A day after their respective victories in the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk show circuit — and offered a preview of what their presidential matchup might look like come November — even as the frontrunners tried to manage expectations.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trump predicted he will face the former secretary of state in the general election.
“I think it’s going to be Hillary and myself,” he said. “Frankly, if she gets indicted, that’s the only way she’s going to be stopped.”
But on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Trump said he wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t get the GOP nomination.
“Look, I’m competing against professional politicians, senators, top of the line,” the real estate mogul said. “I know Ben Carson is still in it. He’s a terrific guy. A talented guy. So I’m competing against a lot of really good people.”
In her own “State of the Union” interview, Clinton insisted she wasn’t looking ahead to a potential general election face-off with Trump. Instead, the former first lady acknowledged she has work to do to convince voters she’s trustworthy.
“I understand that voters have questions — I’m going to do my very best to answer those questions. I think there’s an underlying question that maybe is really in the back of people’s minds, and that is, ‘Is she in it for us or is she in it for herself?’” Clinton said. “I think that’s a question that people are trying to sort through. And I’m going to demonstrate that I’ve always been the same person, I’ve always been fighting for the same values, fighting to make a difference in people’s lives, long before I was in elected office, even before my husband was in the presidency.”
On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Trump pointed to his inexperience in politics, saying he wasn’t prepared for the last-second onslaught of negative ads attacking him before the South Carolina primary.
“I said to myself, ‘Wow, this is a tough business,’” Trump said. “These people are worse than Manhattan real estate developers. This is rough stuff, politics.”
On CNN, Trump singled out Jeb Bush for some of those 11th-hour ads but also offered the former Florida governor — who bowed out of the race Saturday — something unusual: a compliment.
“It was really just not his time. You know, four years ago, I think he would have won,” Trump said. “But this was not really his time.”
In the lead-up to the South Carolina primary, Trump clashed with Bush over his brother’s handling of 9/11 and the Iraq War.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump dismissed comments he made on “The Howard Stern Show” in 2002 when he offered tepid support of the war in Iraq.
“I really don’t even know what I [meant] because it was a long time ago, and who knows what was in my head,” Trump said. “I think that it wasn’t done correctly. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been done at all. It was sort of, it was just done. We dropped bombs.”
— Meet the Press (@meetthepress) February 21, 2016
But on “Face the Nation,” Trump boasted about his “great knowledge for the military.”
“I have better vision for Syria than a lot of the so-called great military geniuses that are saying how to fight the war with Syria,” he said. “And in my opinion, they’re doing just the opposite. I mean, are we going to start World War III over Syria? Are we going to be there for the next 40 years? We’ve been there for 15 years in the Middle East and much more than that, probably.”
Over on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said his lead in the Republican primary is making it “highly, highly unlikely” that he’ll run as an independent — something he has long threatened to do.
“I signed a pledge,” he said. “I’m a Republican. I’m the leading Republican by a lot and that’s where I want to be. I don’t want to run as an independent. I’m not going to be doing that.”
The brash billionaire also said he “can” behave presidentially and that he will start to do so “pretty soon.”
Despite their victories Saturday, Trump and Clinton weren’t the only candidates taking a victory lap. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who narrowly edged out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the battle for second place in South Carolina, sounded like he had won.
“I think last night was the beginning of a real Republican primary,” Rubio said on “State of the Union.” “We went through the semifinals and the quarterfinals. And I think you’re now down to probably a core of about three candidates who are running full-scale national campaigns.”
“We have a national campaign,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “And I feel great about it, especially after last night.”
“The consequences are extraordinary if we get this election wrong,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And Republicans need to nominate someone who’s going to unify the party, who’s going to grow the party and who’s going to win this election.”
“Our next president has to be someone that can bring this country together, some level of unity,” he continued. “Not unanimity — we’re not going to agree on every issue — but someone that will seek to unite Americans, not pit us against each other. And that’s the kind of campaign I tried to run, that’s the kind of president I’ll be. I’ll be a president for all Americans.”
Rubio also dismissed a report by the Huffington Post that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney was set to endorse his campaign.
“I’ve spoken to Gov. Romney,” Rubio said. “He is not set to endorse me, and if he were, we wouldn’t be announcing it on the Huffington Post.”