Thursday’s town hall event in Sandown, New Hampshire was in no way intended as preparation for the second, town hall-style presidential debate on Sunday, according to Donald Trump.
“They were saying this is practice for Sunday. This isn’t practice; this has nothing to do with Sunday,” the Republican nominee told the crowd. “We’re just here because we just wanted to be here.”
That may be a good thing for Trump, given that the cozy event with his avowed supporters bore little resemblance to what the real estate mogul will face on Sunday.
Though the campaign did provide a countdown clock to cut the Republican nominee off after his allotted two minutes, Trump repeatedly exceeded the time limit as he fielded softball questions about his favorite childhood memory and decision to “hold back” during the first debate against Hillary Clinton. Moderator Howie Carr, a conservative radio host, asked what the Los Angeles Times reported were pre-vetted questions from audience members. He also encouraged Trump throughout and ended the event by declaring the Republican nominee “the next president.”
“I like this audience,” Trump said. “I like this audience.”
At Sunday’s event in St. Louis, which will be moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, half of the questions will be asked by undecided voters themselves, Politico reported.
Trump has hosted few town halls on the campaign trail, opting instead for arena-style rallies in which he alternately reads from a teleprompter or breaks off into tangents on whatever is occupying him on any given day.
Still, he brushed off any suggestion that he was preparing for the next presidential debate, even after most political commentators and almost every reliable poll found that Clinton came out ahead in their first matchup.
“I said forget debate prep. I mean, give me a break,” Trump said. “Do you really think that Hillary Clinton is debate-prepping for three or four days. Hillary Clinton is resting, okay?”
“This has nothing to do with Sunday,” Trump claimed at one point. “It’s like they make you into a child.”