Donald Trump took his Ban The Muslims message (see announcement below) on a tour of the morning news shows today, while hosts of those programs tried to get in a word edgewise as they grabbed at the tops of their heads to keep them from flying off.
“Something has to be done,” GOP front-runner Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America of his plan, which most, but not all, his fellow GOP candidates (and even Dick Cheney) have condemned. “What I’m doing is calling very simply for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
“We have no choice but to do what I have said,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo during his morning flurry of phone interviews. “You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it.”
Trump’s phone interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe got so contentious host Joe Scarborough ordered his producers to cut off the candidate and go to commercial break. When that gesture made headlines, MSNBC announced it would re-air the kerfuffle at 10 AM ET this morning, for those who missed it the first time around.
Trump’s announcement yesterday gobsmacked TV news outlets less used to his tactics than those of us who’ve covered him for years as a reality TV star-producer-beauty-pageant owner (even Huffington Post finally conceded the point and took Trump coverage out of its “entertainment” section). Adding to the trove of brilliant Trump stunts, the GOP front-runner successfully shoved into the background the investigation and aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting, which otherwise the TV news operations would have feasted on non-stop for days more.
“You are increasingly being compared to Hitler – does that give you any pause at all?” Stephanopoulos asked Trump this morning, as prognosticators quickly adjusted upwards their ratings forecasts for CNN’s GOP debate next week.
“No, because I know what I’m doing is no different than what FDR [did],” Trump began. “FDR’s solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese –”
“So you’re for internment camps?!” Stephanopoulos asked in disbelief, referencing the Japanese internment camps used in this country by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. But Trump told Stephanopoulos he does not envision doing same. Roosevelt, he said, “is a president highly respected by all…If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse. I mean, he was talking about the Germans because we were at war.”
“We are now at war,” Trump added. “We have a president that doesn’t want to say that, but we are now at war.”
Stephanopoulos tried, in vain, as did other morning news anchors, to get Trump to explain how his program would work. “Unlikely it could pass Congress, even if it did likely to be declared unconstitutional. So how will you actually do this?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“What I’m doing doing is I’m calling very simply for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States – and here’s the key– until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” Trump explained. “They don’t know. Our president wants to make a fool of himself the other night with a speech that nobody still knows — I tweeted out, ‘Is That All There Is?’ He didn’t say anything. He doesn’t know what’s going on. And we have people in this country that want to blow up our country. You know it, and so do I.”
On ABC’s show, as elsewhere, Trump forecast, “We will have many more World Trade Centers. It will get worse.” Also heard around the dial, Trump telling show hosts: “They have areas in Paris where police refuse to go to because it’s so dangerous. We don’t want that for our country.”
Even the White House got in on Trump’s made-for-TV act today. Press secretary Josh Earnest’s comments on our country’s TV star turned White House hopeful has been a favorite clip among news programs this afternoon:
“What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president,” Earnest said during his White House press briefing, noting a new president takes office “swearing an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” With which Trump’s ban-Muslims plan does not comport.
“The Trump campaign for months now has had a dustbin of history-like quality to it, from the vacuous sloganeering, to the outright lies to even the fake hair, the whole carnival barker routine that we’ve seen for some time now,” Earnest prattled on happily. “The question now is about the rest of the Republican Party and whether or not they’re going to be dragged into the dustbin of history with him… The current trajectory is not too good.”
“Do they have the courage of their convictions to stand up to Mr. Trump’s supporters and say they are going to side with the Constitution over Mr. Trump, even if Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee?” Earnest wondered. “If they don’t have that much courage … then they have no business serving as president of the United States themselves.” TV news pundits have been chewing on that for a while now, debating whether his comments helped, or hurt, the Democratic White House hopefuls.
Trump is leading in most states’ polls of likely GOP voters.
Here is yesterday’s Trump campaign announcement: