Trump swipes at NY during presidential debate

President Donald Trump speaking at Republican debate in 2015
President Donald Trump speaking at Republican debate in 2015
Joseph Sohm
President Donald Trump speaking at a Republican debate on December 14, 2015 in Las Vegas.

Trump swipes at NY during presidential debate

During the first presidential debate, the president compared New York to a “ghost town.”
September 29, 2020

President Donald Trump has a proclivity for taking aim at his Democratic former home state whenever the opportunity presents itself and the first presidential debate was no different.

During his debate against former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night, Trump insinuated that New York’s Democratic leadership is responsible for its battered economy and an increase in crime. He also pointed to the state’s inability to count absentee ballots in a timely fashion to sow fear and misinformation about absentee balloting nationwide. 

While discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economics, Trump made the bold claim that the state’s distancing restrictions have irreparably harmed New York City’s economy.

“It’s so sad what they’ve done in New York, it’s like a ghost town,” Trump said. “I’m not sure it can ever recover,” he continued. “People want their places open.” 

The president has encouraged the reopening of the economy, despite concerns from public health experts, throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s strange for Trump to assume New York’s suffering came from the efforts that finally slowed the coronavirus outbreak, rather than the severe outbreak itself and a lack of federal aid – something Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have been asking the president for since April.

The president also argued that crime has gone up in Democrat-run cities, singling out New York, saying that its crime rates have increased by “100 to 200%,” alluding to the city’s recent spike in violent crime. The city has seen a 103% rise in shootings, as of last week. But what the president declined to mention was that Republican-run cities have also seen a spike in violent crime.

While discussing the use of absentee ballots, Trump argued that mail-in ballots in the city have not been counted properly and led to a fraudulent victory for Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “Take a look at what happened in Manhattan, they’re losing 30-40% (of absentee ballots). It’s a fraud. It’s a sham,” Trump said.

Daniel Dale, a fact-checker for CNN, was quick to point out that there has not been any evidence of fraud in Maloney’s election. However, the president wasn’t wrong about the haphazard manner in which absentee ballots have been sent out or tallied in the city. Just hours before the debate, numerous New Yorkers were raising concerns after receiving absentee ballots that did not have their correct name or address.

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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