‘I’m Not Going to Have Time for Retribution,’ Trump Says at Town Hall - The World News

‘I’m Not Going to Have Time for Retribution,’ Trump Says at Town Hall

Former President Donald J. Trump, who for months has expressed openness to retaliating against his political enemies if he returns to the White House and has vowed to have federal prosecutors investigate them, downplayed his interest in pursuing retribution at a televised town hall on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to have time for retribution,” Mr. Trump said at a Fox News town hall in Iowa. “We’re going to make this country so successful again. I’m not going to have time for retribution.”

Yet even as Mr. Trump seemingly shifted his stance on seeking political revenge, he did not dismiss the possibility outright, suggesting that many in the country would support his past remarks given how Democrats had behaved while he was in office.

“Well, first of all, a lot of people would say that that’s not so bad,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the idea of seeking retribution. “Look what they did.”

Mr. Trump’s hourlong town hall took place in Des Moines at the same time that his two closest rivals in the race, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, were debating on CNN.

As the two of them traded jabs in a bid to court voters and caucusgoers in early-nominating states, Mr. Trump showed signs that he remained focus on a general election matchup against President Biden.

Days before the Iowa caucuses, which take place on Monday, Mr. Trump told the moderators of the town hall, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, that he already had a running mate in mind, though he would not name who he was talking about.

And when asked about his stance on abortion by a woman who said it was the chief issue influencing her on whether to decide between Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis, the former president again said he thought the issue was a liability for Republicans in elections.

Yet he repeatedly took credit for the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, arguing that he had delivered on a campaign promise that Republicans had been making for decades. “Nobody has done more in that regard than me,” he said.

Still, Mr. Trump once again declined to commit to a formal position on abortion, saying, “We are going to come up with something that people want and people like.”

The town hall offered a marked contrast from most of Mr. Trump’s campaign events this year. By and large, he has not taken questions from voters, eschewing small meet-and-greets and town halls for larger rallies and appearances with friendly television interviewers like Sean Hannity.

On Wednesday, he took questions from moderators and from audience members selected by Fox News. Even when Mr. Baier and Ms. MacCallum pressed Mr. Trump for clear answers, he largely answered with key points from his stump speech.

Early in the town hall, Mr. Baier asked Mr. Trump about an ominous warning he had made previously, when he remarked that there would be “bedlam in this country” if the courts did not rule in his favor in the criminal and civil cases against him.

Mr. Trump did not fully explain his “bedlam” comment on Wednesday. Instead, he vaguely referred to Mr. Biden and accused him of a “political ploy,” as he has repeatedly for months by claiming without evidence that Mr. Biden was behind the cases against him.

He also accused the news media of misrepresenting a comment he made last month on Fox News in which he said he would be a dictator only on “Day 1” of his presidency. Mr. Trump had previously doubled down on that remark.

But on Wednesday, he said, “I am not going to be a dictator,” adding that he would run the country in a second term much the way he did while in office before.

When asked, Mr. Trump said that he “of course” believed that political violence was not acceptable. But he also insisted that while president there was “very little of it,” disregarding, it seems, the mob of his followers who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

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