In his first on-camera interview since he set Washington DC’s pants on fire yesterday with his controversial plan to bar Muslims from coming to this country, Donald Trump told pal Barbara Walters he is, contrary to what many in Washington are saying, “the worst thing that ever happened to ISIS.” He insisted that, despite suggestions from members of both parties Trump is playing into ISIS’s hands, Trump insisted “the people in my party fully understand that” but are blasting him for his plan nonetheless, because they’re jealous. “They’re running against me. For the most part, they have no poll numbers. I’m leading by a lot. They get it. They’re trying to get publicity for themselves,” Trump said dismissively. “You know when I came out against illegal immigration, everybody said the same thing. Two weeks later, everybody was on my side, including the members of my own party.”
When Walters set up Trump to declare he’s not a bigot, by asking “Are you a bigot?” (wonder where she would have gone with her questioning had he answered “you betcha”), Trump said he was not. He said he had “tremendous relationships” with people in the Muslim community and that they agreed with his sentiments 100%. He insisted he was thinking about the future of the U.S.
“I’m a person who has common sense. I’m a smart person. I know how to run things. I know how to make America great again. This is about making America great,” Trump said. More of the interview was set to be parsed out tonight on Nightline and still more tomorrow morning on Good Morning America.
Among those who are not fans of Trump’s plan: House Speaker Paul Ryan, who today pronounced that “This is not conservatism.” Down the road a spell from his offices, the Washington Post gushed about Ryan’s “near perfect response” to Trump’s proposed ban which the publication said let this interloper Trump know in no uncertain terms that his plan “has no place in the Republican Party.” Ryan’s remark was “elegant, simple and unequivocal,” WaPo hyperventilated.
Trump’s Nuts-To-You response on Twitter to Ryan and, by extension, WaPo: “A new poll indicates that 68% of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent.” Elegant. Simple. Unequivocal. 21 words, one ampersand, and one percentage.
Meanwhile, White House press secy Josh Earnest was a rock star in some quarters this afternoon, where he was getting credit for launching #TrumpIsDisqualifiedParty on Twitter. Earnest said at today’s White House press briefing that Trump’s plan “disqualified” him from being POTUS. Not long thereafter, #TrumpIsDisqualifiedParty was top-trending in the United States, including not only bastions of liberalism like Los Angeles and New York, but also in Washington DC, Birmingham, and Dallas-Fort Worth, to name a few. Internationally it ranked No. 4.