Donald Trump has come under fire for mistakenly telling a participant of Tuesday night's ABC News town hall that her mother, who died of cancer, suffered from Covid-19.
As Flor Cruceta became emotional during the event in Pennsylvania, Mr Trump asked "did you say your mum got Covid? Your mum?" Holding back tears, she remembered how she and her mother immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2006 to live their American dream.
"She had breast cancer but it made metastases on her brain, bone, and lungs and she passed on the 19th," Ms Cruceta said.
"I'm here because of her. She was supposed to be here and ask you and thank you for this -- if they should take -- during this epidemic, you made people closer. We lost our jobs but we learned how to love our family. So I'm saying that from her."
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After being asked what he would do to make the immigration system easier for families like hers to become citizens and vote, Mr Trump went into his answer about a merit-based system before returning to Ms Cruceta's mother.
"I mean as far as your situation with your mother, that is just devastating because I can imagine how you feel and it sounds like a great woman," Mr Trump began.
"The love that you have for your mother, I can see that, it’s hard. And so many people and they die alone. They die alone because this is such a vicious thing. You can’t go there and hold their hand. You can’t give them a kiss good night. It’s a terrible, terrible thing. And hopefully the vaccines are going to be very soon, hopefully. Did you have Covid? You didn’t have it right?"
Fighting tears, a new U.S. citizen who just lost her mother, asks, “What would you change to make more people like me and like her to become citizens?”— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020
Trump: “We want people to come into our country…but we want them to come in through a legal system.” https://t.co/5rferlTBvn pic.twitter.com/vAvcv3TAKt
When she replied "No", the president seemed confused.
"You didn’t have it, your mother. We’ll have it taken care of. It’s going to get taken care of. The vaccines are going to make a big difference. What has made a big difference is Remdesivir."
Ms Cruceta, who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and recently became a citizen at the urging of her mother, said on Wednesday that she was thankful for the opportunity to speak to the president.
"He did answer about immigration a little, but he misunderstood my mum succumbing from brain, lungs and bones cancer, no Covid-19," she said in a Facebook post.
While Mr Trump's answer included a commitment to soon announce a new merit-based system that would allow more legal immigration like that of the Cruceta family, the reaction focused on the president's seeming confusion.
A voter, crying, asks Trump a question her Mom wanted to ask, but she died of cancer.— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) September 16, 2020
Trump repeatedly mentions her Mom dying of covid.
Trump: Did you have Covid? You didn't have it, right? You didn't have it? Your mother. Uh, we’ll have it taken care of.
The woman who told you her mother died OF BREAST CANCER and you babbled on about Covid. Your Dementia is out of control!!! #DementiaDon When you aren’t at your Rallys talking crap to your MAGAts and talking to real people with issues you made a fool of yourself! #TrumpTownHall pic.twitter.com/wwb36Avjpv— DUMP TRUMP (@PixeldiseA) September 16, 2020
The one back and forth that was the kind of voter engagement campaigns seek for candidates - the exchange between Trump and a woman in tears about her sick mother - was the woman saying her mother had cancer and Trump instead talked about COVID.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 16, 2020
Donald Trump says “I’m very good with people” after sitting like a soulless robot as a woman talks about how her mother died from metastasized BREAST CANCER, and then bizarrely spends five minutes explaining how he’s going to cure COVID so people like her mother won’t die. 😒 https://t.co/sKxUJeoZeJ— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) September 16, 2020
In tears, Flor Cruceta says her mother just died of metastatic breast cancer.— #SpreadTruth not COVID-19 🇺🇸🇬🇷🇫🇷🇩🇪 (@babiecee) September 16, 2020
Trump responds by talking about COVID, then tells her "you can go into the hospital, get your mother, and give her a transfusion or a shot." 😳#TrumpTownHall #TrumpLied200KDied #TrumpIsUnfit pic.twitter.com/3pZwmCxbIz