Trump on ABC News town hall: ‘We’ve done a tremendous job’ with COVID-19 response

The president said he saved “hundreds of thousands of lives” with his administration’s COVID-19 response. “I don’t think [our response has] been recognized like it should,” he said.
7:53 | 09/16/20

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Transcript for Trump on ABC News town hall: ‘We’ve done a tremendous job’ with COVID-19 response
And the first one comes from Paul. Take it away. Hi, Paul. Hello. Mr. President, I voted for you in 2016. I'm conservative, pro life and diabetic. I've had to dodge people who don't care about social distancing and wearing face masks. I thought you were doing a good job with the pandemic response until about may 1st. Then you took your foot off the gas pedal. Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus? Well, we really didn't, Paul. We've worked very hard on the pandemic. We've worked very hard. It came off from China, they should have never let it happen. And if you look at what we've done with ventilators and now frankly with vaccines, we're very close to having a vaccine. If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken, perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the fda and all the approvals and we're within weeks of getting it, you know, could be three weeks, four weeks, but we think we have it, Johnson & Johnson, pfizer, great companies and they are very, very close. It's been very -- it's a terrible thing but if you look at, as an example, are you from New York -- where are you from? Originally, from New York. I've lived in Pennsylvania for 18 1/2 years. The longest place I've ever lived. That's good. We built hospitals. New York, we took the convention center, converted it to 2,800 rooms. We brought in the ships. I wish they would have used it, because frankly, they would have saved a lot of people had they used it, but we really are. We are starting to get very good marks. Compared to other countries with the excess mortality rate, we've done very, very well. When you see our testing, we're going to be at 84 million tests, 84 million, think of that. And next would be India with about 50 million less. Our testing program is far greater. I brought this along today, because I think it's -- I think it's something that's really very special. We have a new test, it came out literally today that's just showing you numbers of how well we're doing, relative to other countries. But this is actually a new test, just came out from Abbott. Highly sophisticated, wow Youn't think, it's a piece of really little light cardboard. And this came out and this is a very accurate test and people will be able to have this and they'll be able to test or go, ideally go through a doctor, but it's very simple and very accurate. And we supplied governors, including this state, with equipment like nobody's ever gotten. We were short on ventilators because the cupboards were bare when we took it over. We're now making thousands of ventilators a month. Many thousands. We don't need them in our country anymore. Not one person that needed a ventilator didn't get a ventilator. Everybody got a ventilator. And Paul they're very complex, they're very hard to make, but we're making now tens of thousands a month and sending them to other countries who are in dire need of them. So, I feel that we've done a tremendous job, actually, and it's something that I don't think it's been recognized like it should, but when you look at our testing, when you look at our swabs, when you look at our ventilators, when you look at what we've done with hospitals and we've made a lot of governors look very good and now some are in a shutdown and some aren't. We'd like to see it open up and open up as soon as possible. But we're very proud of the job we've done and we've saved a lot of lives, a tremendous number of lives. Mr. President, let's talk about the mortality first. You said we're doing better in mortality than other countries. Here's the chart right here, it shows the United States is right here, this is number of tests per million residents. Here is Europe, Canada way down there. We're not at the top of the list. The excess mortality rate is among the best in the whole world, George. I mean, I can show you, there's a chart that just came out a little while ago, excess mortality rate is compared to Europe, compared to other places, it's about 25% better. In one case, it's over 60% better. And we also have a very big country, you know, we're talking about a lot bigger than most countries. When you look at testing, just as an example, when India does 40 million less tests than us, they have 1.5 billion people. China, you don't get the accurate numbers out of China, but China, they lost a lot of people -- But we have 4% of the world's population, more than 20% of the cases, more than 20% of the deaths. Well, we have 20% of the cases because of the fact that we do much more testing. If we wouldn't do testing, you wouldn't have cases. Dr. Fauci said we've done a fantastic job. He just said it yesterday. He said we didn't mislead anybody. Now, I'm not going to make people feel like I want to look -- we're the leader of a great country, we want to keep it that way. I don't want to scare people. You're not going to go out and say, oh, this is death, death, death. You have to run a country. We're in a country. We got hit by something very unfairly. What I noticed yesterday, Dr. Fauci said that we were -- we've done a really good job and we didn't mislead anybody. He came out with that statement, which I appreciate, but whether it's Dr. Fauci or anybody else, some people said wear masks, some people say don't. Some people say leave it the way it is and don't do any shut downs and other people say do shutdowns. I have my own views on that. You say a lot of people got things wrong. You mentioned China at the top right there. All through January and February, you were downplaying by your own admission the severity of the cry si, that you didn't want to panic people. Not downplaying. Those are your words. I'm a cheerleader for this nation. I'm the one that closed up our country. Inclosed it up long before any of the experts thought I should. And saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But when I closed it, I put a ban on our country and the ban was a very important ban. I wanted to ask you about China, because -- China was heavily infected -- I read where other people said do it, no people that I saw said do it and I know they said security advisers and others. I put a ban on when it wasn't at all popular. Joe Biden said I was Senn phobic because I put the ban on and I thought that was a very unfair -- and by the way, he's totally taken that back. I want to ask you about China, because at that time, you were actually praising president XI. You said he was transparent, he was strong, he was doing a good job. Did you get that wrong? Did you misjudge president XI? We just finished a trade deal, we just had the largest order of corn in the history of our country last week. The largest order of soybeans and beef. Because they know I'm very unhappy. You said he was doing a good job and now you're blaming China. I'm not saying one way or the other. At the beginning, before anybody knew who I was, I spoke with president XI and he said we are doing it well, we're having it under control and I was very he told me that it was under control, that everything was and it turned out to be not true. Because it wasn't under control. It went all over the world. 188 countries. So, I didn't say anything bad about president XI initially because nobody knew much about the disease. Nobody knew the seniors are susceptible, they thought people would be susceptible. But not just, you know, the seniors are really a very, very susceptible. Especially if they have heart problems.

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

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