Real estate mogul Donald Trump played the role of the Solomonic candidate Sunday, trying to have it both ways amid a range of social, economic and political issues as he chalks up better-than-expected poll numbers ahead of the GOP’s 2016 presidential primary contests.
Mr. Trump, whose been cast as a carnival barker and a dark-horse threat in early primary states, said he loves the Mexican people and does business with them, but he complained that their leaders allow rapists and murders to filter into the U.S.
“Mexico treats us as if we’re stupid people, which of course, our leaders are,” Mr. Trump told CNN’s “State of the Union” in a lengthy interview featuring the business magnate’s stream of consciousness.
Mr. Trump believes in clean air and would like to make clothing in the U.S., but he’s skeptical of climate change claims and feels that stringent environmental rules make it harder for American factories to compete with those in Asia.
“My ties, many times, are made in China,” he said of his fashion line.
He also wants to bomb oil fields to choke off the Islamic State’s economic power in Iraq and Syria, but he doesn’t give a hoot about the Iraqi government.
“They’re corrupt,” he said.
He also has supported universal health coverage, but he’s not into the single-payer idea anymore, and he thinks people should be able to shop for insurance across states lines.
CNN polling showed Mr. Trump in second place among the crowded GOP field, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, a pivotal primary state.
He insisted the rest of the GOP primary field respects him, even as he has taken personal shots at his competitors.
Mr. Trump’s Sunday showcase arrived days after he caused outrage among Hispanic groups last week with his line about rapists and murderers from Mexico.
Spanish-language channel Univision said it would no longer air the Miss USA contest, a Trump-backed event that occurs next month.
Mr. Trump didn’t back off Sunday, saying Mexico needs to build a wall along the border with the U.S. — and pay for it — although he praised the country’s economic savvy and other qualities.
“I like Mexico,” he said. “I love the Mexican people.”
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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