First question of Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing TCA Q&A: Is or is not Mike Baxter a Donald Trump supporter now that he’s on Fox?

After some guffawing from the stage about that being the first question, Allen said it is a “legitimate question” and answered he thinks the guy is likely a “centrist” – the same expression used by Fox TV Group co-chair/CEO Gary Newman in response to a similar question earlier in the day.

Baxter is “probably pro Trump.” But more likely, whatever is good for his business, for the state of Colorado in which the show is set, is what “he’s going to go with,” Allen said of his character.

EP/showrunner Kevin Abbott, however, does not think Baxter is going to comment on his voting record specifically, though the character is conservative and holds those ideals.

“Oh, yes we will,” Allen pushed back.

Maybe to that point: A Chinese exchange student is moving in to the Baxter household this season.

Allen declined to discuss his own politics, saying, “If you want to know what I believe, come to see me at the Mirage in Vegas.

Producers explained the recasting of characters played by Molly Ephraim and Flynn Morrison for the coming season. They played Mandy and Boyd Baxter — the middle daughter and grandson, respectively, of Tim Allen’s Mike Baxter. Ephraim was unavailable due to commitments made when the show was canceled; producers decided they wanted to “age up” Morrison’s character to be 12, they said.

Allen set the record straight on his thought about ABC canceling the show. He now thinks it was not politically motivated, though LMS was one of the most successful shows on the network’s schedule when it pulled the plug. He believes “It was a financial decision,” again mirroring what Fox execs said earlier, explaining their belief ABC execs made the decision to program its Friday with shows it owned; Last Man Standing comes from Fox’s production house.

Allen did, however fault ABC for not giving them a heads up that this was in the works.  “I thought it was done very poorly. None of us knew,” he said.

Asked if Disney chief Bob Iger had called to congratulate them on the Fox pickup, EP/writer Matt Berry shot back, “Are you a writer for Sarcasm Daily?

“It was the only year we were not on the bubble and we were canceled,” Abbott added. Had they known, they would have come up with a series ending, so as to give not only the audience but also the writers and actors some closure.

Happily, that did not happen, which makes its return to air that much easier. They hope to do an episode early on in the coming season that features vignettes that would have happened in the time they unexpectedly were off the air.

Allen said he is trying to get Tom Hanks to do a wink-and-a-nod Toy Story-ish episode this season, adding, “Toy Story 4 is going to be great; it’s really good.”

Asked what plotlines were “left undone” when the expected next season did not happen on ABC, Allen said. “We really had planned, like so many other people, that Mrs. Clinton would be president. We had a whole bank of stuff going on that. The night Trump pulled it off – forget the politics – those of us in the comedy business went ‘shoot!’” because they had to jettison all that pantsuit material they’d socked away.

Asked about the spectacular success of ABC’s Roseanne revival this past season, panelists speculated Last Man Standing might have done similarly had they gotten the same kind of promo push.