In the days before the Fox News debate last week, Donald Trump said he wasn’t looking to attack any of his Republican rivals unless he was attacked. That’s changed, apparently.
In an interview Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends, Trump twice went out of his way to criticize his competition. In the first instance, he took a question about his standing in polls and turned it into a blistering–and highly inaccurate–attack on Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. And in the second, Trump bypassed an opportunity to hit back at criticism from Hillary Clinton and chose instead to turn his answer into a shot at Jeb Bush.
Fox host Steve Doocy told Trump “you’re doing well in Iowa” and noted that he had jumped ahead of Walker in a new poll of Iowa Republicans. He asked Trump: “What’s going on with you and Iowa?
Although the question invited Trump to talk about his favorite subject (Trump), he used instead it to bash Walker.
“Scott Walker was going to be the sort of leader in Iowa and the common wisdom was that he would win Iowa because he’s in the adjoining state,” Trump said. “And, you know, his numbers are not good in the adjoining state. He’s got a $2.2 billion deficit. They predicted that he’d have a big surplus of about a million and he’s got a $2.2 billion deficit and their unemployment numbers are bad and the state’s mired in the 38th place out of–in the country on productivity and lots of other things and doing poorly in job numbers.”
But Trump got it wrong. The deficit number he cites is false.
Politifact, no friend to Scott Walker, gave Trump a “mostly false” rating when Trump used a similar argument in the past, writing that the $2.2 billion “was not an actual deficit” and the projections of shortfalls were “overstated.” The explanation is simple: Those projections are based on budget requests not approved budget numbers. “That’s because the standard for projections made in the months leading up to the next budget cycle is to include all the funding requests made by state agencies -- even though, in reality, those requests always get trimmed. That serves to temporarily inflate the actual picture. In the end, the 2015-’17 budget approved by the Legislature and signed by Walker in July 2015 was balanced.”
More curious, perhaps, was Trump’s decision to turn a question about a shot Hillary Clinton took to an attack on Jeb Bush. Trump had claimed during the Fox News debate last week that he’d contributed to Hillary Clinton’s past campaigns in order to buy access. When Bret Baier asked him what, specifically, he’d received for his donations, Trump responded that he’d gotten Hillary Clinton to come to his wedding.
At a press availability in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Monday, Clinton unloaded on Trump, calling his attacks on Megyn Kelly “outrageous” and “offensive” and saying Trump “went way overboard.”
On Fox & Friends, Trump listened to a soundbite from that press conference, where Clinton said she’d gone to Trump’s wedding because she thought it’d be “entertaining,” before turning serious. “Now that he’s planning to run for president? It’s a little more troubling.”
Doocy said to Trump: “So she’s saying she went because it was the yuks, not the bucks.”
Trump, who never misses an opportunity to respond to even the slightest perceived insults, shrugged off Clinton’s shot. “Yeah, sounds like she feels she made a mistake,” he said with a deep laugh. “It’s sort of an interesting thing.” Trump repeated his claim that he simply gave money to buy access to politicians, but said now that he’s a politician he recognizes that the practice is “not really a good thing for the system.”
After passing on a chance to hit Clinton, accused Bush of selling access to his donors. “When I look at Bush raising $114 million, everybody that gave him money, every single one of those people that gave him money, is getting something. I know half of the people. Probably I know all of the people. I used to be those people. I used to be–you know I’d give to everybody. Bush has raised a lot of money. Hillary has raised a lot of money. A lot of these people have raised a lot of money. Those people that put up the money those are not people that are not expecting big, big things. And some of those things are counter to what’s good for the country.”