Donald Trump’s TODAY town hall: Guns, ISIS — and the last time he ate McDonald’s
Donald Trump brought his brash, unapologetic presidential campaign to New Hampshire on Monday for a "pancakes and politics" town hall meeting with voters, hosted by TODAY's Matt Lauer.
Trump was asked about a segment in his book, "The Art of the Deal," where he said he would do nearly anything within legal bounds to secure victory. Asked if he would be willing to make campaign promises that he couldn't keep as president, Trump said he wouldn't need to.
"I don't think I have to do that. Everything I say, I can do. Everything I say, I will abide by," he said. He said his promises, after a four-year term in office, would be legitimate. It won't be like a "Bergdahl swap," where the U.S. government secured the release of an American prisoner of war in exchange for releasing five Taliban prisoners."I will abide by everything that I'm saying on the campaign trail."
One undecided voter told Trump she and others like her would vote for him "if only you would eat a piece of humble pie once in a while." Asked if Trump could share what weaknesses he had, the candidate declined because "then I'd expose the weaknesses to Putin and then everybody else and we don't want to do that, right?
After being asked whether, outside of his family, he had been told "no," Trump said he had plenty of times, especially by family members who questioned his business acumen."It's not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars," he said, noting he paid the loan back with interest.
On the Syrian refugee crisis, Trump said he would "take a big swatch of land" in Syria and contribute to building safe zones for people who otherwise would seek other nations for shelter. He would especially force the rich Gulf nations to contribute the most.
"We have to help these people, I'm okay with it, but they're not coming to the United States." He also criticized President Obama's proposal to allow 250,000 Syrian refugees into the nation. "This could be the greatest Trojan horse of all time," he said, suggesting some of those refugees could be terrorist fighting for ISIS.
The biggest misconception about Donald Trump? "Number 1 is my hair…may not be pretty but it's mine." He also admitted he can relate to average Americans, saying he has eaten at McDonald's and driven himself in a car. Trump said he knows how to deal with foreign leaders — even without his trademark insults.
That, he said, may be another misconception about him."I could be more politically correct than anybody in politics if I wanted to," he said. But he added the reason why he's doing so well nationally is that "people are tired of this political correctness."
Trump promised to build a "military so strong, so powerful, so everything" that other nations — particularly Iran and Iraq — wouldn't even consider challenging the United States. "I would knock the hell out of ISIS," he promised, but if Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to go over the terrorist group leaders first, "I'm fine with that."
Is Donald Trump not nice enough to be president? "I really am a nice person," he insisted, although he said that quality is irrelevant for presidential politics. "It's not going to be about niceness. It's going to be about competence."
"I do my own tweets 90 percent" of the time, the GOP front-runner says of his social media accounts.
"I think I'm winning in Iowa," Trump says of his standing in recent polls. The real estate mogul also questioned the accuracy of polls putting Carson ahead of him in Iowa, saying "I don't believe I did fall behind."
The Republican front-runner has led national presidential primary polls since he entered the race, but has watched his lead slip recently among Iowa voters recently to opponent Carson.
That has prompted the billionaire businessman in the past several days to raise the issue of Carson's Seventh-day Adventist faith, as well as criticize the energy level of the retired neurosurgeon as "low."
Carson pulled ahead of Trump in Iowa, which hold's the nation's first presidential caucus next year, in polls last week by Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register and Quinnipiac University.