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Former Vice President Joe Biden was questioned by a young Black voter at his ABC town hall about what he can do differently than former presidents. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Mr. Rogers was trending Thursday night after Mercedes Schlapp, a senior adviser for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, compared Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s town hall to the beloved show. 

“Well @JoeBiden @ABCPolitics  townhall feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood,” Schlapp tweeted, misspelling TV icon Fred Rogers’ last name. 

Schlapp was criticizing the different tones between the Biden town hall, hosted on ABC, and the Trump town hall, hosted by NBC. Critics insisted ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos went easier on Biden than NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie went on Trump. 

In Miami, Guthrie grilled Trump for 18 minutes before opening the forum to audience members’ questions. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Stephanopoulos went straight to voters’ questions and allowed the former vice president to give sometimes long-winded answers. 

COVID-19, QAnon and court packing: Here are the top moments from the Biden, Trump town halls

Schlapp was criticized for comparing the Biden to Mr. Rogers, with some calling it a “self-own” as the children’s television host was known to be patient, inclusive, and kind. 

“Pretty telling that this crew thinks Mr. Rogers is the bad guy,” tweeted Democratic strategist Zac Petkanas. 

April Reign, the activist who created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, called it the “worst self-own I’ve seen this political season” especially given “the universally beloved Mr. Rogers was from Pennsylvania, where Biden was tonight.”  

Pennsylvania is a swing state crucial to Trump’s reelection. 

More: Biden needs to win Michigan to beat Trump. These regions are key to a 2020 election victory

“Call me hopelessly old school,” tweeted Bill Kristol, director of the Republicans for the Rule of Law, “but I’m pro-Mister Rogers and anti-QAnon.”

Economist Justin Wolfers posted, “The election is now officially Mr Rogers v. Your Crazy Uncle,” regarding a jab from Guthrie to Trump over retweeting conspiracy theories.

‘You’re not someone’s crazy uncle’: Guthrie challenges Trump on conspiracy theory retweets

David Weissman, an Army combat veteran who describes himself as an “apologetic former Trump supporter”, said that the comparison was “Great”.

“I never thought I’d see MAGA world declare war on Mr. Rogers,” tweeted conservative pundit Rick Wilson, one of the founders of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group of Republicans working to elect Biden.

When quoting a tweet about the Mr. Rogers reference, Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said, “As @JoeBiden often mentions, ‘the presidency is the duty to care.’ It says everything that Trump has failed in that duty so completely that his staff think empathy is a drawback.”

Journalist Dan Rather tweeted he was confused by the comparison, “Has Donald Trump been vowing to make suburban neighborhoods safe from Mr. Rogers?”

A town hall with Trump was testy, a forum with Biden was much quieter: Here are takeaways from each

Congressman Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted “America would rather have Mr. Rogers than Mr. Hyde.” 

Some users simply posted clips from Mr. Rogers show:

In September, Joanne Rogers, the widow of children’s TV icon, called Trump “a horrible person” and that he is “pathologically ill. Mentally ill.”

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