Trump claim makes Q&A panel gasp
A reduced Q&A audience let out an audible gasp and chuckle in response to a staunch Donald Trump supporter heaping praise on the United States president's handling of the coronavirus.
Author and conservative commentator John Ruddick was quizzed on the ABC program on Monday evening as to whether Mr Trump was wrong to claim in February the pandemic would "miraculously" go away by April.
"Obviously Trump shoots his mouth off," Mr Ruddick replied.
"A lot of people have said we want a non-politician as the president. We got one. He's not a polished speaker. People know what's in his heart," he said, invoking a visceral response from the fellow panel members and audience.
The polarising commentator pleaded his case in support of Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic which has so far claimed the lives of nearly 200,000 people.
"So this pandemic comes along and Trump was the first leader in the world to stop flights from China," Mr Ruddick said.
"Who called him a racist as usual? All of his enemies in the media and the Democrats.
"A week later everybody follows him. Then he stopped flights from Europe. I remember being quite shocked by that. But then he got attacked for that. Then the rest of the world followed after."
Kim Hoggard, former presidential adviser to Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, was critical of Mr Trump despite her political career working with the Republican party.
She was the first to refute Mr Ruddick's claims.
"The verdict is out about the president's handling of the pandemic," she said, citing the horrific tally of those killed by the disease which has reached 200,000.
"They've had more infections, a higher infection rate and more deaths and they are the leading democracy, the richest country on the planet, yet this is the result.
"A pandemic will need federal and national leadership. He has said himself, 'I am not responsible'.
"He has abdicated his responsibility and handling of this and left it to all of the states."
Australian journalist, Kylie Morris, who was the White House correspondent for the UK's Channel 4 News, said it was fair for Mr Trump to bear the responsibility for failing to contain the deadly virus.
"I accept it's a very difficult problem to manage but he is the president," she said.
"The biggest challenge most observers have of the way he's handled it, compared to the way Scott Morrison has, is his dismissal of science.
"The fact that he said 'masks, who really needs masks?
"The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) appeared before congress a couple of days ago saying it is critical - these masks are almost better than a vaccine. We should all be wearing them.
"Then suddenly Donald Trump, within the day, is correcting on the record what the CDC boss meant to say. The confusion is phenomenal. And 200,000 (are) dead."
Originally published as Trump claim makes Q&A; panel gasp