Jake Tapper: Trump’s Not A Counter-Puncher, “He Attacks People On Their Own All The Time”
A day after Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted out a threat to invite Gennifer Flowers to Monday night’s debate, and Flowers accepted the invitation, Trump campaign manager appeared on CNN’s State of the Union. Just like running mate Mike Pence, Conway denied that the ex-mistress of Bill Clinton would appear at the debate, stating that she had not been “formally” invited by the campaign. (Nope, just by the guy running for president.)
While speaking with host Jake Tapper, Conway noted that the whole flap was Hillary Clinton’s fault, stating that it was her campaign’s decision to give Trump rival and real-life billionaire Mark Cuban a front row seat at the debate. The potential of Cuban trolling the shit out of The Donald Monday night led to Trump merely defending himself and his honor. That is when we got the overused canard that Trump is just a counter-puncher and that he never starts anything.
Below is from the show’s transcript:
CONWAY: No, I cannot confirm that.
And I can’t believe how easily baited the Clinton campaign was. Basically, Mr. Trump was saying, look, if Mark Cuban is going to send out these texts that say the humbling at Hofstra and this is his big downfall, then Mr. Trump was putting them on notice that we could certainly invite guests that may get into the head of Hillary Clinton.
But we have not invited her formally and we don’t expect her to there as a guest of the Trump campaign. I did think it was really odd, just one day after Hillary Clinton was rebuffed by a Democratic mayor of Charlotte to please not come to Charlotte, not divert resources and not come at this time, then they exercise poor judgment the very next day by putting out a statement by the Clinton campaign about Gennifer Flowers and what this meant with Donald Trump, that it shows he’s easily provoked.
No, the easily provoked people here were the Clinton campaign. So, it’s very poor judgment. But, look, we’re going to talk about the issues that face America. That’s what the debate is.
I can understand why Hillary Clinton wants a billionaire in the front row. That’s just another Monday night for her. But we’re going to talk — we’re taking the case directly to the American people tomorrow night.
TAPPER: Just as a point of fact, I think both Trump and Clinton were talking about visiting Charlotte, and the mayor said that they didn’t have the resources for either one to visit.
But I think it’s curious, and probably a lot of viewers are wondering, you think that what’s odd is the Clinton campaign’s reaction to Donald Trump tweeting about somebody that her husband had an affair with decades ago, not the fact that Donald Trump tweeted something about someone the nominee’s husband had an affair with decades ago?
CONWAY: It seems odd — it seems odd that they would give it life and breath, since you just said three times in a row that Governor Clinton had an affair with her. I didn’t say it, but now a lot of Americans…
At that point, a clearly exasperated Tapper, after already noting that it was pretty strange that Conway was hitting back at the Clinton campaign for responding to the news rather than the fact her candidate just invited Flowers personally, pointed out that Trump was the one who brought up Flowers in the first place. Conway, in perfect spin doctor mode, pivoted to saying Trump only wants to address policy issues. (Ha!)
The CNN anchor, undeterred, told the veteran pollster that the former reality TV star is constantly going negative on Clinton. If he then asked if Trump planned on bringing up Bill Clinton’s infidelities during the debate, something he’s hinted about in Fox News interviews and rally speeches. After saying Trump will only answer the questions moderator Lester Holt presents, she then brought up the counter-puncher argument.
“There’s — there’s no — there’s no plan to do that. I’m not going to reveal what we have been doing in our debate conversations. But the fact is that he has every right to be defend himself.
You know, he — he’s always — he’s always, constantly attacked, and then the moment he counterpunches, then people are just shocked that he would do that, he would try to defend himself.
But he will answer the questions, as we certainly hope that the questions go to policy. Answer the questions that the American people have. They deserve and expect these candidates to be talking about the issues.”
Finally, before moving onto another subject, Tapper made sure his audience knew that what Conway said was a bald-faced lie and that Trump isn’t a poor victim who never provokes attacks.
“You say he only counterpunches. And I know that that’s kind of like the methodology of the Trump campaign. But the truth is, he attacks people on their own all the time without being provoked.
Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife, is a perfect example. Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, is a perfect example.”
Below is video of the exchange, courtesy of CNN: