Trump tells Wolf Blitzer his Arizona rally was “like a love-fest.”
Washington (CNN)On the eve the next 2016 contests, each of the remaining presidential candidates appeared Monday night on CNN to take on issues ranging from foreign policy to their own political futures.
The event coincided with Donald Trump’s whirlwind day in Washington, in which he met with Republican officials, sat for a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board and gave a major address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The CNN interviews also came on the same day that President Barack Obama held a historic news conference with Cuban leader Raul Castro, infusing the discussions with a lot of foreign policy talk.
Here’s a look at the highlights from the interviews:
Donald Trump said the U.S. should rethink its involvement in NATO because the defense alliance costs too much money.
In remarks to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Trump said the U.S. pays a disproportionate amount to NATO to ensure the security of allies.
“Frankly, they have to put up more money,” he said. “We are paying disproportionately. It’s too much, and frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea.”
For instance, Trump said Washington was “taking care” of Ukraine and that other European nations were not doing enough to support the Kiev government that has been locked in a long showdown with Moscow.
But Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and Washington is not providing arms to the government as it is fighting pro-Moscow rebels, though has provided nonlethal aid and has helped support international bailouts of the Ukrainian economy.
Later in the interview, Trump qualified his remarks saying that the U.S. should not “decrease its role” in NATO but should decrease its spending. Still, the Republican presidential front-runner’s NATO comments could spur anxiety among the Western foreign policy establishment.
Earlier Monday, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton used her speech at AIPAC to slam Trump’s position on Israel. He’s come under fire for previously saying he’s “neutral” in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, though he’s repeatedly said he supports Israel.
“We need steady hands. Not a president who says he is neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything is negotiable,” Clinton said in a clear shot at the Republican front-runner.
But in the CNN interview, Trump said Clinton lacks the strength to be president and dismissed her claim that he was too volatile to be commander in chief.
“Hillary Clinton does not have the stamina … does not have the strength to be president,” Trump told Blitzer.
Trump also dismissed Clinton’s critique about his potential qualifications to serve as president.
“I have the steadiest hands. Look at those hands,” Trump said. “Far steadier than hers,” he said, accusing Clinton of simply reading speeches scripted by her aides off a teleprompter.
Trump also said that if elected president, he would require the removal of the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a reversal of long-standing American policy.
“It’s a process but fairly quickly,” Trump said, when asked how quickly he could make such a move happen.
He broke with many others in the GOP foreign policy establishment by saying he would continue the President’s policy of normalizing relations with the former U.S. communist foe.
“Probably so,” Trump said.
“But I want much better deals than we are making,” Trump said, and said at the “right time” he would be willing to open one of his signature luxury hotels in Havana. He said that Castro had also delivered “a very, very big slight” to Obama by not meeting him at the airport when Air Force One touched down in Havana on Sunday.
The Republican front-runner also warned the party against depriving him of the GOP nomination if he falls marginally short of the 1,237 delegates needed to formally clinch the party’s presidential election nod.
“If it was at 1190, so I am a little bit off …. I think it is going to be very hard for them to do,” Trump said, pointing out he had several million more votes than any other candidate in the Republican primary process. He added that it was “a little unfair” that he had been forced to compete against so many Republican candidates in a manner that made it tougher for anyone to reach that magic number.
“I had many, many people that I am competing with, so you know when you talk about the majority plus one it is a very unfair situation.”
Hillary Clinton stepped up her attacks on Trump’s character and behavior as she makes a case that he is not fit to be commander in chief — an argument likely to form the centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s assault if he becomes the Republican nominee.
“He has been engaging in bigotry and bluster and bullying, and I think when it comes to understanding what he would do as president, there are serious questions that have been raised, and this campaign should he be the nominee will have to address them,” Clinton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The former secretary of state accused Trump of inciting violence and urging supporters to go after protesters in a way that she said “raises very serious questions.” Asked whether Trump would behave differently as president, Clinton answered “Who knows?”
“For me, you have to take him at his word on how he has behaved and what he has said,” Clinton said, faulting Trump for not sufficiently renouncing the Ku Klux Klan and recalling the billionaire’s derogatory remarks about Mexicans.
Turning to her primary battle against Sanders, Clinton said that she did not “buy” polls that show the Vermont senator is a stronger Democratic general election candidate.
“Any horse race poll this far out is meaningless,” Clinton said.
Read more on CNN