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Trump Adviser Compares Joe Biden to Mister Rogers – Which Is a Compliment

It's not an insult to be compared to Fred Rogers. It's huge praise.

ABC/GETTY

If we had a President who behaved like Mister Rogers, the world would be a better place. But, according to one Trump adviser, anything that reminds them of Fred Rogers is bad. In a confusing turn of events, during the dueling Town Halls between Trump and Biden, one Trump campaign adviser tried to insult Joe Biden by comparing him to literally one of the greatest people in history — Mister Rogers.

In a twist of events that led to President Trump and Joe Biden not engaging in, as was originally scheduled, a Town Hall-style debate where the two Presidential candidates would take questions from the audience and the moderator, two dueling cable networks held different events. Instead of said-Town Hall, Biden and Trump did their own, separate Town Halls at the same time on different television channels, which forced some viewers to decide which, if any candidate, they wanted to watch for 90 minutes on television last night.

The effect of the two separate events airing side by side was pretty disparate. Online, people kept referring to how boring and normal Biden’s Town Hall seemed to be, where he gave long-winded, and specific, tax policy answers to problems, while on the other hand, President Trump’s Town Hall featured another refusal to condemn QAnon. 

The differences were so stark that a Trump Senior Campaign Advisor, Mercedes Schlapp, attempted to lob an insult at the relatively boring nature of Joe Biden’s town Hall and tweeted, in response to another person’s tweet, “@JoeBiden @ABCPolitics townhall feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers neighborhood.” 

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Of course, it’s not every single day that you hear someone use a comparison to one of the most beloved cultural figures of all time in America as an insult, but that seems to be what Schlapp was attempting here. And Twitter-ers responded accordingly. Historian Kevin M. Kruse responded sarcastically, “Yeah, people *hated* that guy,” while another person on Twitter said, “Sounds awesome. Can’t wait to vote for a kinder, more neighborly president.” 

It’s a strange “insult” to hear come out of a campaign advisor’s mouth, but maybe it makes sense in the context of the fact that just last month, Mister Rogers’ widow, Joanne Rogers, called Trump a “horrible person” and said that Mister Rogers would have hated everything about Trump. 

Either way, electing a President that reminds someone of Mister Rogers sounds like a good thing.  Rogers embodied kindness toward children, civility, hope, and, in essence, bipartisanship through unilateral support of all families. In 1969, Rogers convinced a Senate Subcommittee to devote more funds to public television for children.  Families today can attest to how much that single speech has been a force for love and clarity. Is Joe Biden like Fred Rogers? If he was, how could that be bad?

So, here’s a video of Mister Rogers talking to the Senate in 1969. If this is the kind of politics a Trump adviser thinks is bad, you have to wonder what they believe is good.

Admire Fred Rogers? We do too. That’s why Fatherly has released Finding Fred, a narrative podcast about the ideas that animated Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and what they mean in 2019. Listen to the show on iTunes or online to hear journalist Carvell Wallace grapple with the legacy of a kind, but complicated man.