U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shot back after President Barack Obama criticized his suggestion that South Korea and Japan should have their own nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a rally in Racine, Wisconsin, on Saturday, Trump restated his opposition to the current North Atlantic Treaty Organization structure. He also assailed what he termed a “double standard” by the media, and said his recent comments about whether women might be punished for having abortions, in particular, were being parsed and criticized in a way statements from other candidates aren’t.
The former host of NBC’s reality show “The Apprentice” spoke in advance of Wisconsin’s presidential primary on April 5. Trump is trailing Texas Senator Ted Cruz, according to a summary of
recent opinion polls by Real Clear Politics.
Without naming Trump, Obama
said on Friday that comments about letting the two Asian countries acquire nuclear arsenals demonstrate a lack of knowledge about foreign policy “or the world generally.”
Trump said he was talking about making sure that Japan and other countries, including NATO members, pay their fair share for defense — and that eventually, they’ll probably want the weapons anyway.
‘The Right Deal’
“I didn’t say anything about letting Japan nuke,” Trump said. “But I did say, perhaps if we can’t do the right deal, we’ll have to let them take care of themselves.”
The real estate mogul also expanded on his comments about NATO being obsolete and the U.S. carrying too much water in defense of other countries, saying he’d be willing to let the alliance disband if other nations don’t pay more.
“They’re ripping off the United States, and they’re ripping you off,” Trump said. “Either they pay up, including their past deficiencies, or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”
Trump’s comments have gotten wide play and Obama, in response to a question at a news conference in Washington concluding a two-day nuclear security summit, said it was a topic of conversations he had on the sidelines of the meeting.
“People pay attention to American elections. What we do is really important to the rest of the world,” Obama said. Even nations where elections sometimes take on a carnival-like atmosphere “want sobriety and clarity when it comes to U.S. elections.”
Trump is making a final campaign blitz in Wisconsin, a state that could boost efforts by opponents trying to prevent him from amassing the 1,237 delegates needed for the Republican nomination before the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.
Forces seeking to derail Trump are hoping Tuesday’s winner-take-most vote in Wisconsin will build momentum for an effort to force a contested convention. A Marquette Law School
poll taken March 24-28 showed Trump losing to Cruz in Wisconsin by 40 percent to 30 percent, with Ohio Governor John Kasich third at 21 percent.
After starting the rally in Racine bragging about the free media coverage he gets, Trump ended by complaining about how he’s doing better in some parts of the state than others because of “misinformation” being spread by radio-talk show hosts.
“In certain areas, in the city areas, I’m not doing well, and I’m not doing well because nobody knows my message,” Trump said at the rally, which according to police was attended by about 1,100 people.
Trump is airing a radio ad in the Badger State that he said is meant to set the record straight about his tax proposal and other issues. He complained about “crazy radio talk-show hosts” in Milwaukee who are backing Cruz.
“There’s such lying in this world of politics,” Trump said.