Skipping debate, Trump attacks Republican rivals, Biden in X interview

Donald Trump skipped the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and opted instead to do an interview with Tucker Carlson, a conservative former Fox News talk show host.

August 24, 2023 11:03 pm | Updated 11:03 pm IST - Washington

During the rambling pre-recorded interview, which aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the same time as the debate, Donald Trump said it did not make sense for him to take part while he was leading his rivals by “50 to 60 points” in the polls. File

During the rambling pre-recorded interview, which aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the same time as the debate, Donald Trump said it did not make sense for him to take part while he was leading his rivals by “50 to 60 points” in the polls. File | Photo Credit: AP

Donald Trump attacked his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and Democrat Joe Biden in an interview aired on Wednesday as counter-programming to his party's first primary debate.

Mr. Trump skipped the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and opted instead to do an interview with Tucker Carlson, a conservative former Fox News talk show host.

During the rambling pre-recorded interview, which aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the same time as the debate, Mr. Trump said it did not make sense for him to take part while he was leading his rivals by "50 to 60 points" in the polls.

"Do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it's going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn't even be running for president?" he said.

Mr. Trump dismissed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a "lost cause," said he was "very disappointed" by his former Vice President Mike Pence and called former New Jersey governor Chris Christie a "lunatic."

Mr. Trump touched on a wide range of subjects during the 45-minute interview which took place in a wood-paneled room at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, including being asked whether he thought Jeffrey Epstein, the U.S. financier arrested for sex crimes, had killed himself.

"I think he probably committed suicide," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump called Mr. Biden the "worst President in the history of our country" and suggested that the 80-year-old may not be the Democratic candidate come election day in November 2024.

"I don't think he's going to make it to the gate but you never know," Mr. Trump said. "I think he's worse mentally than he is physically and physically he's not exactly a triathlete.

"In many ways I'd love to run against him because his record's so bad."

Trump also dismissed his four criminal indictments calling them "trivia, nonsense, bullshit."

Trump has been indicted in New York on charges of paying hush money to a porn star, in Florida for mishandling top secret government documents and in Washington on charges of conspiring to upend his 2020 election loss.

The 77-year-old Trump is set to surrender to the authorities in Atlanta on Thursday to face racketeering charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the southern state.

Asked by Carlson what his priority would be if he wins re-election, Trump said "the first thing I would do is I would seal up the border good and tight except for people that want to come in legally."

Trump was also asked by Carlson bout the possibility of civil war or open conflict in the United States.

"I don't know," he said. "I can say this. There's a level of passion that I've never seen. There's a level of hatred that I've never seen, and that's probably a bad combination."

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