Donald Trump Defends Not Accepting Melania Speechwriter's Resignation
"We all make mistakes. And I think it was terrific how she just came forward and said, 'Look, it was a mistake that I made,' and she thought it was very unfair to Melania," the GOP presidential candidate told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that aired on Thursday's 'Good Morning America.'
When Donald Trump didn't accept the resignation of his wife's speechwriter, Meredith McIver, after it was revealed that she accidentally copied some of Michelle Obama's 2008 remarks for Melania Trump's speech on Monday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the move seemed to come as a surprise to those who called on (or expected) the campaign to fire whoever was responsible for the plagiarism scandal.
Speaking to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that aired on Thursday's Good Morning America, the GOP presidential candidate reiterated the same message that he reportedly told McIver: Everyone makes mistakes.
"She's been with me a long time. She's a very good person," Trump said of McIver. "She came to see me because she hated to see the conflict and she made a mistake. People make mistakes. You've made mistakes. We all make mistakes. And I think it was terrific how she just came forward and said, 'Look, it was a mistake that I made,' and she thought it was very unfair to Melania."
When asked how his wife is dealing with the scandal, Trump indicated she's tough and that he thinks the moment has passed.
"How she's handling all of this — It's a different world. Who would ever think to this extent, no matter where you move, no matter where you breathe, it's like a big deal. But she handles it well. She's a strong woman, she's a good woman. I thought she made an incredible speech," he said. "Now that cloud has lifted off her, which I think was very unfair."
And Trump appreciated that, as he saw it, the media didn't blame her for what happened.
"Interestingly, the press treated Melania very well because they didn't think it was her," he said.
Trump also previewed his Thursday night speech and said that after a week in which he made dramatic entrances (read: smoke, the helicopter), the evening would be less about "a great entrance" (although he did tell Stephanopoulos to "stay tuned" when asked how he would top his previous entrances) and more about "a good grouping of words."
"I'm not looking for a great entrance," said Trump. "I'm looking for really a good grouping of words that's going to talk about our country and the problems that we have. We have deep problems, really deep-seated problems. So it's not about the entrance, it's about the words and it's about getting the words done. The only way we're going to get that taken care of is we have to in November do very well."
When asked whether he'd bring up some of his more controversial proposals, like his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Trump wouldn't reveal specifics except to say, "You'll be hearing things tomorrow. You'll be hearing a lot of things tomorrow."
He continued: "I'm going to be talking about trade. I'm going to be talking about law and order. I'm going to be talking about borders. I'll be talking about many different things. Our country has a lot of problems. We're weak in so many different ways. I think I'll be basically using the same message that I've been giving for a long time."
Indeed, when asked if he has to "evolve," as Newt Gingrich told Stephanopoulos as Trump goes into the general election, he seemed to dismiss the notion.
"Look, I am who I am. I'm a very honest person. And I think my message is a good message. It got me here," said Trump. "There's something happening … and people are tired of what's going on. They're sick and tired of what's going on."
Asked if he imagined when he announced his candidacy that little over a year later he'd be the nominee, the real-estate mogul said he plays to win.
"This is beyond what I would've even assumed," said Trump. "People have asked me that question and I guess the answer has to be 'yes' or I don't think I would've done it. I don't play to lose, so I assume I thought somewhere deep down that I was going to do well."