UPDATED, 7:09 PM: MSNBC has issued a statement about a comment Donald Trump made tonight on Fox News Channel when asked about his comments on abortion during his town hall with MSNBC: “The town hall interview with Donald Trump was taped in advance and then aired in its entirety,” the cable news outfit said in a statement to Deadline. “Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out.”
“I think it was very mutually set up,” Trump told Eric Bolling, who is filling in for Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor.
Trump is ratings lightning this week; yesterday MSNBC beat FNC in the news demo with its incendiary Trump town hall discussion with Chris Matthews. Today, it’s FNC’s turn, though the network had to settle for a phone interview.
The GOP front-runner said RNC chief Reince Priebus and staff “wanted to really discuss unity” at today’s hourlong meeting in Washington. Trump added, “and I like discussing unity too. Theoretically, my whole life – I mean people sort of wouldn’t understand this, a lot of people – but it’s been about unity. I get along with people. I get along with people very well.”
Asked if he thinks there is a possibility the RNC might change rules at its July convention and call for super-majority, Trump responded, “No, that won’t happen.” After a brief respite, he recently began again to accuse the Republican Party of treating him “unfairly” and, during CNN’s GOP town hall this week, he withdrew his pledge to support whoever becomes the party’s nominee.
“Tomorrow I’m going back to Wisconsin, and I’m looking forward to that. … I guess I picked up quite a bit in terms of the Wisconsin vote,” he said of new poll results. “Nationwide we’re seeing big leads, so I think that’s why the RNC wanted to meet with me.”
Trump said he was in Washington anyway “because we had a foreign policy team meeting today. We have some wonderful people that we met with on a board I’m setting up, a board with various people having to do with foreign policy. I did that.”
At that meeting, he told FNC, he had “some amazing discussions” in which “everybody agrees with me” that “you don’t take [nuclear weapons] off the table. Why would we take it off the table? It’s a very strong negotiating point. Hopefully we never have to use it even as a negotiating point, but certainly you don’t take it off the table.”
He added, “The last person to use nuclear would be Donald Trump. The thought of it is horrible, but I don’t want to take anything off the table. There will be times, maybe, where we will be in a very deep, very difficult, very horrible negotiation. I’m not going to take it off the table, and I said it yesterday and I stay with it.”
His team also told him “I was right as to NATO, because we are paying a disproportionate share of NATO and NATO is largely obsolete,” Trump told Bolling. “We owe $19 trillion, and we can’t go around being the policemen of the world and supporting 73% of NATO, and other countries are benefiting and we’re paying the tab.”
Meanwhile, at that ratings-magnet, headline-grabbing MSNBC interview with Matthews, the network “cut” portions of their “long discussion” about abortion, in which Trump said he was against abortion and, if it is outlawed, women who have the procedure should be subject to “some form of punishment.” (Within a couple hours, he’d issued a statement reversing that, saying the doctors who perform the procedure are responsible, not the women who have it.)
“It could be that I misspoke, but this was a long, convoluted subject,” the candidate said of yesterday’s MSNBC interview. “We talked Catholicism and his religion and Chris went back and forth about that. this was a long convoluted discussion which frankly they don’t want on television because it was too long.”
“You really ought to hear the whole thing. This was a long convoluted question. This was a long discussion and they just cut it out. And frankly it was really convoluted,” Trump said. As he said in a statement about two hours after the interview, Trump told Bolling, “if in fact abortion was outlawed the person performing the abortion, the doctor or whoever it may be, that’s really doing the act or is responsible for the act, not the woman is responsible. That’s the way I’ve always felt. I’ve had the same stance exactly as Ronald Reagan.”