President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden were scheduled to participate in a town hall style debate on October 15, but that was upended when Trump tested positive for the virus that's killed over 200 thousand Americans.
With Trump testing positive two weeks before the scheduled event, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second debate would be held virtually.
Trump refused and pulled out of the second debate, leading Biden's campaign to announce a town hall on ABC on the night originally planned for the debate.
As a result, Trump announced days later that he would participate in a town hall on NBC at the same time as Biden, essentially challenging the Democratic nominee to a ratings battle and limiting voters' ability to hear from both candidates.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp attempted to roast Biden during his town hall by comparing him to the beloved children's show host Mr. Rogers.
Well @JoeBiden @ABCPolitics townhall feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood. https://t.co/bC8fIZPxHR
— Mercedes Schlapp (@mercedesschlapp) October 16, 2020
The ill-advised comparison comes just weeks after Mr. Rogers' widow excoriated Trump as "pathologically ill."
Mr. Rogers was the host of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran for 31 seasons until 2001. He was adored for his gentility and empathy while finding creative ways to introduce young viewers to complex issues.
Twitter roasted Schlapp for implying that Mr. Rogers was an unenviable personality.
Pretty telling that this crew thinks Mr. Rogers is the bad guy. https://t.co/g9aFK7qV6V
— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) October 16, 2020
You've made it abundantly clear you have no idea who Fred Rogers was! https://t.co/NcMC5rsu0G
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) October 16, 2020
Fred Rogers...one of the most beloved Americans on all time.
I suspect both @JoeBiden would consider that a compliment. https://t.co/mjHBYXpLJR
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) October 16, 2020
Imagine being part of the political party that views this as an insult https://t.co/yeYLIjiOSA
— Karen Schwartz (@pithywidow) October 16, 2020
I worry about the souls of those who think calling someone "Mr. Rogers" is an insult. Humans love Mr. Rogers. https://t.co/pmnQZcO6r3
— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) October 16, 2020
Love to go after my opponent by comparing him to the nicest person to ever come out of Pennsylvania https://t.co/4cgmo4KUQm
— Aaron (@BobbyBigWheel) October 16, 2020
The personality of Mr. Rogers is a far cry from that of Donald Trump.
What's both funny and sad about Mercedes Schlapp bashing Mr. Rogers is that she perfectly represents the broken Trumpian view that his kind of caring, disciplined message is weakness when, in fact, it requires infinitely more strength than Trump's petulant, incoherent ranting.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 16, 2020
Dear pathetic sycophant:
Yes. Because he is sane, calm and has empathy and normal human feeling. He is not a deranged & unhinged anti-science nonstop machine gun of lies and conspiracy theory nonsense. Your gravy train is almost over, enjoy the grifting for the next 97 days. https://t.co/By1IbnJCyD
— Spiro Agnew's Ghost (@SpiroAgnewGhost) October 16, 2020
At tonight's rally in Pennsylvania: "Suburban women, will you please like me?" Donald Trump pleaded with the crowd. "I saved your damn neighborhood." Not exactly Mr. Rogers.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) October 14, 2020
Schlapp later made light of the moment in a Fox News interview, saying "We love Mr Rogers, but I gotta tell you, those puppets were always a little freaky when I was growing up."