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Donald Trump was noticeably distracted during an hourlong interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday. The cause? The Republican nominee was watching cable news coverage of his own presidential campaign.
Philip Rucker, who conducted the interview over lunch with Trump at the real estate mogul’s golf club in northern Virginia, told Yahoo News on Wednesday that Trump was “easily distracted” by the television behind him.
“He was seated so that right behind me was the television screen tuned to Fox News,” Rucker explained. “And every time Fox showed Donald Trump on the screen or a statement that Trump had made or they had a reporter doing a live shot in front of Trump Tower in New York, Donald Trump commented on it. He was very excited to see himself on the TV. So he was not fully focused on the interview.”
RUCKER: Even though on a couple of these instances he’s shown some daylight with you, like over the Khan —
TRUMP: [Trump watches himself on TV] Lot of energy. We got a lot of energy. She certainly doesn’t look presidential to me, Hillary. I don’t think you get to look less presidential, actually, than Hillary.
RUCKER: Well, half the people in your rallies are veterans.
TRUMP: [Looks at the television again] Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long. That’s why their ratings are through the roof. I’d hate to say, Philip, if I wasn’t running, the television networks would be doing less than half the business.
TRUMP: I got more votes than anybody in the history of Republican politics. By millions. Don’t forget. How about if I had two people in the race? The number would’ve been twice as good. In other words, people with 2 million people. Because the Republican Party increased. [Trump looks at the TV.] That statement’s gotten a lot of play. I love that statement we wrote. So I’m just not quite there yet.
During the interview, Rucker asked Trump if he would endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is running for reelection in Wisconsin. Trump’s response ignited a firestorm, as Republicans wondered why their own party’s nominee was going out of his way to widen his rift with Ryan.
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said, before echoing Ryan’s comments about him during the GOP primary. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
And, as he did the day before, Trump also criticized CNN.
“I mean CNN is all Trump all the time. It’s called the Clinton News Network. Every story is Trump. All day long, no matter what it is,” he said. “I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t do interviews with CNN anymore because its not worth it. It’s very biased against me.”
Ed Rollins, co-chairman the pro-Trump super-PAC Great America, told Fox Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends” that Trump watches too much television.
“I think one of Donald Trump’s singular difficulties with this campaign is that he sits and watches TV all day long and feels he has to react to every single thing that’s said against him,” Rollins said Wednesday. “Sometimes great racehorses can’t stay on the track, they wander all over the place, they [need to put] blinders on them. We need to put blinders on Donald Trump, and his focus needs to be on Mrs. Clinton. And any other Republican, he just leaves alone.”