Donald Trump said that if he were elected president, he would become the calmest, nicest, most politically correct person in the world.
"When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen," Trump said at a rally in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday.
In what began as a typical Trump speech, the presidential candidate — who made headlines in December for saying he would ban Muslims from entering the US — said the reason for his tough rhetoric is twofold. First, political correctness takes too long and "we don’t have time," and second, with such a full slate of Republican candidates, Trump says he needs to be aggressive.
"Right now they come at you from 15 different angles. You have to be sharp, you have to be quick, and you have to be somewhat vicious," Trump said. "When you are running the country it is a different dialogue that goes, and we can do that easily."
This speech comes as members of the Republican establishment are pondering which of the two current frontrunners — Trump or Ted Cruz — might ultimately be more palatable to them. One anonymous House member in Speaker Paul Ryan's "inner circle" speculated to National Review that Trump might actually be more acceptable because "there's not a lot of meat" on Trump's policies, and the establishment would be ready to supply it.
That has been a matter of fierce debate among the GOP establishment, with a cadre of conservative intellectuals arguing in National Review that Trump must be stopped. One of those arguments was that Trump has been too aggressive with his offensive rhetoric.
Trump seemed to be responding to this critique — or at least one voter's concern over this critique — in his speech over the weekend. An edited transcript of his remarks is below:
A woman asked me today, I think it was over in Sioux Center, and she said to me, Mr. Trump I’m with you 100 percent, I’m in business — a really beautiful-looking executive woman — she said, I tell you, the one question they want to know, if you become president can you calm down your rhetoric? [...] she said that is the only thing, people love you, but they want to know as president can you calm it down?
I said to her, listen, I am really smart. I can do that, but right now I’m fighting all of these guys. All of them or most of them are lying about me. I have to be a little aggressive.
When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen. I can leave a dinner and everyone would say, "What a fine outstanding man."
Sometimes political correctness just takes too long. We don’t have time for it, we don’t have time for it. When you look at some of the things that are happening, we don’t have time.
When you are running the country it is a different dialogue that goes, and we can do that easily. So I did that, I promised that woman I would do that and I bet you she’s happy, whoever she may be.
Trump has previously expressed his qualms with the time-consuming nature of being politically correct. Almost contrary to his speech in Iowa, he told CBS his bluntness is one thing he would maintain as president, in an interview with Face the Nation earlier this month.
Trump’s lack of filter and unpredictability has been a defining characteristic in his campaign, bringing in record ratings for GOP debates. These sound bites and Trumpisms are why he has been able to spend less on campaign advertisements, Trump said in Iowa.
"I am $38 million under budget," Trump said on Saturday. "I get so much, they call it free. … They do 15 minutes on Trump and then they say, ‘Now we will be back after commercial break with something else on Trump’ … because I get good ratings."
Watch the whole speech here:
- Five cases conservative intellectuals made against Trump in last week's National Review
- Vox's Andrew Prokop explains why some establishment Republicans are starting to line up behind Donald Trump
- One theory of why Trump's supporters find his offensive rhetoric so appealing, according to Vox's Matthew Yglesias