Donald Trump is again demanding cash to participate in GOP debates, which he says he’ll turn over to charities that help wounded military personnel and veterans. He detailed his demands to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos the morning after announcing he would not sign a letter from GOP candidates spelling out demands for debates going forward and intended to negotiate his own appearance requirements going forward.
“I personally don’t care too much in terms of the debate; they’ve been hitting me one way or another. I guess I have been doing very well. I just want to have the debates. I like the debates,” Trump said this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I don’t think it should be three hours… and I’d like money, frankly,” he told host Stephanopoulos. “The networks are making a fortune with the debate. I’d like to see the wounded warriors and the veterans, get some of the profits. I mean, we’re going in, we’re getting nothing, and that’s fine. But [the networks] are getting tremendous – 23, 24 million people.”
Asked if he would insist on Republican moderators at GOP debates – a condition some of the candidates had lobbied for – Trump responded, “I just want to answer the questions and be done with it. Frankly we’re doing well.”
Trump, who came to plug his new book, Crippled America, hitting bookstores today, but really to campaign, arrived in a black stretch limo and was seen stopping to shake hands as he headed into the Times Square building to visit ABC’s morning infotainment program for the first time as a candidate. As that photo op was happening, inside the studio the show talked about a new poll, conducted before the CNBC debate, showing GOP hopeful Ben Carson at 50% and Donald Trump at 35%.
Stephanopoulos played the clip of President Obama joking that GOP White House hopefuls all say they’ll bring Russian leader Vladimir Putin to his knees, but can’t even handle a bunch of CNBC moderators. Over the weekend, about a dozen of the candidates broke away from the RNC in the wake of that much-criticized debate, and came up with a list of their debate demands going forward. But the alliance collapsed yesterday when Trump said he would instead negotiate his own deals to appear at debates. A couple other candidates followed suit.
Asked how he planned to handle Ben Carson,” Trump insisted he’s now ahead in Iowa and has “been in the lead, or close to the lead from the beginning,” though he now acknowledges “it’s going to be probably, maybe tight.”
Carson “doesn’t have the experience” needed for the job, Trump insisted. “I’m going to make the greatest deals you ever seen on trade. We’re going to run the military properly. I’m going to take care of the vets. Ben cannot do those thing; Ben cannot deal on trade. It’s not his thing, George, you know – you’re born with it. He hasn’t got the temperament for it. When you see China, these are fierce people in terms of negotiations. They want to cut your throat out. They want to cut you apart. These are tough people. I’ve dealt with them all my life.”
The other GOP presidential candidates, Trump said dismissively, “they don’t even know what corporate inversion is.”
Stephanopoulos next played a clip of Dem frontrunner Hillary Clinton saying that if Trump is the GOP nominee “I would l love to debate him….Now, that’s a general election debate that’s going to be a lot of fun!”
“She’s bluffing,” Trump said. “In my opinion, she’s the nominee – unless she gets indicted,” he added.
On the GOP side, Marco Rubio, who has been gaining ground in polling since the CNBC debate, is “over-rated” and a “lightweight,” Trump said, adding, “I think Putin would eat him alive.”
Jeb Bush is “a nice guy” but “a stiff” who “doesn’t have a chance.”
“If I win, great. I’m going to make this country great again. If I lose, fine. I’m not going to deal with these people, that’s going to be it,” Trump said of his rivals in the race. “I will go into the sunset and…build buildings.”
And then, they talked about his new book. Kidding!