Trump “I want to win New Hampshire, but I don’t think I have to win it”
Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Donald Trump, GOP presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the Iowa Caucuses, the New Hampshire Primary, and advanced interrogation techniques.
For more information, see https://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Trump on how he needs to perform in the New Hampshire Primary: “I think I’m going to do very well. I have a great relationship between the vets and all of the people of New Hampshire. They just seem to be very positive for me. They have known me for a long time. And they’re great people. I think I’m going to do very well in New Hampshire. But, no, I don’t — I don’t think — I want to win New Hampshire, but I don’t think I have to win it, no.”
Trump on his performance in the Iowa Caucuses: “There wasn’t a loss. I came in second. And I only came in second because of the fact that Cruz took a lot of votes away from Carson that should not have been taken away. I mean, he’s apologized, but I don’t know what comes of that. Let’s see what happens. But that was the only reason I came in second. So, I came in second out of the original 17 candidates. I don’t consider that a loss, Jake, and I probably came in first in actuality… And my second-place finish, which, again, I say was first-place — but my second-place finish had more votes than anybody in the history of that whole thing — history. That includes everybody, other than Cruz.”
Trump explains his view on enhanced interrogation techniques: [TAPPER]: “How would you bring it back, if it is currently a war crime under U.S. law?”
[TRUMP]: “Well, I would go through a process and get it declassified, frankly. And I would — certainly water-boarding at a minimum. They’re chopping off heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East. They’re chopping heads off. They laugh at us when they hear that we’re not going to approve water-boarding, and then they will have a James Foley and others where they cut off their heads… when they’re chopping off the heads of people, and innocent people in most cases, beyond water-boarding is fine with me.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We are live in New Hampshire, just two days before the crucial primary here, with a show so jam-packed full of presidential candidates, we are not even going to stop for a commercial break. There’s so much on the line for the contenders on both sides.
Can Hillary Clinton stop Bernie Sanders’ momentum in this state? Will Trump prove he can win primaries and not just polls? And will New Hampshire narrow the crowded Republican field?
With tensions running high, the Republicans faced off for one last time before the Granite State votes.
The debate got off to something of a rocky start, with the candidates awkwardly piling up. Apparently, one or two were unable to hear their names called.
But, once all of them were on stage, the gloves came off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me just — you know, he wants to be a tough guy.
A lot of times, you will have — you will have — and it doesn’t work very well with…
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How tough is it to take…
BUSH: … property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: Let me talk. Let me talk. Quiet.
TRUMP: A lot of times — a lot of times…
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And while the candidates were lobbing bombs at one another, North Korea launched a satellite into space, an action the U.S. government condemned as destabilizing and provocative. The move is seen by many countries as a front for a ballistic missile test, although a senior U.S. defense official says it does not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies.
So, lots to talk about this morning. Let’s go right to the man at the top of the Republican pack here in New Hampshire, Donald Trump, who joins me by the phone.
Mr. Trump, thanks for joining us.
DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good. Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Let’s start with last night’s debate. A lot of pundits and analysts say you did well, Christie did well. A lot of them also seem to think that Marco Rubio had a rough night. What did you make of his performance?
TRUMP: Well, I don’t want to criticize anybody.
I know he had the one moment where he would repeat about Obama, and, after four times, that was a lot. And so that was a little bit — but, you know, I just — I’m not one to comment on somebody else’s performance.
I was really happy with the way it came out from my standpoint.
TAPPER: You seem to be not as critical of your rivals as you have been in the past.
I mean, there are criticisms you made about Jeb Bush, about Ted Cruz being afraid of attacking you. But, generally, you seem to be holding your fire a little bit.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t know. I’m — I’m trying to be a nice person. I am a nice person.
I have had good relationships with many people over the years. And, you know, politics is an interesting thing. I have been doing this for seven months, and I’m having a lot of fun doing it. But, much more importantly, you know, my whole theme is make America great again. That’s what we have to do. We have to make America great again.
And, you know, I’m really enjoying it. I love New Hampshire. It’s — you know I have been here many times prior to the electoral process. But I have really loved the — New Hampshire and the people of New Hampshire for a long period of time. And I seem to be connecting with them, I hope.
TAPPER: I want to follow up on a question and answer from last night.
You said — quote — “I would bring back water-boarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than water-boarding.”
Now, as I understand it, the law, as amended in 2006, bans treatment of a captured enemy that causes — quote — “serious and nontransitory mental harm which need not be prolonged.” It calls it cruel and inhumane and it makes it punishable as a war crime, and this includes water-boarding, including — according to the authors of the act.
How would you bring it back, if it is currently a war crime under U.S. law?
TRUMP: Well, I would go through a process and get it declassified, frankly.
And I would — certainly water-boarding at a minimum. They’re chopping off heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East. They’re chopping heads off. They laugh at us when they hear that we’re not going to approve water-boarding, and then they will have a James Foley and others where they cut off their heads.
And, you know, you can say what you want. I have no doubt that it does work in terms of information and other things, and maybe not always, but nothing works always. But I have no doubt that it works.
But, more importantly, when they’re chopping off the heads of people, and innocent people in most cases, beyond water-boarding is fine with me.
TAPPER: You have enjoyed some big leads in the polls here in New Hampshire for many months. You’re still on top of the polls. Is Tuesday must-win after the loss in Iowa?
TRUMP: There wasn’t a loss. I came in second. And I only came in second because of the fact that Cruz took a lot of votes away from Carson that should not have been taken away. I mean, he’s apologized, but I don’t know what comes of that. Let’s see what happens.
But that was the only reason I came in second. So, I came in second out of the original 17 candidates. I don’t consider that a loss, Jake, and I probably came in first in actuality.
TAPPER: OK. But do you need to win here in New Hampshire, you think?
TRUMP: Well, I hope to win. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I came in second. I picked up a lot of delegates. And, you know, I picked up one less than Cruz, and maybe that gets turned over. Who knows what’s going to happen?
But I picked up a lot of delegates in Iowa. And in New Hampshire, I think I’m going to do very well. I have a great relationship between the vets and all of the people of New Hampshire. They just seem to be very positive for me. They have known me for a long time. And they’re great people. I think I’m going to do very well in New Hampshire.
But, no, I don’t — I don’t think — I want to win New Hampshire, but I don’t think I have to win it, no.
TAPPER: You mentioned Ted Cruz taking votes from Ben Carson at the debate last night. You have talked about it on the trail. You have also talked about that voter form, the voter — voter-shaming document that Cruz sent out that the Iowa secretary of state criticized him for.
Are you driving at a larger criticism of Ted Cruz? Or are these just tactics you take issue with? Are you saying that there’s something about him that is being revealed by these tactics?
TRUMP: Well, I think a voter violation form, which looked like it came from the IRS — I mean, it looked like it came from a government agency — was a fraud.
But I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m thinking only of New Hampshire and the people of New Hampshire. I’m going to be here all for the next three, four days. And I’m going to love it, and then we’re going to go to South Carolina. And, you know, we had — I was there two nights ago. We had 12,000 people in a stadium that was amazing. It was like an amazing evening in Florence.
And we had — you know, I think we’re going to do well there. And we’re pretty much doing well everywhere. So, I just — the — hey, look, the theme is make America great again. And everybody wants it. And they want to see intelligence. They want to see good deals, not bad deals.
We don’t — we don’t win anymore. And I tell it over. I mean, we don’t win anymore as a country. We don’t win on trade. We don’t win on war. We don’t win with ISIS. We don’t win on health care. And we’re going to start winning again.
And people see that, and they — they like it. That’s what they want.
TAPPER: After Iowa, you said you didn’t have much of a ground game in that state and that you would fix that in New Hampshire.
“The Wall Street Journal” today is reporting that you’re still relying a great deal on your star power, and not as much on a data-driven voter targeting and get-out-the-vote effort. Could that be a mistake?
TRUMP: Well, you know, if you think about Iowa — and, you know, I didn’t know the term ground game too much. And I think we had a ground game, maybe not the greatest ground game.
But I did get more votes than anybody in the history of the Republican caucus, other than one, because, you know, the voters — number one, we had 50,000 people more voting. But my second-place finish, which was substantially second-place — I mean, Rubio wasn’t that close.
And my second-place finish, which, again, I say was first-place — but my second-place finish had more votes than anybody in the history of that whole thing — history. That includes everybody, other than Cruz.
And, you know, Rubio came in third, and by 2,000 — more than 2,000 votes back. That’s a lot, as you know, with the numbers in Iowa. That’s a lot. And everybody said how great he did and I didn’t. And I’m trying to say, I’m not even a politician. I just started being a politician seven months ago, if I can call myself a politician, which I would rather not.
So, I think we did great in Iowa. And I don’t call that a loss, I mean, coming in second. A lot of people — a lot of governors and senators that came in way behind would have liked to have come in second. That, I can tell you. So, I don’t think you can really call that a loss, do you think?
TAPPER: One of these — well, I think — I mean, if you want — if you’re actually asking my opinion, I think one of the issues might have been the expectations game, where you were leading in the polls, in several polls, and people thought you were going to win Iowa.
And then you’re right. Second place is much better than every other place except for first. But then by…
TRUMP: Well, I can’t help, though, the expectations.
You — yes, hey, Jake, you know, I spoke to you, and you asked me, are you going to win? And I said, I don’t know.
Now, I will say this with Iowa. I will say that it’s very tough to poll caucuses. It’s a very different ball game, whereas, in New Hampshire, you know, you’re going to go in and vote. And I think it’s much different. And I think it’s also a different kind of a ground game. It’s not the same kind of a ground game.
But, look, all I can do is — I think I did really well at the debate. Most people said I won the debate. Almost everybody said I won the debate last night. I mean, we had a very — we had a good debate. And that was very important for me. I think, if I would have had a poor debate performance, that would not have been good.
TAPPER: In New Hampshire, it’s interesting, of course. Independents are the biggest political group here, and they can vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary.
And, for that reason, you and Bernie Sanders in some ways are both competing hard for some of the same independent voters. Are you surprised that you’re competing with Bernie Sanders? And what’s your message to those independent voters who might be trying to decide between you and the Vermont senator?
TRUMP: Well, it’s very interesting that you say that, because the one thing we very much agree on is trade. We both agree that we’re getting ripped off by China, by Japan, by Mexico, by everybody we do business with.
The difference is, I can do something about it. I’m going to renegotiate those trade deals and make them good. And, believe me, they’re going to be really good. I have got the greatest people in the world. I have Carl Icahn endorsed me, the great businessman. I have many other great businessmen are endorsing me or have endorsed me.
And I will tell you, we will make them good. Bernie can’t do anything about it, because it’s not his thing. He won’t be able to do anything about it. I will create absolute gold out of those deals, whereas, right now, we’re losing tens of billions and even hundreds of billions of dollars. I will create gold, and Bernie will just talk about how bad they are.
TAPPER: You said this week — quote — “I’m a unifier,” and you said you would bring the country together if you won.
A lot of people out there might have a difficult time believing that, given how divided the nation has been about your candidacy. How will you bring the nation together? How will you unify the nation, especially after some of the things you have said about citizens that many have found objectionable?
TRUMP: Well, I am a unifier. And our current president is an absolute divider. He’s a very divisive person. And you look at the way the country is so divided.
People are going to be shocked to see. We will bring the country together. I’m going to bring jobs from China, from Japan, from Mexico, from Vietnam. We’re losing so much of our — you know, so much of our business, so many of our jobs. And we’re also now starting to lose companies.
I don’t know if you read where Pfizer is leaving and great companies are leaving because our taxes are so high. And I will be able to change and stem that tide very quickly. I know exactly what to do. These politicians don’t know what to do. And that’s why the people are on my side.
Politicians don’t know what to do, Jake. They don’t have a clue. When I say we’re going to strengthen the border and we’re going to build a wall, last night, a couple of guys said, we’re going to build a wall. It’s first time I had ever heard anybody say that. Now they’re all saying, we’re going to build a wall.
First of all, they wouldn’t even know how to build a wall. They wouldn’t get it. Their wall would be 5-feet-high. We’re going to build a real wall. And it’s going to be done not at our cost. It’s going to be done at somebody else’s cost, and you know who I’m talking about. And it’s going to be done.
They make a fortune on us. And we’re going to build a wall, and we’re not going to pay for it.
TAPPER: Last question, sir.
I’m just wondering, has this experience of running for president, so different from anything you have done before, has it changed you in any way?
TRUMP: Well, perhaps it has. I have learned a lot. I will tell you what I have learned. The people in this country are amazing. They’re great.
When I go to these rallies and I meet the people that are, you know, supporting me, they’re incredible. And my level of support — you know, it’s sort of interesting. You do the polls all the time. The people that are with me are we me. They’re with me through thick and thin. These are great people.
But the people of our country are great people. There’s no reason to have Apple in China making their computers. We’re going to try bringing Apple back here, so that we can make the computers in this country. We have amazing people. And it’s sad to see all of this product, all of these things being made, you know, in other countries.
We’re going to get it back here. We’re going to bring it back here. The other countries, and in particular China, they devalue their currency, they do all sorts of games and tricks that make it very tough for companies like Apple — like Apple to do it here.
But we’re going to bring companies and we’re going to bring the jobs back here, where they belong. And we’re going to do it big league, and people know that and people see that, in addition to the military and the vets and all of the other things that we’re going to do. And health care, we’re going to repeal Obamacare, replace it.
We have so many things to do. It’s going to be so exciting. We can make — you know, the theme being to make it great again. We can make our country great again. I honestly believe that, if we do it now, we can make it greater than ever before.
TAPPER: Donald Trump, thanks so much for joining us. We will see you on the campaign trail. Good luck on Tuesday.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Jake.