Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was a guest on ABC’s Face the Nation on Sunday to discuss the presidential campaign with host John Dickerson. It didn’t take long for things to grow heated as Manafort fought to defend his candidate, from Dickerson’s tough questioning. Manafort finally drilled down to his central problem with Dickerson’s line of questioning… he was simply repeating the Clinton campaign’s talking points.
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John Dickerson: All right, but I got to ask you, though, it does seem as if the temperament question is coming into play. In the last three days, he’s gone after Gold Star parents personally and you’ve had to backtrack there and you, yourself, just did it. He called a former NATO general, John Allen, a failed general, referred to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a little man. I got to ask you, why all these insults? Does that not raise a temperament issue? I assume you would not be advising him to go about responding in this way.
Paul Manafort: Well, Chuck, you’re now repeating the talking points of the Clinton campaign. This is not a temperament issue. The Clinton campaign needs to try to make it into a temperament issue for one reason because they know that over 70 percent of the American people don’t believe a thing she says. And so, therefore, her putting up policies that she’s going to do have no credibility.
Her talking about the Obama Administration has done a great job and deserves an A on the economy. I mean, please, let’s talk to American families and sit around the dinner table at night figuring how to pay their bills. The American economy is not in good shape; productivity is failing.
The day after her convention, the Department of Commerce printed out the latest second quarter growth, 1.2 percent. The country’s not working. It’s not about temperament. That’s the only issue that Clinton can try and get you, the media, to cover in hopes of ignoring what the real issues of this election are.
Paul Manafort:The American people are smarter than that…
John Dickerson: We can only cover the campaign in front of us and what the candidate says and I guess my question is, you brought up the GDP, he’s bringing up other stuff. And I guess the question is: What is Mr. Trump focused on? And if he gets distracted like this, why shouldn’t this be an issue that concerns voters of him in the Oval Office if he can so easily get distracted by personal criticism?
Paul Manafort: He’s not distracted. You are covering the wrong things. I mean, look at the DNC hack. I mean, the issue there that you focused on was the election was rigged against Sanders and would Sanders delegates be upset? That wasn’t the issue. The issue was lack of moral conviction on the part of the Clinton campaign that worked with the DNC to rig the system.
Did you talk about the moral clarity of that decision? When Mr. Trump talked about, “Isn’t it ironic that foreign countries and foreign enemies of ours might have the 33,000 emails that the F.B.I. doesn’t have?” Did you focus on that fact, the risk of national security? No. So the issues are in front of you, you’re just talking the Clinton narrative and not focusing on the issues that affect the American people.