The midterm election is still weeks away, but for President Donald Trump, that’s plenty of time for his tuna casserole brain to kick into gear and immediately start distancing himself from what polling suggests could be a total catastrophe for congressional Republicans.
In a predictably free-wheeling Oval Office interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Trump preemptively absolved himself of any blame should Republicans lose control of congress next month. Asked point blank whether he feels he should “bear some responsibility for that,” Trump responded by both bragging about how great he is, and rehashing (what else?) the 2016 election.
Here’s the full transcript, via the AP:
AP: So my question is, if Republicans were to lose control of the House on November 6th — or a couple of days later depending on how long it takes to count the votes — do you believe you bear some responsibility for that?
Trump: No, I think I’m helping people. Look, I’m 48 and 1 in the primaries, and actually it’s much higher than that because I endorsed a lot of people that were successful that people don’t even talk about. But many of those 48, as you know, were people that had no chance, in some cases. We look at Florida, you look at Donovan in Staten Island. He was losing by 10 points, I endorsed him and he won. I could give you a long list of names. Look at Georgia governor of Georgia. And many, many races. And I will say that we have a very big impact. I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact. They would say that in the old days that if you got the support of a president or if you’ve got the support of somebody it would be nice to have, but it meant nothing, zero. Like literally zero. Some of the people I’ve endorsed have gone up 40 and 50 points just on the endorsement.
AP: Eight years ago, Barack Obama said he got shellacked, so you know, taking the outcome of the election as a referendum on himself.
Trump: So I think we’re going to do well. Look, it feels to me very much like ’16. I was going out and making speeches and I was getting tens of thousands of people. And I was getting literally tens of thousands of people, also, more than Hillary in the same location. And I said, ‘Why am I going to lose?’ I mean, I go out, I make a speech like I have, you know, 25 times more people than she gets. And I didn’t need Beyonce to get them. I didn’t have to have, you know, entertainment and entertainers to get them. And then they’d all leave before she made the speech after the entertainer was finished. Honestly, it feels very much like it did in ’16.
Now, I’m not sure that that’s right. And I’m not running. I mean, there are many people that have said to me, ‘Sir, I will never ever,’ you on the trail when I’m talking to people backstage etcetera, ‘I will never ever go and vote in the midterms because you’re not running and I don’t think you like Congress.’ Well, I do like Congress because I think, and when I say Congress I like the Republicans that support me in Congress. We’ve had tremendous support. I mean, we’ve got the taxes with 100 percent Republican votes and we don’t really have much of a majority. You know when you say majority, I always say, ‘If somebody has a cold, we have to delay the vote.’ So I get along, you know, very ... people have no idea how low how well I get along with Republicans in Congress. I get along well with a lot of the Democrats in Congress, but I’ll never get their vote.
Trump’s overt absolution of any responsibility should Congress flip to the Democrats comes as a direct antithesis to his recent campaign rally rhetoric, where he has essentially cast himself as the candidate to vote for in the midterms, despite not being on the ballot again until 2020.
Despite his words appearing in black and white in the AP’s transcript, Trump nevertheless denounced the interview’s framing as “fake news” in an angry tweet on Wednesday morning.
Trump seemed decidedly less upset at his performance during other parts of the interview, such as when he declared that many of the undocumented children his administration has put in cages “were fine.” Or the part where he insisted that his former personal attorney and Trump organization VP Michael Cohen was simply “ a PR person who did small legal work, very small legal work.” Or his 350 word soliloquy on how he “fixed” the NFL’s ongoing problem with, uh, Canada.
The whole interview is a great reminder that however crazy Trump seems in 30 second soundbites, that’s nothing compared to when he has an unlimited time to rant about whatever he wants from within the comfort of his own home.