Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump denied he lacks the temperament to be president, saying he could not have been as successful as he’s been “without a good temperament,” as Democrat Hillary Clinton hammered at his positions, saying Trump’s views on defending allies goes against everything Republicans and Democrats agree on.
In back-to-back interviews on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the two top presidential contenders went after each other, insisting their opponent was unqualified for the nation’s highest office and advancing the verbal slugfest that began with the foreign policy address Clinton delivered last week. During the speech, she called Trump thin-skinned and said she would not trust him with the nuclear codes.
“He is not qualified to be president of the United States, either by experience, preparation or temperament,” Clinton said of Trump.
“First of all, I don’t have thin skin. I have very thick skin,” Trump responded. “I’ve been successful in every business I’ve been in. … You can’t have that success without good temperament.”
Trump tried to explain his remarks earlier in the primary season, in which he said Japan and South Korea should have their own nuclear weapons as a deterrent against North Korea. Trump said Sunday what he meant is that he wants our allies to pay 100 percent of the costs involved in defending them.
“Japan pays us a small fraction of the cost. I want them to pay [100 percent of] the cost,” he said, adding it costs “billions and billions of dollars” to protect Japan. “If we get attacked, Japan doesn’t have to defend us.”
Trump noted the United States pays rent to Saudi Arabia, which he described as the richest country in the world, to maintain U.S. bases there.
“Our country is stone-cold broke,” he said. “If they don’t make us whole, they may have to defend themselves.”
He said the United States should be willing to pull its troops out of countries that don’t foot the bill.
“You have to be able to walk away from a deal,” he said.
Clinton said that position “violates Republican and Democratic agreement on how to be strong in the world.” She said her scathing attack last week was an effort to present everything Trump has said and demonstrate he’s “trying to rewrite history.”
“I think he engages in so much scapegoating and finger-pointing … He doesn’t tell the truth, doesn’t seem to be bothered about the constant contradictions. … He has rattled our closest allies. … People are not used to seeing anyone, Republican or Democrat, running so loose with the truth,” Clinton said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Clinton Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who said he has no plans to fold his campaign before the Democratic National Convention in late July, echoed the former secretary of state’s opinion on “State of the Union,” saying, “Trump would be a disaster [as president], and she and I agree on that.”
She also took Trump to task for creating an atmosphere in which political violence is acceptable, citing instances in which Trump lauded his supporters for attacking protesters.
“I don’t think any of this helps anybody,” she said. “I want it to end. … He needs to condemn all violence by everyone.”
In a separate interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Trump focused on Clinton’s email scandal, saying her use of a private server showed poor judgment and was criminal in nature.
“Everyone knows she’s guilty,” he said, adding he would direct his attorney general to reinvestigate if no charges are brought by the Obama administration. “She is also guilty of stupidity. What lawyers are saying what she did in terms of national security – she’s broken all of them.”
On “This Week,” Clinton laughed at Trump's assertion and refused to respond directly. What Trump is doing, she said, “is trying to divert attention from the very serious fraud charges against Trump University by some of the officials who worked with him.”
He also doubled down on his pledged to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and temporarily block Muslims from entering the country.
On the Trump University lawsuit, Trump in both interviews maintained U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has been treating him unfairly in court because of his Mexican heritage. Trump repeatedly cited his pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep immigrants from crossing the border as the reason why Curiel keeps ruling against him.
“Judge Curiel is just as American as I am and just as American as Trump is,” Clinton said.
Clinton scoffed at comparisons Trump has made between his Trump University troubles and the Clinton Foundation, calling them “absurd.”
“The attorney general of New York has said Trump University is a fraud. Donald Trump has preyed on people,” she said.
The Clinton Foundation says it “builds partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments and individuals everywhere to work faster, better and leaner to find solutions that last and to transform lives and communities.” The Foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments has generated questions about cronyism and whether it exerted any influence on Clinton’s approach to foreign policy.