Donald Trump says his Iowa debate boycott was far different than the refusal of Mitt Romney and other GOP contenders from attending a 2011 Newsmax face-off
– a decision Trump criticized at the time as cowardly.
In an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation,"
moderator John Dickerson recalled the Trump accusation, quoting him saying: "'We're not seeing a lot of courage here are we?" Not lots of courage, these Republicans are supposed to be brave,"
The full interview will air Sunday.
"They should have shown up," Trump told Dickerson. "I was doing the moderation… It was for a Newsmax thing, if they asked me. The owner is a friend of mine, Chris Ruddy, a very good guy. He said 'Would you do it?' I said 'I've never done that before, I guess I'll do it.'"
"Here's the difference," Trump added. "I was treated very unfairly by Fox...They weren't treated badly. I mean, I was treated very, very badly by Fox. They issued a statement that was an inappropriate statement. Now, what happened is, since then, they've been very nice. And they tried very much to get me to do the debate. By that time, the event, my counter-event had taken off."
"I mean, it was a press release," Dickerson pressed. "You were offended...aren't you being a little too politically correct?"
"You know what I did? I went out, and I raised $6 million for vets," Trump replied, referring to his counter-event Thursday night, a benefit for veterans.
"That's more important, frankly, than doing a debate. Because I've done, already, six debates. Supposedly, I've won all six, according to every single poll...I'm just saying, when do these debates stop? I have another one coming up, I guess, in another week. So you have debates all the time."
Dickerson also asked Trump about an accusation from Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America, that vets were being used for "political stunts."
"I haven't seen that," Trump said of the criticism. "They were so happy last night. We had tremendous numbers of vets there. You saw the crowds outside, thousands of people standing outside....And boy, the vets really loved it. I hadn't heard that. Why would they be against raising money?"
"The idea is you were offended by Fox, wanted to not be in the debate," Dickerson explained. "And then you concocted the veterans thing kind of as an afterthought."
"Honestly, I haven't heard about this," Trump insisted. "In fact, you know, if you tell me that, I can tell you that the vet groups that we dealt with are so happy. And they're going to be splitting up $6 million. That's pretty good."
Trump's campaign said the money collected Thursday night would be distributed to 22 veterans organizations, but the Wounded Warrior Project, to which Trump has previously donated, was not on the list.
"We saw some bad stories about them...I think, on CBS, actually," Trump said.
"And I think I want to give it a little pause, until we find out whether or not that stuff is correct. So we look very carefully. I always do. I look very carefully as to expenses and what things are costing and how they allocate their money. And I like to see nice, low numbers in terms of expense. Those numbers were pretty high."
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