After another week of controversies stemming from Donald Trump’s fight with members of the Republican Party, his campaign insisted it was all much ado about nothing.
Trump’s top two advisers, Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort, went on Sunday morning talk shows to defend and, in some cases, reframe their candidate’s recent criticism and/or insults of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and a wave of other high-profile Republicans.
“This has been completely blown out of proportion,” Manafort told Jon Karl in an interview for ABC’s “This Week.”
Trump wasn’t trying to start a fight with one of Republicans’ most popular governors, Martinez, when he went to her home state last week and said she wasn’t doing her job. (Martinez is the head of the Republican Governors Association and has not endorsed Trump. Many in the Republican Party saw his high-profile fight with Martinez as an unforced error because Trump needs to win over Hispanic and female voters.)
Rather, Trump was making a more general statement about New Mexico’s struggling economy, Lewandowski said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We stand by our statement that the state of New Mexico could be doing better,” he said.
His aides also said that Trump stands by his insults to one of his biggest critics, Romney. Romney is leading a Hail Mary attempt to field a third-party candidate to run against Trump. Last week, Trump said Romney “choked like a dog” and walked “like a penguin.”
Romney deserved those insults, Manafort seemed to suggest in his interview: “Governor Romney is jealous of the fact that the first businessman to be nominated by the Republican Party with record numbers is Mr. Trump.”
In his interview, Lewandowski also batted away reports that the Trump campaign is in turmoil — unorganized at the state level and fighting internally. Lewandowski denied reports that he and Manafort are at each other’s throats. He also denied a New York Times report that Trump staffers apparently were concerned that they were being bugged at their Trump Tower office.
“I think that’s a lot of speculation,” Lewandowski said. “… I think we’re very happy with how our offices are set up.”
Neither of the men gave any hints about whom Trump is considering to be his running mate, with Lewandowski saying only that the list is “very small.”