LOS ANGELES — One of Politicon's highest profile events was a pairing of Chelsea Handler, anti-Trump talk show host, and Tomi Lahren, the Trump-defending political pundit.
As you can imagine, they sparred ... but nicely.
One of the more heated moments came when Handler said of President Donald Trump, "He's got big lies we don't even know about."
Lahren, though, pressed Handler to name specific lies that Trump has made. After some struggle to name them, Handler cited his shifting position on issues like Chinese currency manipulation, and then the size of his inaugural crowds.
Lahren called talk of crowd sizes and other statements "exaggerations."
"That is something I can live with," she claimed.
The audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium seemed to be fairly evenly split between both partisan sides, and the crowd at times took to shouts, catcalls, and chants to try to make their points.
The event was kind of set up for that kind of a raucous response, but at one point Handler tried to keep things at bay.
"Don't cheer every f---g thing we say. We aren't at a football game," Handler told the crowd.
Later, Lahren talked of wanting to see Obamacare repealed, but then admitted that at 24, she is "luckily" still on her parents' insurance plan. That drew some loud groans in the crowd, as that type of coverage was one of the features of the Affordable Care Act.
"Stop, she is being honest," Handler said.
As she is prone to do, Handler made sure to throw in some expletives to get her points across.
The "Chelsea" host bashed Trump for not releasing his tax returns and for a lack of transparency. Lahren, on the other hand, mentioned Hillary Clinton and claimed that the media treated the issue of her e-mails as a "nothing burger."
Handler responded, "She's not the President. She's not doing anything that affects you. So f-- Hillary. We have to deal with this baboon."
Actually, Handler and Lahren expressed mutual admiration. Handler praised Lahren for accomplishing so much at such a young age, while Lahren talked of wanting to follow in Handler's career path. Lahren did not say what her next step would be, as she is in litigation with Glenn Beck and The Blaze.
Most of their back-and-forth generally focused on policy -- even if some of the Trump supporters in the audience occasionally broke into chants of 'USA! USA!' and "Lock Her Up!"
The pair did seem to come to an agreement on one thing -- Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's incoming communications director. When Lahren defended Trump's staff selections and those he surrounds himself with, one person in the audience shouted, "Scaramucci."
"He's a former liberal, so he is one of yours," Lahren said. "Well, you can have him," Handler joked back.
As with other Trump supporters at Politicon, Lahren also took aim at the media.
"This President cannot get his message out on mainstream media," she said. "He is not given the opportunity to. So he goes around on Twitter."
"He has every opportunity to get it out on mainstream media," Handler retorted.
But Lahren said that it was a matter of the intense focus on the Russia investigation. "When you watch CNN and you watch for five hours and you hear the same story about Russia over and over and over again, they cover nothing else," she said.
Handler responded, "It's a pretty big story."
Their most vigorous debate was over Trump's announcement that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.
"For me, reinstating the ban on transgenders in the military was a very positive step," Lahren said, as boos were heard from the crowd, with some even shouting.
She said that she was a libertarian on social issues, but "what I care about is military effectiveness and readiness." She then cited the medical costs, such as hormone therapy, as well as the costs for surgical procedures.
But Handler replied, "They are not scheduling it around the time they are deployed. No one is saying, 'I want time off in the middle of a war because I want my penis.' No one is doing that. That is unreasonable."
"I agree with you it is unreasonable, but it is happening," Lahren responded.
Handler noted that $2.4 million is spent on hormone therapy, but the military is spending $45 million a year on Viagra and Cialis.
"Shouldn't you be focusing on that?" Handler asked. "These people are volunteering to serve our country and it's not easy for them to even walk out to door," she said.
"I am not taking away from their bravery, their courage or whatever," said Lahren. "When it comes to effectiveness on the battlefield, I don't believe that it is a place for a social experiment. I don't believe it is a place for feelings."
Handler concluded, "I don't think it is a social experiment, because the trans community, they are not going away. It is only going to get bigger. This is 2017."
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