Donald Trump says he wants to talk about issues.
In a telephone interview on Meet the Press yesterday, Trump said he was looking forward to interviews where he could talk about policy. “I want to get back to the country,” he insisted. “We have such problems. We have unemployment that’s incredible. We need jobs. We have to get jobs back from China. That’s the subjects [sic] that I’m good at.”
But rather than offering details on his plan to get jobs back from China, Trump abruptly changed the subject to his favorite topic: Trump.
“By the way, during that whole debate, which was 24 million people, and if I wasn’t on they would have had two million people, and everybody admits that.”
Nobody has actually admitted that, of course, and while Trump is correct that he was a major factor in generating a big audience, interest in this year’s GOP contest is high even without him. The play-in debate drew six million people at 5 p.m. – an extraordinary number not only because it aired outside primetime, but also because it featured candidates all polling below 3 percent.
But facts are no impediment for a Trump with momentum and he was rolling. Trump declared once again that he wants to talk about issues and then once again changed the subject to his greatness.
“You would have had just another debate that nobody would have watched,” he said. “So, you know, that’s one of those things. But I want to get back to jobs. They didn’t ask me one question about jobs! And every single poll says I am the best by triple digits on jobs and the economy.”
A triple digit lead? In every single poll? Perhaps that’s just one of those things.
The Trump for president reality show is not built on policy. As others have noted, Trump’s campaign website doesn’t have an “issues” section. His policy pronouncements in interviews have been vague and often self-contradictory: he’s not opposed to government-run health care but he’d replace Obamacare with something terrific; he’d address trade with China by sending better negotiators; he’d handle Iraq by seizing the oil fields. And on it goes.
Trump says he’s upset that he didn’t get asked about jobs at the debate. Perhaps when he’s done remaking American politics in his image, he can require debate moderators to ask candidates only about subjects they’re “good at.” Until then, he’s going to have to answer questions about a variety of subjects, and judging by his answers to policy questions in the Fox News debate, Trump may want to think twice about encouraging more talk about issues.
Trump took three policy questions last week – one on immigration, one on health care and one on national security. He refused to answer the first, gave a head-scratching answer to the second, and on the third…well, you’ll just have to read the whole thing for yourself.
The first question came from Chris Wallace, who noted that Trump claimed the Mexican government is sending criminals, rapists and drug dealers across the border and asked Trump to provide the “evidence” he claims to have supporting these claims. “You have evidence you have refused or declined to share. Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?”
Here is Trump’s answer:
So, if it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn't even be talking about it. This was not a subject that was on anybody's mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending – except the reporters, because they're a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn't cover my statement the way I said it.
The fact is, since then, many killings, murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly. And I don't mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.