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Trump again walks back remarks on cutting Social Security

President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE on Friday vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare after appearing to say at a town hall the night before that he would look to cut funding for those types of programs if elected to a second term.

"I will protect your Social Security and Medicare, just as I have for the past 3 years," Trump tweeted, claiming that Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE "will destroy both in very short order, and he won’t even know he’s doing it!"

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It marked the second time this year Trump has had to do damage control on a comment about being willing to cut entitlement programs to rein in spending.

Trump was asked during a Fox News town hall on Thursday night whether he cared about the national debt. He insisted he did and defended his support for massive spending increases on the military and other areas.

When a moderator noted that curtailing the national debt would require cutting entitlement programs, Trump indicated that would be happening.

"Oh, we’ll be cutting, but we're also going to have growth like you've never had before," Trump said.

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Liberals seized on the comment as evidence Trump would threaten social safety net programs in his second term. But White House officials claimed the president was speaking broadly about cutting deficits.

Even as Trump has pledged to protect entitlements, his budgets show he has already been looking to scale them down. His proposed budget released last month included about $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act over a decade.

Trump's attempted walk-back on Friday mirrored a similar situation from January when he told CNBC that he would be open to cutting entitlement programs down the road. He tweeted after the interview aired that he would protect Social Security.

Friday's assertion also comes as Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Don't attack Zoom for its Bernie Sanders federal tax bill Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' MORE (I-Vt.) spar over protections for Social Security and other programs as they jockey for votes in the Democratic primary.