On ABC News town hall, Trump talks pandemic response, race relations and health care

“Actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong,” the president said about his COVID-19 response from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
8:56 | 09/16/20

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Transcript for On ABC News town hall, Trump talks pandemic response, race relations and health care
Tonight, with election day less than 50 days away, president trump found himself in front of a different audience, uncommitted voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania. And for the very latest, we go to Jonathan Karl, who was in the room with the president in Philadelphia. Jon? On balance, this was a pretty good event for Donald Trump. He got to show another side of himself, an empathetic side, talking about the incredible death toll from covid-19. This was something we rarely see from the president. That said, he also said again he has absolutely no regrets for anything about the way he handled the crisis. He wouldn't do anything differently, and he said some things that are sure to generate controversy. During one exchange with a pastor from here in Philadelphia, an African-American pastor, the president said, well, I hope there's not a race problem in America. And he had a back and forth that was very interesting on the subject of race. He also said that he believes the virus would go away, even if there wasn't a vaccine. That's something that I am sure many health professionals will disagree with. But juju, on balance, an interesting town hall, a rare chance to see the president truly interacting with uncommitted voters. Thanks, Jon. Tonight's 90-minute town hall with more questions than answers. At times some have called your behavior not presidential. What if anything would you do differently if reelected. I would like that ask regarding your recent comments about United States soldiers, referring to them as suckers. How do you expect to win back the support of our military, the friends and family and military D's easy, because I never made those statements. All socially distanced in Philadelphia. For the president and the people, a 2020 special. Trump has come under fire four for down playing the virus. I didn't down play it. I actually, in many ways I upplayed it in terms of action. My action was very strong. All through January and February, you were, were you down playing, by your own admission, the severity of the crisis U. Not down playing. But in the early days of covid-19, president trump telling the public that the virus would simply go away, contrary to what health experts believe. It is going to disappear. Not if we don't take action, is that correct. I still say it. It's going to disappear. It's probably going to go away a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it's -- It would go away without the vaccine? With time. A poll showing an overwhelming 65% of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the pandemic with only 35% approving. We're still dealing with 195,000 deaths in the united States. When you see that, does did give you any pause, is there anything we could have done differently. I think we did a great job. Another point of contention, after months of unrest across the country, with protesters calling for systemic change, racial justice and police reform. Philadelphia pastor Carl day confronting the president. You've coined the phrase "Make America great again." Right. When has America been sgrats for African Americans? Are you aware how tone-deaf that comes off to the African-American community? I can say this. We have tremendous African-American support. You've probably seen it in the polls. We're doing extremely well with African-American, hispanic Americans. Despite the president's claim, recent polling shows his support between likely black voters is between 5% and 11%. If you go, I hope there's not a race problem. There's none with me, because very great respect for all races, for everybody. Black Americans more than three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police. And that indicates this isn't just bad apples. This is a real, systemic, endemic problem. Do you believe that? What will you do to address it? They want more police, more protection. They suffer more than anybody else by bad police protection. All minorities, whether it's hispanic or black or Asian. They suffer more than anybody else, George. We have to give, we have to give the police back the authority to stop crime. But how do you stop police killing blacks at three times the rate of killing whites. I can only say this, that the police in this country have done, generally, a great job. There are crimes, there are problems, and there are chokers. Think choke under pressure. They have one quarter of a second to make a decision and sometimes they make the wrong decision. The president side-stepping vashl justice. In light of the killing of George Floyd, do you feel racial injustices are occurring in this nation, and if so is, what can be done to address them? I think they were tragic events. If you look at our police, they do a phenomenal job. My body, my choice! Another issue, health care and specifically, coverage of preexisting conditions. With co-pays, I'm still paying almost $7,000 a year in addition to the co-pay, and should preexisting conditions, which Obamacare brought into, braut to fruition, be removed? No. Without, please stop and let me finish my question, sir. I want to know what it is you're going to do do assure people like me who work hard, we do everything we're supposed to do, can stay insured. It's not my fault I was born with this disease. First of all, I hope are you taken seriously, I hope you are. And we are not going to hurt anything having to do with preexisting conditions. We're not going do hurt preexisting conditions. In fact, just the opposite. If you look at what they want to do where they have socialized medicine, they will get rid of preexisting conditions. If they go into medicare for all, which is socialized medicine, and can you forget about your doctors and your plans, just like you could forget under president Obama. Obamacare guaranteed people could buy insurance, guaranteed they could buy it did he same price as everybody else. Guaranteed essential package of benefits, that there wouldn't be a lifetime limit on those benefits. You fought to repeal Obamacare. I essentially did, because we got rid of the individual mandate. That would do away with -- No, so we can do new health But you've been promising a new health care plan. I interviewed you in June of last year, you said it would come in two weeks. Very it already, I have it already. The You've been trying to strike down preexisting conditions. I have it already, and it's a much better plan for you, and a much better plan. The president trying to close the chapter on the pandemic. Could you have done more to stop it? I don't think so. What I did by closing up the country I really don't think so. I think we did a very good job. I don't know if that's been recognized. We've made a lot of governors feel good. We've made some reputationly, we've enhanced their reputation. They didn't have anything. We got them the supplies, the we've made a lot of people look good that shouldn't look good, to be honest with you. We're out of time, Mr. President, thank you for your time. Thank you very much.

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

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