President Trump can’t be ill-mannered — he went to an Ivy League school.
That was the argument Trump made on Wednesday as he defended his own character.
Trump blamed the media and touted his own intellect in response to criticism from a pair of senators from his own party accusing him of having “a flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”
“I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am,” Trump said.
“I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student,” he added. “I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”
Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree after studying two years at the school and another two at Fordham University in the Bronx.
The proud Wharton alum, who has a habit of making rude, harmful and often bullying remarks, has spent the past few weeks sparring with Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
“I think to a certain extent, maybe I can blame the media. But politics is a rough business,” Trump said as he left the White House on his way to a fund-raiser in Dallas.
The President took a moment from his high-minded defense to rip on Flake.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he “couldn’t run the campaign that I wanted to run and win in this kind of Republican Party.”
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
“Look, his poll numbers are terrible. He’s been terrible for the great people of Arizona, a state that likes Donald Trump very much,” he said.
Flake, for his part, offered Trump faint praise — for driving a wedge into the conservative core of the GOP.
The Arizona Republican, who announced his decision not to seek reelection next year by telling his colleagues he would not be “complicit” in Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified” ways, sarcastically tipped his hat to the President.
“I couldn’t run the campaign that I wanted to run and win in this kind of Republican Party,” Flake told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “So I guess the President does deserve credit, if you want to call it that.”
Corker also blasted Trump, calling him “untruthful” and telling him he is debasing the nation.
The President rode a wave of inflammatory and offensive rhetoric to the White House as he called for a Muslim ban, deemed illegal Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “bad hombres” and encouraged supporters to attack protesters at his rallies.
He often bestows his rivals with derogatory nicknames such as “liddle” Bob Corker, “crooked” Hillary Clinton and “Pocahontas,” the moniker he gave Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.).
He has recently feuded with the widow of a slain U.S. soldier and refused to condemn white supremacists following a violent rally in Virginia.
Flake said he wouldn’t be “complicit” in Trump’s version of nationalist conservatism.
Flake called on others to stand up to Trump’s politics and behavior by invoking the 1950s demagoguery of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, saying, “You can’t continue to just remain silent.”
“There is a tipping point. … I hope we’re reaching that tipping point,” Flake told NBC’s “Today.”
Trump immediately fired back on Twitter, saying that Flake and Corker aren’t running for reelection because “they had zero chance of being elected.”
He also contended that Flake and Corker are outliers, boasting that he received a standing ovation a luncheon with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill a day earlier.
“It was almost a love fest, maybe it was a love fest. There is great unity,” he said of the GOP.
Most Republicans sought to stay out of the fray.
“Maybe we do better by having some of the people who just don’t like him leave, and replace them with somebody else,” Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told The Associated Press. “And I think that’s what’s happening.”
Others wanted to stay focused on tax reform, the lone legislative victory the party has a chance of claiming after a year of disappointing defeats.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Trump is debasing the nation.
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Flake was facing a challenge from former state Sen. Kelli Ward, an insurgent anti-establishment conservative who has the backing of former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
Earlier this month, Bannon implored attendees at the Values Voter Summit, an annual social conservative conference, to keep up the fight against the “imperial” political class.
“It’s not my war, this is our war and y’all didn’t start it, the establishment started it,” Bannon said.
He also said, “Right now, it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment.”
On Wednesday, Bannon blasted Flake and his fellow Republicans as weak.
“The establishment Republicans are in full collapse. They’re not even fighting back. They’re out of ideas, guts and out of money,” Bannon told the Financial Times.
“Flake was polling like crazy, and the numbers were coming back terrible. Flake shows you one important thing. The money is getting turned off. He went down without a fight.”
Corker told CNN on Wednesday that he was in a “commanding position” and had more money than any other Republican incumbent when he decided to call it quits.
“And so that’s just not true,” he said of Trump’s assertions that he chose not to run again because he had “zero chance of winning.”
“But, look, you know, I — please. I don’t really care what comes out of the White House,” Corker added. “Well, it’s sort of a daily silliness.”