Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told Newsmax TV in a wide-ranging exclusive interview that Hillary Clinton and the media were "making a mountain out of a molehill" over his "Second Amendment" comments and that many voters thought his call to gun owners was "handled very well."
"It's already been reported that they're making a mountain out of a molehill," Trump told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth on Wednesday before speaking to a capacity crowd at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. "People thought actually it was handled very well.
"People were there," he added, referring to the Tuesday rally at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where he was introduced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
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Trump noted how Giuliani strongly defended his remarks in subsequent television interviews.
"Rudy Giuliani was all over the place saying that he was there," he said. "He was actually in the room — and he was all over the place saying that that was really well said and perfectly said.
"You saw the reaction of the audience. They took it like just a very normal statement.
"We're talking about the power of the voter — and that's what it is."
Trump told Hayworth that the biggest lesson he has learned since beginning his campaign in June 2015 was that savvy American voters have cut through the bias of the mainstream media to embrace his message.
"I've seen how smart the American people are," he told Hayworth. "I get the most unfair treatment, the worst treatment from the press — and they write about it.
"Actually, the press writes about how unfairly I'm treated and how harshly. A few people have said they've never seen anything like it.
"They'll take a very good story and make it a bad story — and the public gets it," Trump said. "That's why I'm doing so well.
"We're very close. The polls are getting very, very tight — and I think when we're finished I think, hopefully, we'll have a big victory."
Trump said that his campaign was making a strong push to reach evangelicals because "they're very important — and I think I'll get, hopefully, 100 percent of their vote."
Pushing the Republican Party to reinstate rolling the Johnson Amendment was critical to gaining that vote, the nominee said.
The law, introduced by President Lyndon Johnson when he was running for re-election as a Democratic senator from Texas in 1954, bars churches and other tax-exempt groups from getting involved in political campaigns or endorsing candidates.
"We're putting in the Johnson Amendment, which is very powerful, which is very good, which is going to give voice to the ministers and to the pastors — and to frankly people and representatives of all religions.
"It's going to be a very, very powerful reason to vote for Donald Trump.
"It's actually in our platform, in the Republican platform, at my request, very strong request," Trump added. "With the evangelicals, I won them in the primaries big league.
"I think we're going to win them again — and from all indications, it's very, very strong.
"I hope they get out and vote — because if they get out and vote, it's going to be a big benefit to all of us."
In other comments in his exclusive Newsmax TV interview, Trump said that:
- Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was right that he would have come under heavy media fire if Seddique Mateen, the father of the Orlando shooter, appeared at one of his rallies, as he did Clinton's.
- He will exercise "veto power" over moderators selected for the three presidential debates with Clinton scheduled for this fall. "We want a moderator that's going to be fair."
- "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough was once his friend. "He used to like me, then all of a sudden he didn't like me — and that's OK."
- Roger Ailes, who was not advising his campaign, had done "an amazing job" leading the Fox News Channel before he resigned last month amid a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. "He's a man who has done an amazing job building Fox."
- America was in an economic "disaster" that can only be reversed by his tax plan. "We have no growth right now. The country's a disaster."
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