Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump promised his supporters on Reddit that his informal question and answer session – commonly referred to as an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) – would be “huge,” and it appears that he delivered.
“This is going to be SO huge and I'm looking forward to answering your questions,” Trump said in a post prior to the start of the AMA. “I'm doing this in flight to visit the great people of Toledo, OH, so Internet connection might be spotty -- I promise you, I'll answer all the questions I can.”
Prior to Trump’s AMA Wednesday night, President Obama’s appearance in August 2012 garnered the most attention and questions from the website’s users, but Trump edged out Obama’s participation record by about 1,000 comments. Trump’s AMA saw just more than 24,700 comments, while Obama’s session received around 23,600 comments.
Other popular AMAs include celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Senator Bernie Sanders, whose appearance garnered about half the participation Trump’s did.
Despite the high participation rate, Trump only answered 13 questions over the course of an hour. Trump explained that he was on an airplane en route to a rally during the session, which may explain the low answer rate, but Trump’s AMA was different from other celebrity AMAs in another significant way – he hosted it on a message board dedicated specifically to him.
Reddit is broken up into smaller communities called subreddits. Anyone can start a subreddit, and the topics covered are essentially endless. Celebrities generally host their AMAs in a popular subreddit set up exclusively to host the question and answer sessions. Trump, on the other hand, hosted his AMA in 'The_Donald' subreddit, a community of fiercely loyal Trump supporters committed to promoting his candidacy.
The Trump subreddit, though, is one of the more popular communities on Reddit, with more than 192,000 active users.
From the start, moderators of the subreddit made it clear that any dissent or hostile questions would be deleted, and anyone who isn’t a Trump supporter would essentially be excluded from participating.
“We would remind everyone, including media here that we are not a part of the campaign, but we love our community and we will take all measures necessary to protect it. Yes, we will ban troublemakers Yes, we will remove trolling comments Yes, we mean it when we say we'll throw anyone over our walls who fails to behave themselves,” one of the moderators, who goes by the Reddit handle “Lil-Z” said in a post.
Trump’s AMA officially kicked off at 7 p.m., though he didn’t answer his first question until about 15 minutes later. Trump supporters submitted hundreds of questions about everything from nuclear energy policy to marijuana legalization – most of which went unanswered.
The questions Trump did answer covered a wide swath of his policy ideas and gave him the opportunity to lambaste his opponent, whom he constantly referred to as “Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
When asked what his plan was to remove the influence of money in politics, Trump simply responded, “Keeping Crooked Hillary Clinton out of the White House!”
Another user asked Trump why he believes Hillary Clinton hasn’t held a press conference “for such a huge amount of time.”
“Crooked Hillary Clinton will not do press conferences because she cannot explain her illegally deleted 33,000 emails, or her disaster in Libya, or her role pushing TPP (which she would 100% approve if she got the chance), or her support for a 550% increase in Syrian refugees, etc.,” Trump responded.
It has been 235 days since Clinton last held a press conference.
A user, who described himself as a “self-employed young American,” explained to Trump that his health insurance costs skyrocketed as a result of Obama’s signature healthcare law, and asked Trump what he would do to lower healthcare costs.
“One of the first things I will do is to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare,” Trump responded. “I will put forward an amazing new plan, which will include many reforms, such as letting people buy insurance across state lines, increasing choice and competition, and bargaining for better, cheaper drug prices.”
In response to recent targeted assassinations of police officers in America, a redditor asked Trump what advice he would give a young college student considering a job in law enforcement. Trump responded by saying his administration will protect police officers.
“We will always stand with and support our nation's amazing police. There is nothing more honorable then serving your community and your country as a law enforcement officer,” he said.
In closing, Trump answered a user who asked him if he ever gets tired of winning – a riff on comments Trump routinely makes at rallies where he tells supporters if he becomes president, they are going to win so much they will get tired of winning.
“I am never tired of winning, and as your president I will win for you, the American people. I'm with you!” Trump said.
A poll released Tuesday by the LA Times shows Trump with a seven-point lead over Clinton in a general election match up, though most other polls show Trump with a slimmer lead. A Real Clear Politics average of general election polls shows Trump with a one-point lead over Clinton.
Here is a list of all the other questions Trump answered:
Q: We firmly believe Hillary will try and steal this election through vote fraud, especially given recent events. What is your campaign doing to ensure that we have a fair election?
A: Voter fraud is always a serious concern and authorities must be vigilant from keeping those from voting that are not authorized to do so.
Q: What role should NASA play in helping to Make America Great Again?
A: Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration.
Q: A program meant bring truly exceptional talent to America has been twisted by globalist politicians and corporations, allowing low-cost, short term labor to steal jobs from everyday Americans and take everything they learn back to their home countries. Will you curb H-1B abuse and make sure visas are going to people who want to become American, stay American, and make America great?
A: I have put forward a detailed plan for H-1B reform to protect American workers which can viewed on the immigration paper on my website. My plan is the exact opposite of Crooked Hillary Clinton.
Q: How will you, as president, tackle this protected class of media elites without stepping on the first amendment rights of average Americans?
A: I have been very concerned about media bias and the total dishonesty of the press. I think new media is a great way to get out the truth.
Q: Which US president do you admire the most?
A: There have been many amazing Presidents in American history, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, all of whom I greatly admire.
Q: What is the most important thing you would like to convey about yourself and your policy positions to the people who voted for Bernie in the primary but are now considering either staying home or voting third party in November?
A: Though Bernie is exhausted and has given up on his revolution, many of his voters still want to keep up the fight. I expect that millions of Bernie voters will refuse to vote for Hillary because of her support for the War in Iraq, the invasion of Libya, NAFTA and TPP, and of course because she is totally bought and sold by special interests. She and her husband have been paid millions and millions by global corporations and powerful interests who will control her every decision. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.
Q: Mr. Trump, what do you feel is the greatest issue facing young Americans today?
A: The question most young people ask me is about the rising cost of education, terrible student debt and total lack of jobs. Youth unemployment is through the roof, and millions more are underemployed. It's a total disaster! I will create millions of new jobs, reform our education system, and work to free young Americans from the awful burden of debt.
Q: Hello Mr. Trump. I'm 29 years old, registered Libertarian and have voted that way my entire life. I feel closely aligned with what the party stands for, and am passionate about it. However, this election I am starting to think that, while I think a Libertarian candidate is what's best for America long term, that you may be what America needs right now. I also feel like you care about this country so, so much, and you want what's best for it. This is a difficult decision for me, because on the issues I seem to either firmly believe or strongly disagree with what you have to say. I think you may be the best possible candidate for our economy, but I do fear some of your international policies, I know that I am not the only 3rd party voter that feels this way. So my question to you is, what do you say to people like me who are on the fence about voting 3rd party (Johnson/Stein) or for you?
A: Americans in every party are tired of our rigged system and corrupt politicians, and want to reform our government so it no longer benefits the powerful at the expense of everyone else. They know I will fix it so it works for them and their families. Hillary Clinton's message is that things will never change. My message is that things have to change, and they have to change right now. We have to change a foreign policy that has led us to one economic disaster after another, and an economic policy that has failed our poorest citizens. We will never fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place. I am going to return the government to the people.