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Amid his ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, Donald Trump returned to Fox News on Tuesday, calling in to the cable news channel’s Fox and Friends morning show.
Trump had a polite, nearly nine-minute conversation with co-host Steve Doocy, in which the Republican presidential candidate talked about his plans for changing the way income-tax returns are filed and for fighting ISIS. But neither Trump nor Doocy specifically mentioned his dispute with Kelly, to whom Trump has refused to apologize after frequently criticizing her in the wake of Thursday night’s debate, taking issue with her questions there.
Doocy did, however, allude to a rift between Fox News and Trump, introducing the real-estate mogul with, “he’s baaack” and “glad we’re friends again.”
“We are friends, Steve,” Trump replied. “We’ve always been friends. And it’s great to be back with you.”
Trump did mock the media’s coverage of his campaign, saying after Doocy brought up an ABC report, from a “senior adviser” with his campaign, that if Trump didn’t win the Republican nomination he would consider promising not to run as an independent.
“First of all, it’s amazing how many so-called senior advisers I have,” Trump said as Doocy laughed. “I think you know me well enough. And everybody’s a senior adviser and a long-time adviser.”
Trump went on to criticize his former campaign strategist Roger Stone, saying he “let [Stone] go because I really wasn’t using him and he liked to get a lot of publicity for himself, which I didn’t want. I want to get publicity on making America great again. That’s the only publicity I want, making America great again.”
As for whether he’ll run as an independent if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination, Trump said he wants to run on the GOP ticket but will “keep that door open in case I don’t get treated fairly.”
Trump’s Fox and Friends call-in is his first appearance on the network since Thursday night’s debate, but he’s continued to make an aggressive publicity tour, using his appearances to call out Kelly, going so far as to say on Monday’s Morning Joe that she owed him an apology.
Trump eased up on Fox News by Monday afternoon, tweeting that he had a phone conversation with network head, Roger Ailes.
“He is a great guy & assures me that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly on @FoxNews,” Trump wrote of his chat with Ailes. “His word is always good!”
Ailes confirmed the conversation in a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter, saying the two “discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly. She is a brilliant journalist, and I support her 100 percent. I assured him that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness and balance. We had a blunt but cordial conversation, and the air has been cleared.”
For her part, Kelly addressed Trump’s criticism on Monday night’s episode of her show, The Kelly File, not backing down from her debate questions.
“Trump, who is the front-runner, will not apologize, and I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,” Kelly said. “So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor…This is a tough business, and it’s time now to move forward.”
Trump is also set to make a guest appearance on Tuesday night’s Hannity.
After appearing on Fox and Friends, Trump called in to CNN’s New Day, where he did address his comments about Kelly and his relationship with Fox News, claiming any issues he had with the channel have been cleared up.
“I was very angry with the way I was treated and, you know, perhaps justifiably,” Trump said. “But Roger Ailes, who is an amazing guy and an amazing executive, frankly, he called me yesterday and as far as I’m concerned, I’m fine with it.”
The real-estate mogul went on to insist that his relationship with Fox News is “not about Megyn Kelly.”
“It’s not about that. Look, there was a misinterpretation of what I said,” Trump added. “What I said was obvious. There was nothing wrong — Unless you’re a deviant, you don’t put those words in. A couple of people tried to make a big issue out of it. That’s not it. Roger’s done an amazing job at Fox. He called me, and I have no problems.”
Earlier Trump stood behind his “bleeding” comment about Kelly.
“I said what I said. And frankly, I didn’t even finish that sentence and people said he must be have been thinking about this. It was a ridiculous interpretation. Most people agree with what I said. What I said was very simple and I wanted to get onto the next thought. Frankly, I don’t know how it could have been misconstrued unless somebody is a deviant,” Trump explained. “So you know, unless you have a sort of a semi-sick mind or a very sick mind, you wouldn’t have thought that. … That would not be the normal thought process. But, it’s sort of irrelevant. There are lots of other things that happen in politics that are certainly a lot worse than that.”
He also agreed with New York Post columnist Rich Lowry‘s assertion that he’s “a whiner.”
“I do whine because I want to win. And I’m not happy if I’m not winning,” he said. “I’m a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win.”
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