Following yet another poll showing him leading the GOP pack, presidential candidate Donald Trump took to the Sunday shows just four days before the first Republican debate to tout how he is the best candidate to reverse the country's slide.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
, previewed on Sunday, found Trump in front with 19 percent. Two months ago, before his official announcement, Trump was at a mere 1 percent.
That's because people didn't believe he would really run, Trump said Sunday on "Meet the Press"
"They didn't want to waste poll votes," Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd. "Once I announced, as you probably know better than anybody, my poll numbers started to shoot up like a rocket ship. They continue to go up."
While Trump is happy to be atop the polls, he said he doesn't waste his money on using them to tell him what to say, preferring instead to just be himself.
"I don't want to be unreal. I want to be me. I have to be me," he said. "We have enough of that in Washington with pollsters telling everybody what to say and everybody being controlled by the special interests and lobbyists et cetera, et cetera – and the donors."
Trump will have the center lectern at the Fox News debate, which is using the five most recent polls to determine the top 10 candidates who will be allowed to participate in the main event Thursday night.
He has been downplaying expectations since this will be his first time to ever take part in an public debate as a candidate for office. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh last week called that move "genius," since it allows Trump to essentially claim he did well no matter how he does.
The other candidates have been trying to figure out how to deal with Trump, who has run a non-traditional campaign of not only speaking his mind, but sharply attacking his rivals – and anyone else – who dares to attack him.
Trump told ABC's "This Week"
guest host Jonathan Karl his debate strategy will be off-the-cuff, just as his campaign has been. If he is attacked by others, he'll hit back.
"Every attack I made was a counterpunch," Trump said of his attack tactics "They attacked me first, and I hit them back, maybe harder than they hit me."
That strategy even goes for media who have said things about him Trump finds unfavorable. NBC's Todd has even come under fire from Trump, who has called him "sleepy eyes" multiple times.
Trump didn't use the term when speaking to Todd on Sunday, though Todd appeared to reference it as he closed out the interview, telling Trump, "All eyes will be on you for the next four days and, of course, in prime time on Thursday night."
On news that Vice President Joe Biden may enter the Democratic race to challenge frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Trump repeated his past criticism of Clinton as the worst secretary of state in American history. He also repeated his assertion that Clinton's use of a private email server and how it was used to send classified information was illegal.
"Somebody like Biden could go in and do very well and maybe win," Trump told "This Week."
Appearing on "Face the Nation,"
Trump said he might be willing to release his tax returns if they could be tied to Clinton's emails.
Asked by host John Dickerson what percentage he pays in taxes, Trump said he has long said he pays as little as possible, preferring, as a businessman, to put the money back into his businesses and paying his employees.
"I fight like hell to pay as little as possible," he said. "I hate the way our government spends our taxes. I hate the way they waste our money, trillions and trillions of dollars of waste and abuse and I hate it."
On other issues, Trump said:
- He would look for Supreme Court appointees who are of "high intellect" and "very conservative.
- He would not be opposed to re-instituting waterboarding as an interrogation technique against terrorists because "I have no doubt that that works."
- He sees a "massive crisis" that is being pointed out by the Black Lives Matters group, but wants to balance that with more empowerment of police to fight the "tremendous crime wave" gripping the country.
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