regret nothing? I think we did a great job. If we didn't close the country -- look we created, I created, we all created together, you helped everybody. The fact is, we created the greatest economy in the history of theworld. Best employment numbers for African-American, asian-american, hispanic-american, women, everything. The best -- high school, no high school, college. We had the best economy we've ever had. 160 million people, almost, just short of 160 million people. We were never close. And somebody comes in and then somebody else, doctors, and they start talking about the pandemic and about closing, they want to close up country. I said, wait a minute, we have the greatest country, the greatest economy and it was coming together, even in terms of unity, because it was so successful that people that weren't getting along were starting to get along, George, that's the way we solved that problem, but we had the greatest economy ever and we have to close it. If I didn't close it, I think you'd have 2 million deaths instead of having the 185, 190, it's a terrible number. Many experts say if we had more mitigation earlier on, there would have been fewer deaths. George, I was so far ahead of my closing and I'll give you an example. When I closed at the end of January, Joe Biden was talking about, in March, about, it's totally overexaggerated. Nancy Pelosi was standing in the streets of chinatown in San Francisco late, a month, more than a month after that, saying, this thing's totally exaggerated, come, you know, to try to build up tourism. And all of -- You were saying it's going to disappear. It is going to disappear. It's going to disappear. Not if we don't take action, correct? No, I still say it. It's going to disappear, George. We're going to get back. We're not going to have studios like this, where you have all of this empty space in between. I want so see people, you want to see people. I want to see football games. I'm pushing very hard for big ten, I want to see big ten open, let them play sports. But no, it's going to disappear, George. We have to be prepared for -- we have to hunker down. We have to be prepared for a possible second wave. I understand that you don't want to panic people. You said you want people to be calm. You've talked about Winston Churchill and fdr and they did reassure people. They were strong. They did keep people calm. But they also were straight. They said, this war is going to be tough, it's going to be a real fight. When Churchill was on the top of a building and he said, everything's going to be good, everything's going to be -- be calm. And you have the Nazis dropping bombs all over London, he was very brave, because he was at the top of a building. It was very well known he was standing on buildings. He say us, everyone's going to be safe, I don't think that's being necessarily honest. And yet I think it's being a great leader. But he said, you're going to be safe, be calm, don't panic. And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London. So, I guess you could say that's not so honest. But it's still great leadership. So you think it's okay to be dishonest? I'm not looking to be dishonest. I don't want people to panic. And we are going to be okay. We're going to be okay. And it is going away. And it's probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it's going to go away a lot faster. It would go away without the vaccine? Sure, with time. And many deaths. And you'll develop a herd mentality. It's going to be herd development and that's going to happen. That will all happen. But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly. Got to take a quick break. But I really believe we're rounding the corner and I believe that stronger. As you know, Dr. Fauci disagrees with that. A lot of people do agree with me. You look at Scott atlas, you look at some of the other doctors from Stanford, look at some of the other doctors, they think maybe we could have done that from the beginning. I think we did it exactly right. We closed it up, now we're opening and we're opening up to a super V, because the numbers are fantastic. The employment numbers. You look at -- we hired 10.4 million jobs in four months. That's a record by far. We have every record. Retail sales are through the roof. We have every record. We did the right thing. If we didn't close it up, I believe we'd have 2 million, 3 million deaths.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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