UPDATED: Donald Trump, in an exclusive sit-down interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, said he has “evolved” from a pro-choice businessman to an anti-abortion Republican presidential candidate. Trump said he favored abortion rights in cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother “if the mother is close to death.”
“I’m talking about death,” he reiterated when Todd asked him about the health of the mother. “If the mother will die and we’re going to know that. The problem with [saying health] is, what, you have a cold and you’re having an abortion?”
Trump said he would not fund Planned Parenthood if it continued to provide abortion services. “It has to stop with the abortions,” he said, while insisting, “Women’s health issues to me are very important. I cherish women. My mother was this incredible woman. I have great children. I have a great wife. I have such great respect for women. I understand the importance of women. I have many executives in my organization that are women that frankly get paid more than many of my men executives. They’ve done great with me.”
Asked by Todd if he’d shut down the government over Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, Trump said, “I’d have to think about it. It bothers me greatly that they’re doing the abortions.” Trump conceded he did not know what percentage of Planned Parenthood’s services were abortion-related, citing the wide discrepancy of estimates.
Trump’s sit-down with Todd — a relative rarity in recent weeks of Trump’s ubiquitous phone-in interviews — was taped in Trump’s plane on a runway near the Iowa State Fair, apparently prior to Saturday’s late-in-coming response from comedian Rosie O’Donnell regarding the personal attacks made by Trump during the August 6 Republican debate on Fox. During a call-in to SiriusXM’s show, O’Donnell said Trump is the driving force in an ongoing “war on women.” When the radio host called Trump’s statements about O’Donnell “vile,” the former View cohost said, “It’s bigger than any specific people. There’s a war on women that is happening in this country, starting with basic abortion rights, freedom to choose what we fought for in the 60s and 70s, that women died for, bleeding in back alleys from hanger abortions. Women fought for equality in this country and right now, politically, it’s being taken away.”
“They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country.” — Donald Trump on undocumented immigrants
On Meet the Press, Trump also addressed, among other topics, immigration. In a segment released prior to the Sunday morning broadcast, Trump told Todd he wants to keep immigrant families together — “just not here.” Trump pledged to reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration and deport all undocumented immigrants.
“We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” he told Todd. “They have to go.” Following up, he continued, “We will work with them. They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country.”
In what NBC trumped as a first look at the former reality star’s “first outlines of the immigration policy proposals he’d implement from the Oval Office,” Trump doubled-down on his hard-line, anti-immigrant stance, cutting no slack even for the so-called “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. illegally as children, saying “we have to” rescind Obama’s executive order offering protection from deportation. “We have to make a whole new set of standards” for those immigrating to the US.
Despite Trump’s frequent claims that Latinos “love” him, his comments on Meet the Press will no doubt enrage Hispanic critics still reeling from Trump’s earlier claims that Mexico sends “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States.
On other foreign affairs, Trump said, on ISIS, that he’d “take away their wealth,” and that while he isn’t a “big fan” of Saudi Arabia, “I get along with them very well. They give me millions of dollars for apartments. So does China and so does Mexico and I make tremendous amounts of money from very wealthy people who buy apartments from me.”
Trump said our interest in Saudi Arabia is that “we need the oil, but now we don’t need the oil so much,” and that “if we let our people really go” in terms of developing our own oil and natural gas supplies, “we wouldn’t need the oil at all and we could let everybody else fight it out.”
Regarding President Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, Trump said it “will lead to nuclear holocaust.” He said Obama “really let Israel down.”
Iran, he said, is “going to take over parts of the world that you wouldn’t believe. People who negotiated that deal, namely Kerry and his friends, are incompetent.”
Asked who he turns to for military advice, Trump said, “I watch the shows,” like Meet the Press, though when pressed he name-checked ambassador John Bolton and Col. Jack Jacobs.
In a lightening round of questions to close out the interview, Trump said:
–He still thinks Obama should release his college academic records. When Todd asked about Trump if he’d release his own college records, Trump said: “I’m proud of my records. But [Obama] has to do it. If he does it I’ll do it”;
–He reiterated his opinion that rival Jeb Bush is “a puppet” to campaign donors, and that while he himself couldn’t agree to a “lifetime ban” on accepting contributions, “I can certainly make it through four years”;
-Asked by Todd when he though America was last “great,” Trump said during the Reagan Administration, at which point Todd quoted from an old newspaper ad taken by Trump in 1987 that said, in part, “The world is laughing at America’s politicians,” a phrase Trump frequently used today. “I thought America was excellent,” Trump responded, “but I thought NAFTA was a huge mistake.” He added that he admired the “tone” set by Reagan.
–Finally, Todd quoted a 1990 Playboy in which Trump said that his plane and other luxury accouterments were merely “props for the show,” and that “The show is Trump and it has sold out performances everywhere.”
Todd asked, Are we all a part of the show?
“This is not a reality show,” Trump responded. “This is the real deal.” He then promised Todd a ratings surge for today’s episode.