Donald Trump has hit back at claims that he needs to become “more mature” to win the Republican nomination as he patched up his feud with Fox News in an interview defending his controversial campaign style.
Speaking to network presenter Bill O’Reilly, the Republican frontrunner pushed back at criticisms that he needed to be “kinder and more mature” and did not behave in a sufficiently presidential manner.
Trump replied: “I think the word mature is not appropriate.”
O’Reilly, who took pains to ask Trump whether each question he asked was fair, singled out the real estate mogul’s description of Republican rival Marco Rubio as “a clown” at conference of social conservatives on Friday.
Trump said that he was “a counterpuncher” and insisted “I was getting along with him and then he attacks me about nothing”.
The GOP frontrunner then bashed Rubio for missing votes on Capitol Hill and being “weak on immigration”.
But Trump did concede that he understood why using the word clown had been controversial before saying that Rubio had “hit me very viciously”.
During the interview in New York, Trump also weighed in on foreign policy and said he was relaxed about Russian armed forces being deployed in Syria to aid the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The Republican frontrunner cited the cost to the United States of the Iraq war before adding: “Putin is now taking over what we started … there’s very little downside of Putin fighting Isis”.
The billionaire took questions about his tax plan , unveiled Monday, which dramatically cuts taxes on many of the richest Americans.
Trump brushed off concerns about whether his plan, which cuts taxes by an estimated $12 trillion over a ten-year period, would be revenue neutral.
He expressed his confidence that he could avoid increasing the national debt by reducing the size of government. “I am a cost cutter, I know how to cut costs,” said Trump. He said there was tremendous waste and abuse in government that he could find and cited the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency as two government agencies where he could slash spending dramatically.
Trump fell out with Fox News after what he considered unfair treatment by moderator Megyn Kelly during the first presidential debate in August.
After Trump accused Kelly of having “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during her questioning of him, a comment widely construed as referring to menstruation, he was blackballed from a conservative event and engaged in a brief boycott of Fox.
Roger Ailes, the chief executive of Fox News, initially released a statement backing Kelly. Ailes assured Trump he would be “treated fairly” and the GOP frontrunner returned to making appearances on Fox News.
Trump resumed the feud last week, tweeting “@FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future”.
The billionaire seemed to draw particular ire when a conservative pundit said that former Hewlett Packard boss Carly Fiorina “cut [Trump’s] balls off” during the second Republican presidential debate. However, this boycott ended after a mere six days on Tuesday when Trump appeared on O’Reilly’s show.