Transcript: Donald Trump on “This Week”

MARTHA RADDATZ: And let’s get straight to Donald Trump who joins us right now on the phone for his interview since those controversial comments.

Thanks for joining us, Mr. Trump.


RADDATZ: Do you owe John McCain an apology?

TRUMP: No, not at all. Actually, if you look at Sharyl Attkisson’s report last night, four times she said I said perfectly, I said whatever it was, and it was absolutely fine. And she thought the press was covering me very -- very, very unfairly. And she stated that strongly. And I respect her as a reporter. And somebody that a lot of other people respect.

Also and very importantly I got a standing ovation, the biggest ovation they had all weekend, by far. When I left the room, it was a total standing ovation. It was wonderful to see. Nobody was insulted.

What happened is, later on, the Republican candidates, some of whom are registering 1 percent and zero, and they’re very upset that I’m leading the polls by actually a nice margin, they’re extremely upset and they were extremely when the Nevada numbers just came out and they’re through the roof too. They started attacking me --

RADDATZ: Mr. Trump, I want to -- let’s go back to this issue of John McCain, and you’re talking about the Sharyl Attkisson piece. You said he’s a war hero because he was captured, I believe perhaps he’s a war hero.

I want to read you a short bio of John McCain. He was shot down in 1967 on his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam. He fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected and nearly drowned when he parachuted into a lake. He was pulled out by North Vietnamese, who crushed his shoulder with a rifle and bayoneted him. He was beaten, tortured, and interrogated. He spent five and a half years a POW. The North Vietnamese offered McCain early release for propaganda purposes. He He refused until every man taken before him was released. He cannot raise his arms above his head to this day because of his wartime injuries.

You do not think that is a war hero, captured or not?

TRUMP: I didn’t say anything differently. And if you read -- and if you watch and take a look at what you have, I said nothing differently. I’m very disappointed in John McCain because the vets are horribly treated in this country. I’m fight for the vets. I’ve done a lot for the vets.

And the vets -- I’ve been going around to the campaign trail. They’re treated like third-class citizens. He’s done nothing to help the vets. And I will tell you, they are living in hell.


RADDATZ: You -- let me tell you this, what the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, John Stroud (ph), said about your comments.

“For someone who never served a day in uniform to criticize the service and sacrifice of a combat-wounded veteran is despicable.”

The founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Reikopf (ph), “an insult to everyone who has ever worn the uniform and to all Americans and an attack on one veteran’s service is an attack on us all.”

They apparently think you were criticizing Mr. McCain and saying he was not a war hero.

TRUMP: Well, maybe they don’t speak to the same vets that I speak to. But I go all over the country and I speak to vets all the time. And they’re absolutely having miserable times. It takes them six, seven days just to get into waiting in a reception room, just trying to get in to see a doctor. They’re treated horribly. And everybody knows it and it --

RADDATZ: Let’s go back here -- let’s go back to your comment about John McCain --

TRUMP: -- and it’s a scandal. And John McCain has done nothing to --

RADDATZ: There is -- Mr. Trump, I have covered the veterans issues for many, many years. Indeed, there are big troubles in the Veterans Administration.

TRUMP: -- the veterans except talk.

And by the way, this all started, Martha, when we had thousands and thousands of people in Phoenix, Arizona, and John -- who, by the way, are devastated by illegal immigration, something I’m very proud to have brought to the forefront. We had thousands of people and he said they’re all crazies. He called them crazies.

And frankly, I think he owes them an apology.

RADDATZ: Let me talk about your language about him being captured.

You say you prefer those who aren’t captured.

What could John McCain have done not to be captured?

TRUMP: Well, I do say this. People that fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They’re like forgotten. And I think that’s a shame, if you want to know the truth.

People that were not captured that went in and fought, nobody talks about them. Those are heroes also.

RADDATZ: I think people do talk about those people as well.

But what did you mean --

TRUMP: I don’t think so.

RADDATZ: -- what did you mean you -- what did you mean you prefer those who aren’t captured?

TRUMP: I want to give them credit because, frankly, they don’t get the credit. John McCain gets credit. He was elected a senator, et cetera, et cetera, and we’ll give him all the credit. And as in the report, it said, from Sharyl Attkisson, four times, I said he is a hero. But you know, people choose little selective like you try to do. People choose little selective pieces. If you read what I say or if you watch what I say, which is even better, you’ll say that there was nothing wrong. But the people that weren’t captured are also heroes, Martha.

RADDATZ: I want to talk about you and your deferment.

How many deferments did you actually get?

And what were they for?

I believe you had student deferments and then a medical deferment.

TRUMP: I had student deferments, like many other people had, during the war or around the time of the war. I had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor. I was then entered into the draft because if I would have gotten a different number, I could have been drafted.

I was fortunate, in a sense, because I was not a believer in the Vietnam War. That was another war that was a disaster for this country. Lives and money and it’s disgraceful what happened with the Vietnam War. I was not a fan of the Vietnam War. But I was entered into the draft and I got a very, very high draft number.

RADDATZ: That wasn’t until 1969.

TRUMP: Excuse me.

RADDATZ: The lottery wasn’t until 1969?

TRUMP: That’s right. I was entered --


TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. I was entered into the lottery, the draft lottery. If I would have gotten a low number, I would have been drafted. I would have proudly served. But I got a number, I think it was 356. That’s right at the very end. And they didn’t get -- I don’t believe -- past even 300, so I was -- I was not chosen because of the fact that I had a very high lottery number.

RADDATZ: You -- there seems to be a pattern, Mr. Trump. When you’re criticized or attacked, you often respond with name-calling, using terms like “dummy”, “loser”, “total losers” on Twitter and elsewhere. You even demean some people’s physical appearance.

Is that something you would continue doing if you were president? Isn’t that language beneath the office of the president?

TRUMP: Oh, I don’t think -- look, when people attack me, I let them have it back. You say physical appearance. You know, it’s my hair but people are constantly attacking my hair. I don’t see you coming to my defense. I’m -- my hair is just fine, but I don’t see you coming to my defense. But if I say something about somebody else.

Yesterday, I mentioned somebody was saying, McCain’s a smart man. I said, really? He graduated last in his class at Annapolis, OK. So people laughed when I said it, but a lot of people don’t know that.

I’m very disappointed. I understand John McCain. I’ve backed John McCain; raised, I think, $1 million for John McCain when he let us down. He ran for president and lost to Obama, let us down. I wasn’t thrilled with that. But I will say what I want to say, and maybe that’s why I’m leading in the polls because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say.

And, believe me, this whole thing was brought up by a lot of the people that are competing against me currently that aren’t even registering in the polls because people are tired of them.

RADDATZ: Have you ever said anything you regret?

TRUMP: Yes, I have, on many occasions.

RADDATZ: Can you tell us a few of those? Not the birther issue.

TRUMP: No, I --

RADDATZ: Not the immigrant issue.

TRUMP: No, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that, Martha. I wouldn’t do that. It’s not the appropriate time. But certainly I have said things that I could’ve held back. But not that often, surprisingly not that often, but certainly there have been occasions.

RADDATZ: So let me just get this clear. You are not apologizing. And you are certainly not pulling out of the race as some of your opponents have suggested.

TRUMP: Of course they’d love to have me do that because I’m leading the pack. I’m certainly not pulling out; I’m leading and I’m leading in many states. North Carolina just came in; I’m way in the lead there. Nevada, as I said, just came in. I’m way in the lead there. And, interestingly, in Nevada, I lead in Hispanics by a tremendous -- the Hispanics, I’m way into the 30s with Hispanics. Which I said, if I get the nomination, if I run for president, I will win the Hispanic vote, because I’ll be able to take jobs back from China, jobs back from Japan and Mexico, and everybody else that’s ripping us off on trade. And everybody knows that. And I will win the Hispanic vote.

RADDATZ: So you think this will actually help you? This is involving veterans and you heard what I said about those veterans groups. You still think this will help you in the polls?

TRUMP: I believe that I will do far more for veterans than John McCain has done for many, many years, with all talk no action. He’s on television all the time, talking, talking. Nothing gets done. You look at what’s happening to our veterans -- they’re being decimated, OK. So I will do far more for veterans than anybody. I’ll be able to build them new hospitals, I’ll be able to build them care centers. I’ll be able to help the veterans.

John McCain has failed. Because all you have to do is take a look -- what you report on all the time, take a look at the scandal at the Veterans’ Administration and the disastrous conditions under which our veterans have to live. And believe me, I built, with a small group, the Vietnam Memorial in downtown Manhattan. I know what it is to help people and I know what it is to help veterans.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Trump.