WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expressed frustration with last week’s Fox News’ town hall with President Donald Trump, saying the network wasn’t working hard enough to get him reelected.
Grassley told Capitol Hill reporters on Monday that all he wants is for Trump to be reelected.
“I would blame Fox more than I blame the president, because the president, it’s easy for him to digress here and there, but Hannity — you assume Fox wants him to get reelected.”
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Grassley took particular issue with Fox News host Sean Hannity, for not pressing Trump during the town hall to answer a question about his agenda for a second term more directly.
The exchange began when Hannity asked Trump: “What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what are your top priority items for a second term?”
Trump answered by talking about his experience and then moving on to criticize his former national security adviser, John Bolton, without laying out any policy ideas or plans.
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“One of the things that will be really great — the word experience is still good, I always say talent is more important than experience, I’ve always said that — but the word experience is a very important word, a very important meaning,” Trump said, adding that while he was a New York developer, he didn’t know many of Washington’s players and rarely visited the capital.
“Now I know everybody and I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like an idiot like (former national security adviser John) Bolton, all he wanted to do was drop bombs on everybody, you don’t have to drop bombs on everybody, you don’t have to kill people,” the president said.
Hannity never pushed the president for the specifics on a second-term agenda.
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When asked about Trump’s answer, Grassley said, “Okay, so he says what’s your plans for the next four years? So the President starts to answer it. And then digresses a little bit. Hannity should have got him back on the subject. So it’s pretty simple: I just want the president to be re-elected.”
Grassley’s comments follow a tweet over the weekend from the Iowa Republican where he questioned if Fox News wants Trump reelected and suggested the “most important” question to ask centers on “four more years of draining the swamp.”
Does FOXNews want Trump Re-elected?Watched Hannity/Trump interview/KEY QUESTION”What goals in next term?Trump starts answer/gets off point and Hannity helps digress and that’s end of the most important Q to get FOUR MORE YEARS OF DRAINING THE SWAMP &Justices
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) June 27, 2020
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The criticisms from Grassley follow him publicly encouraging Trump to consider the warnings in an opinion piece by the Wall Street Journal editorial board suggesting Trump could serve one term.
“Will somebody w access to the Oval Office read the WSJ editorial ‘The Trump Referendum’ to President Trump,” Grassley wrote in a tweet on Friday. “We won’t hv more good scotus justices or the best economy in 50 years like we hv had if he doesn’t follow that advice.”
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Trump is currently trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in six crucial swing states – all of which Trump won in 2016 – according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Thursday.
The poll found Biden is ahead of Trump 47%-36% in Michigan, 49%-38% in Wisconsin, 50%-40% in Pennsylvania, 47%-41% in Florida, 48%-41% in Arizona and 49%-40% in North Carolina.
With the 2020 election is still more than four months away, those states could help decide the winner.
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Despite the criticism following his answer, Trump touted the ratings from his Fox News town hall, asserting in a tweet that the ratings “are the real polls.”
Do not believe the Fake News Media. Oklahoma speech had the highest Saturday television ratings in @FoxNews history. @seanhannity dominated T.V. with my interview on Thursday night, more than @CNN & MSDNC COMBINED. These are the real polls, the Silent Majority, not FAKE POLLS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020
Grassley said some of the reasons he wanted to see Trump win reelection include “things that he’s done like challenging China” and “getting strict constructionists on the Supreme Court. I want that to continue.”
Contributing: William Cummings
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Grassley scolds Fox News and Trump over answer on second-term agenda