Questions President Biden was asked during CNN’s town hall Thursday night were posed by mostly Democrats — only giving two Republicans the opportunity to quiz the president on the various crises his administration is facing.
The town hall, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, featured questions from 12 participants that attended the “invitation-only” event. Seven of the participants were identified as Democrats, three were identified as Independents and two were identified as Republicans.
Cooper spent most of the 90-minute event asking Biden questions himself, pressing the president on altering the filibuster and how to pay for the massive social spending bill being pushed by Democrats.
When it came to the questions from participants in the audience, Biden heard from the two Republicans within the final 20 minutes of the event.
The first Republican participant quizzed the president on why he hasn’t been to the southern border amid a historic surge of illegal immigrant crossings.
“I’ve been there before and I haven’t — I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down. But the whole point of it is I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down,” Biden said.
“I’ve been spending time going around looking at $900 billion worth of damage done by hurricanes and floods and weather and traveling around the world. But I plan on — now my wife Jill has been down. She’s been on both sides of the river, she’s seen the circumstances there, she’s looked into those places.”
It’s unclear when Biden, who is a former senator and vice president, may have visited the border in the past and he gave no indication of timing. Fox News recently reported it was unable to find evidence of Biden traveling to the border.
The second Republican introduced — and last participant to ask a question during the town hall — questioned Biden on how the U.S. will match China’s military amid reports of hypersonic missile testing.
The Independent participants took the opportunity to ask Biden a range of questions, focused on when COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for young children, how much the president thinks is “fair” for wealthy Americans to pay, and why Biden won’t just “usher through the Democratic agenda” while “rogue moderates and Republicans” hold up negotiations.
The Democratic participants’ questions largely focused on the president’s Build Back Better agenda.
Earlier this week, CNN announced the town hall would be an “invitation-only audience,” mirroring another forum the outlet hosted in July in Ohio.
CNN did not reveal who would be invited or how they were selected, however following the July event, The Enquirer, a Cincinnati-based publication, discovered the media company reached out to various organizations such as labor unions, colleges and business organizations “who sent messages asking people to apply.”
CNN appears to have a history of favoring Democratic participants in town halls, according to Fox News, which gathered participant data on several recent forums hosted by the network.
During July’s town hall, eight Democrats and three Republicans were able to ask questions, while at a town hall in February, zero participants were identified as Republicans. Out of the 12, six were Democrats and six were identified as Independents — two of whom voted for former President Donald Trump.
In 2020, CNN hosted another town hall where 13 out 16 participants were identified as Democrats and three were identified as Republicans.