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Key takeaways from President Trump's CNN Town Hall 

During the event, Trump, 76, reiterated that his third bid for the presidency will be very similar to his other two times

CNN Town Hall with former President Donald Trump
CNN Town Hall with former President Donald Trump | CNN screenshot

May 11, 2023 8:48am

Updated: May 11, 2023 8:48am

Former President Donald Trump participated in a CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday, as he seeks to win the 2024 Republican nomination. During the event, moderated by anchor Kaitlan Collins, Trump, 76, reiterated that his third bid for the presidency will be very similar to his other two times.

Trump addressed the potential sovereign debt default that the nation could face after the U.S. hit the debt ceiling set by Congress this January. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the country could default as soon as June 1 if the debt limit is not addressed. 

“If they don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default,” he said, adding that a default was better than if the government continued “spending money like drunken sailors.” 

Trump avoided responding to questions about abortion, including whether he would introduce a federal abortion law or the timeline of when an abortion could be considered illegal. He said that the overturn of Roe v. Wade last year was “a great victory,” but recognized the splits within the GOP on the issue. He added that he supports abortion exemptions in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is threatened. 

The former president also did not clarify his position regarding the war in Ukraine, but he did promise to bring an end to the war in “24 hours” if elected.  

“I don’t think in terms of winning and losing,” he said, “I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people.”

He added that he thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a mistake” by invading Ukraine. Yet whether Putin is a war criminal is something that “should be discussed later.”

The former president also denied the accusations made by writer E. Jean Carroll, a day after a jury found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming her. Caroll filed the lawsuit Last November, claiming that he had raped her in 1996. 

“This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is,” Trump said before brushing off other questions about how the verdict might affect his supporters’ opinion of him. On the contrary, he said it was helping his poll numbers. 

On another subject, Trump said he was “inclined to pardon” many of the January 6 rioters who were convicted. He added that he would not be able to pardon every one of them, “it will be a large portion of them.” 

When asked about immigration, Trump said he would tighten immigration restrictions, similar to the measures he took when he was president. Under his “zero tolerance” policy, migrants would be deterred from coming to the country by breaking up families at the border, he said. 

“When you say to a family that if you come, we’re going to break you up, they don’t come,” Trump said.

Trump is currently leading the Republican presidential primary, with 43% of Republican voters choosing him for the party’s nominee, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Experts believe that his biggest opponent will be Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not officially launched his presidential bid.