It never hurts to bash the New York Times in a Republican presidential primary, especially when you’re cornered. So it was no surprise to hear the following answer from Donald Trump after he was asked in last night’s Fox Business debate about the claim that he proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods coming into the United States at a meeting with the New York Times editorial board: “That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they are always wrong,” said Trump. After ripping China for devaluing its currency to help its foreign trade balance, he sought to clarify: “What I said to the New York Times, is that, ‘We have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount — where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.’ ”

Last night, the Erik Wemple Blog sought some feedback from the New York Times editorial board. We received a transcript of the audio from the board’s session with Trump. The document gives some hints about how frustrating it must be to hold an editorial discussion with this fellow. Here’s a look at some of the material that precedes the tariff comments:

I just want to follow up – specifically what would you as president do to cut back on american trade with china?
one thing to do is what china’s done with its currency….they’ve taken our businesses. (something about a large devaluation on currency)
The reason they did is they have no respect for our president they have no respect for our country…they were never going to do a devaluation and … the largest devaluation in 20 years, two decades… to think that they would do devaluation like that on top of all the devaluation, and what it does is it makes it impossible …
THEN HE STARTS TALKING ABOUT WATCHING JAPAN AND HOW WEAK CAROLINE KENNEDY IS.

With that out of the way, we’ll get to the exchange at the heart of the Fox Business question:

Q again – so what would you do to exert pressure on China?
“I would tax China coming in, products coming in. I would do a tariff. And they do it to us. You have to be smart. I’m a free trader, I’m a free trader, and some of the people would tell you ‘oh it’s terrible’…I love free trade…but it’s gotta be reasonably fair. I would do a tax. And let me tell you what the tax should be? The tax should be 45 percent. That would be a tax that would be an equivalent to some of the kind of devaluations that they’ve done. They cannot believe that we haven’t done this yet.”

So there you have it. We’ve asked the Trump campaign for comment.

FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM NEW YORK TIMES:

…So going back to north korea what would you have china do? … would you have them close off all trade?
“The only power we have with china which is massive, is trade. Because they make all the money, they fuel their economy with us, we get nothing we lose. i would tell them – first of all they don’t respect president obama. they have no respect for him…i do a lot of business with china and with mexico. it’s sort of interesting, i have great relationships … these people that come over are rich. i have the largest bank in the world in my building in trump tower….i’m always surprised, we renewed their l
I would use the power we have over china which we don’t use at all because we don’t even…i would cut back on trade with china, i would cut back way cut back on trade with china.
you think american business would find that useful?
we’d make a lot more money than we’re making now. $505 billion (lost) every year.
china has absolute control over (inaudible) .much more so than they say. they tell us they don’t have that kind of control…. china’s doing htat. they’re toying with us. …if china said boom and they say that’s the end, you build a very small wall…so china would be…that’s it….we’re not gonna do this anymore…they have control but they tell us they don’t.
I just want to follow up – specifically what would you as president do to cut back on american trade with china?
one thing to do is what china’s done with its currency….they’ve taken our businesses. (something about a large devaluation on currency)
The reason they did is they have no respect for our president they have no respect for our country…they were never going to do a devaluation and … the largest devaluation in 20 years, two decades… to think that they would do devaluation like that on top of all the devaluation, and what it does is it makes it impossible …
THEN HE STARTS TALKING ABOUT WATCHING JAPAN AND HOW WEAK CAROLINE KENNEDY IS.
“Take a look at Catepiller…take a look at what’s happening to the country….
Q again – so what would you do to exert pressure on China?
“I would tax China coming in, products coming in. I would do a tariff. And they do it to us. You have to be smart. I’m a free trader, I’m a free trader, and some of the people would tell you ‘oh it’s terrible’…I love free trade…but it’s gotta be reasonably fair. I would do a tax. And let me tell you what the tax should be? The tax should be 45 percent. That would be a tax that would be an equivalent to some of the kind of devaluations that they’ve done. They cannot believe that we haven’t done this yet.”