Trump hits back at Bolton over book, saying he is ‘crazy’ and never smiled

President calls Joe Biden's latest verbal gaffe a 'serious' error that is 'not permissible' – despite former VP's lead in six swing states

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 26 June 2020 02:51 BST
Donald Trump claims Democrats 'more unreasonable' than North Korea or Russia

Donald Trump continued to rip into former national security adviser John Bolton over his scathing critique of the president in his book, calling the conservative hawk "crazy" and bad at his job.

During a town hall event taped on Thursday afternoon that aired that evening, the president also took a few shots at his presumptive general election foe, Joe Biden, saying he has trouble speaking and "is shot." Though Mr Trump does not view Mr Biden as politically "radical left," he predicted the progressive wing of the Democratic party would run roughshod over the former VP.

"He didn't do a good job," Mr Trump said of his former national security adviser in a Fox News interview. "He wasn't smart. He wasn't sharp."

In his book, Mr Bolton paints a picture of an ill-informed president who lacked any guiding principles except his own re-election. He called Mr Trump a danger to the country.

But on Thursday night, the president called Mr Bolton "the only man I think I ever met – I knew him for a year – I don't think I ever saw him smile once. I said to him, 'John, do you ever smile?' And it tells you something about somebody."

In his own interview with Fox this week, Mr Bolton continued hammering the president.

"The difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden has a view, and Trump has no view," Mr Bolton said, referring to the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. "On any given day, any decision is possible. And I find that frightening. I find the response to the coronavirus demonstrates exactly the kind of fear that I have."

But Mr Trump's rebuttal included a shot at Mr Bolton's staunch belief in the use of military force, saying the former US ambassador to the UN just wants to "drop bombs on everybody."

After Mr Biden earlier in the day erroneously said 120m Americans had died from coronavirus – instead of 120,000 – Mr Trump slammed the presumptive Democratic nominee over what he called a "serious" and "not a permissible" gaffe.

The former Democratic vice president has been plagued for years by false and embellished statements, but leads Mr Trump nationally and in the six swing states that political strategists say likely will decide the election.

"Whenever he does talk, he can't put two sentences together," Mr Trump said. "He can't speak."

Still, the president appeared to predict that Mr Biden is now the frontrunner in the 2020 race.

"He's going to be your president because some people don't love me, maybe," the president told Sean Hannity.

Earlier in the day Mr Trump returned to Wisconsin for the second time this year, a state he won by just under 1 percentage point in 2016.

But polls released this week spell trouble there, as well as in five other key battleground states that political operatives say will decide the 2020 race.

In fact, FiveThirtyEight's average of several polls put Mr Biden ahead by 9.6 percentage points. The website showed Mr Biden with support from 50.2 per cent of voters polled in Wisconsin, with Mr Trump garnering the support of 40.5 per cent.

Nationally, FiveThirty's average puts Mr Biden ahead by 9.5 percentage points (50.6 per cent to 41.1 per cent).

The Trump campaign chose Brown County for the town hall, which the president won 52.1 per cent to 41.4 per cent four years ago. In so doing, they chose a county with a "high" level of coronavirus activity, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The White House is defending his travel to swing states, saying everyone who gets near the commander in chief is tested for Covid-19. What's more, White House aides say they are adhering to each state's virus safety precautions.

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