Trump: ‘Chris Christie is right’ in hot mic criticism of Haley

Donald Trump revealed Wednesday he knows his vice presidential pick already, even though he wouldn’t say who it was. The former president has choice words about Chris Christie dropping out of the race earlier in the day. And he signaled again that he thinks abortion is a political liability for Republicans.

Those were among the highlights of an hourlong Fox News town hall Wednesday night moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Trump was pressed on everything from his authoritarian rhetoric — “I am not going to be a dictator,” he declared — to millions in payments his businesses received from foreign governments during his first term.

The town hall took place at the same time Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis were debating on CNN. Trump skipped that event, as he has all the Republican primary debates.

Here are the key moments from Trump’s Fox News sitdown:

Trump reacts to Christie news and ‘hot mic’ moment

Trump kicked off the town hall by shrugging off news that Christie decided to drop out of the GOP presidential primary and any suggestion that it could hurt his odds in New Hampshire.

“I have polls that show me leading by a tremendous amount in New Hampshire and a lot in Iowa and nationwide, we’re leading by almost 60 points, so I’m not exactly worried about it,” Trump said. “I understand New Hampshire very well. I’ve won it twice and did very well with New Hampshire. I love the people, they love me.”

Trump was eager to weigh in on the viral hot mic moment, captured on a Christie campaign livestream, of the former New Jersey governor telling a group of Republicans in New Hampshire that he thought Haley is “going to get smoked” and “is not up to this.”

“I thought actually, the biggest story wasn’t the fact that he dropped out. Nobody cared too much about that. But he had a hot mic,” Trump said. “She’ll be creamed in the election, and I mean, I know very well, and I happen to believe that Chris Christie is right. That’s one of the few things he’s been right about, actually.”

Trump says he has a VP pick in mind

When asked by a DeSantis supporter whether he would be able to attract people to work for him in the White House since he “publicly criticized and personally demeaned so many of them,” Trump said he would have no problem making hires.

And he already has someone in mind for his biggest hire, vice president.

MacCallum asked who he expects his running mate to be.

“Well, I can’t tell you that really. I mean, I know who it’s going to be,” Trump said.

MacCallum pressed him to share names and asked if he would ever consider mending fences with any of his primary rivals and consider them for the spot once filled by Mike Pence.

“Oh I will. I’ve already started to like Christie better,” Trump said to laughter in the audience.

‘I am not going to be a dictator’

Trump blamed the press for blowing out of proportion comments he made in December that he would be a “dictator” for one day if he won.

“I am not going to be a dictator,” he said, complaining that the media took his comments out of context for the past month.

Trump had in the past repeatedly doubled down on his dictator comment since he first made them.

Trump was also asked by Baier what he meant when he said there could be “bedlam” in the country due to his various legal challenges earlier this week. He called the various charges he is facing in federal and state courts a political ploy, and said “of course” political violence is not acceptable when asked directly by Baier.

Trump: DeSantis would have been serving pizza without me

Trump said DeSantis wouldn’t even be in politics today if not for his endorsement of the Florida governor in 2018.

“You like Ron DeSantis, but he wouldn’t even be around today. He’d be working in a pizza shop or perhaps a law firm, if I didn’t endorse him,” Trump told a voter who said she would caucus for DeSantis.

“I endorsed him, took him from nothing to winning an election. And I was all for him, and then one day, he said he’d run against me four years later after I got him in, and I said, ‘That’s not a loyal person.’”

Trump promises ‘largest deportation effort in the history of our country’

Trump said sanctuary cities, which limit cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration law, are eventually “going to be ended” because Democrats “can’t sustain it.”

“We’re going to have the largest deportation effort in the history of our country,” he said when asked about the country’s undocumented immigrants. “We’re bringing everybody back to where they came from. We have no choice.”

Trump also touted his 2017 temporary ban on refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, claiming it prevented terrorist attacks during his term.

Trump won’t divest from businesses in second term

Trump did not commit to divesting from his businesses should he win a second term.

Baier asked Trump whether he would divest from his companies, raising a recent report from House Democrats that detailed $7.8 million in payments from foreign governments to his businesses during his time in the White House.

“I run hotels,” he said, arguing that George Washington didn’t separate from his personal holdings while he was president.

He also made a joke about President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. “I don’t get $500,000 for doing a painting,” he said, “It is not a bad idea, I guess, if you can get away with it.”

Despite campaign rhetoric, Trump says ‘I’m not going to have time for retribution’

Trump has regularly vowed to be his supporters’ “retribution.” But he told Baier that, in fact, there wouldn’t be time for retribution during a second term.

Trump said some people might think seeking retribution “wouldn’t be so bad” because of all of the “hoaxes” he faced. But he believes he’ll be too busy to bother.

“Remember this, our ultimate retribution is success,” Trump said.

Trump explains his position on abortion

As president, Trump appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he again touted Wednesday. But he has taken a less strident position on abortion than some conservatives — he has, for example, declined to support a national abortion ban and has argued in favor of exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

During the town hall, Trump offered an explanation for the more nuanced approach: The Republican Party, he said, had paid a serious political price for its opposition to abortion rights. A more moderate tack, he suggested, would appeal to a broader swath of voters.

“But we still have to win elections. And they’ve used this. You know, we have some great Republicans, and they’re great on the issue, and you would love them on the issue. And a lot of them have been decimated in the election. Decimated. I mean, absolutely,” he said.

Trump reiterated his support for exceptions, “like Ronald Reagan,” and noted that women may not know they are pregnant early on.

“A lot of women don’t know if they’re pregnant in five or six weeks. I want to get something where people are happy,” he said. “You know, this has been tearing our country apart for 50 years, nobody has been able to do anything.”


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