Trump spars with Collins, dodges questions during controversial CNN town hall


Trump and Collins talk past and upcoming elections at CNN town hall. (Photo by AJ Tamburino)

In his first appearance with CNN since 2020, former President Donald Trump sat down with Kaitlan Collins to discuss hot button political issues. Trump took questions from an audience of prospective New Hampshire Republican and Independent voters, including Saint Anselm College students. This controversial event covered many issues, including election fraud, border security, and foreign affairs. 

The town hall opened with the former president denying his 2020 defeat to President Joe Biden. “I received the most votes anyone’s ever gotten,” Trump said. “It was a rigged election and it was a shame we allowed it to happen.” Trump doubled down on his claims of widespread voter fraud, often steering the conversation back to 2020 in responses to questions that did not relate to the election. 

Despite the lack of evidence, however, Trump still received applause and support from many in the audience when he claimed that the election was stolen from him. As part of this, Trump said he would be “inclined” to pardon those arrested for their actions during the January 6 riots, including four members of the Proud Boys. 

Senior politics major Benjamin Mickens called Trump’s performance “nauseating.” “He talks about the election and January 6 and sort of half answers, contradicts himself, and then blames the media,” said Mickens.

Trump has been in the midst of several legal battles, including over 30 criminal charges of business fraud. Most recently, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation of author E. Jean Carrol, resulting in him having to pay $5 million in damages. Trump denies ever having met the woman and has appealed the ruling. “This is a false story, a made up story,” Trump said to more applause from the audience. 

Marta Saravia ’23 asked Trump his thoughts about the federal debt situation, a crisis that has been looming over Capitol Hill for months. “I believe the Democrats will absolutely cave,” he said. “Deferring on the debt is completely psychological, it may be mad or it may be nothing.” 

Bobby Petrino, a junior politics major, asked the former Commander-in Chief to speak on gun reform and Second Amendment rights. “We have a very big mental health problem in this country. It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger” Trump said. He argued to arm schools, claiming that many school teachers are ex-military and can protect their students because “they love them just as much as their parents do.” 

In response to Kaitlyn Boissoneau’s question of his views on military support for Ukraine, Trump made a bold claim. “If I’m president, I’ll have that war settled in 24 hours,” he said. Despite being asked numerous times by Collins if he wanted Ukraine to win, Trump did not provide a clear answer. He reasoned that it’s not about winning or losing, but stopping unnecessary deaths. 

When asked how he will appeal to female voters after the reversal of Dobbs v. Jackson, Trump’s response focused more on championing a win for pro-lifers. “Getting rid of Roe v. Wade gave pro-lifers something to negotiate with,” he said. Collins asked if he would sign a federal abortion ban, to which he replied, “I would negotiate it so people are happy.”

Jillian Dorazio, a junior communication major, felt that he did not sufficiently answer questions, especially the question of how he will appeal to female voters. “I think that he’s delusional if he thinks that’s a demographic he can successfully attain a substantial number of votes from and just from the way that he was treating the interviewer just shows his complete lack of respect,” said Dorazio. 

Petrino echoed a similar message on Trump’s performance. “I think he did alright when it came to directly answering the questions. There was a lot of him dodging questions, which I don’t think helped him out a lot. But he was alright overall,” Petrino said. 

Brendan Fedrizzi, a junior politics major, called the town hall a “disaster,” also noting how Trump did not answer questions outright. “He went on about elections too long and he walked himself into a trap when asked if he would accept the 2024 results,” said Fedrizzi. In response to Collin’s question about accepting the 2024 results, Trump answered, “Yes, if I think it’s an honest election, absolutely, I would. 

“If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I’m switching to an Independent,” said Michael Hanna ’26.

Throughout the event, Trump and Collins would go back and forth regarding the validity and accuracy of his statements. Trump referred to Collins as a “nasty woman”, which once again, generated a loud applause from his supporters in the crowd. 

Going forward, the college will continue to uphold its tradition of hosting major presidential candidates both before and after primary season. New Hampshire hopes to continue to hold the honor of being the First in the Nation Primary, and Saint Anselm College plays an intricate role in maintaining this status.