Trump’s morning: Soft questions from Fox, tougher at CNN
Donald Trump started his Tuesday morning with a wet kiss from Fox and a stick in the eye from CNN.
The Republican frontrunner was in speed-dial overdrive as he called into the two networks' morning shows and, whatever the question, spoke his mind, even if it wasn't in direct response to the question.
It was a window onto different ways for the media to deal with Trump and, for now, the Herculean task of pinning him down.
His surfacing on "Fox & Friends" was superficially more notable, given his anger toward Fox News after last week's first Republican debate. His spat with show host Megyn Kelly became news and prompted a call from Fox boss Roger Ailes on Monday that resulted in both sides saying relations were now fine.
Trump's olive branch was the early Fox appearance that involved mostly solicitous questions and responses of little note. He bashed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as beholden to donors and repeated how donors all want something in return.
"I used to be those people," he said, alluding to his past donations to many candidates.
When he was done, including waffling on how he'd change the tax code, co-host Steve Doocy thanked him and said, "Good to have you back."
One assumes it was heartfelt, especially given reported anxiety within Fox over whether Trump rage could impact viewers who like him.
It was a matter of minutes before he was on the phone to CNN for a very feisty, and unexpectedly long, session of what came to resemble C-SPAN-like duration. There, the tenor was distinctly different as "New Day" co-host Chris Cuomo played both interrogator and pro bono political adviser as he occasionally chided him for his obvious lack of specificity on a range of issues.
Trump largely repeated his mantra of "returning" America to greatness and of how the Obama administration is incompetent. He again called the nuclear deal with Iran "one of the dumbest deals in world history."
He was all over the place on various issues, including yanking federal funding from Planned Parenthood (he'd be for some yanking but partly praised the organization). But Cuomo was nimble in at least trying to pin him down.
Trump ducked Cuomo's prodding on equal pay for women, trying to marry his claim of "cherishing women" with adoration for a free market system.
"The concept of it, I love. I just don't want it to be a negative where everybody ends up making the same pay. That's just not our system."
He then talked (and talked) about all the women executives in his organization who make more money than the men. He spoke of having women run major construction projects for him.
Cuomo then put on somewhat of a self-appointed political consultant's hat. As he did several times during what was almost a half-hour appearance by Trump, he urged the candidate to disclose specifics about pay at his organization. Cuomo said that would be smart, politically, for the candidate.
That was part and parcel of Cuomo, a member of a famous political family, invoking a candidate's need to exhibit real proposals to an electorate. Trump clearly wasn't having much of that, touting the need to be flexible and, on several matters, indicating that he was developing detailed ideas he'd share later in the campaign.
Cuomo was rhetorically effective in stopping Trump on multiple occasions and underscoring his unadulterated hyperbole. Did it matter, though, to any prospective voters who were watching?
One example was Trump's claim that he could negotiate a deal that was "a hundred times better" with Iran. And how he could vanquish ISIS and also deal with Vladimir Putin.
"There is a tendency to oversimplify situations," Cuomo said in a polite but pointed understatement. He ended by underscoring what he feels is the need for voters to have "a central set of ideas" from Trump, including disclosing "how many people you'd put in these bad places," a reference to getting tough on ISIS.
It was inarguable, Cuomo said, that "you have tapped into something that matters," but that put an onus on Trump to deliver specifics.
Trump, however, was undeterred, falling back on the assertion that he's not a politician, "I am the opposite" and that, somehow, he'll find fixes for all our problems.
Trump will probably remain the GOP frontrunner by day's end. At the moment, his Teflon shield seems ample.