Trump again walks back remarks on cutting Social Security

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus 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 BidenPrivacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus Trump crowd chants 'lock her up' about Omar as president warns of refugees in Minnesota 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 SandersDemocrats say Biden survived brutal debate — and that's enough The Hill's Morning Report - Fight night: Trump, Biden hurl insults in nasty debate Trump, Biden clash over health care as debate begins MORE (I-Vt.) spar over protections for Social Security and other programs as they jockey for votes in the Democratic primary.