- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he can at least understand objections to his calling Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida a “clown,” but that Mr. Rubio, a 2016 GOP rival, went after him first.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked Mr. Trump Tuesday evening on Mr. O’Reilly’s show if it would be unfair to say to him that calling Mr. Rubio a clown — which Mr. Trump did at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., last week — was not presidential.

“No, I don’t think you’d be unfair, but I have to tell you how that all started,” Mr. Trump said. “I was getting along with him perfectly fine two weeks ago. Everything was fine, I don’t really know him. And all of a sudden, he attacks me about nothing, but really attacked me quite viciously, and I fought back.”

Mr. O’Reilly said commenting on Mr. Rubio’s immigration record is “fine,” “but it’s the clown stuff that’s not fine.”

“Well, OK — I can understand that,” Mr. Trump said. “But he hit me very viciously.”

The Tuesday appearance came after Mr. Trump had said on social media last week that Fox News had been treating him very unfairly and that he wouldn’t be doing any Fox shows for the foreseeable future. Fox said in response that the network had canceled Mr. Trump’s scheduled appearance on Mr. O’Reilly’s show on Thursday before Mr. Trump’s announced “boycott.”

Mr. O’Reilly also asked Mr. Trump if it was fair for him to say that in order for Mr. Trump to win the GOP nomination, he would have to change his style and be “a bit kinder and more mature.”

“Well, I think it’s fair. I think the word ‘mature’ is not appropriate, but I think it’s certainly fair,” Mr. Trump said, going on to tout his leads in recent polling.

Mr. Trump said it’s not going to be a question of “nice.”

“I think I’m a nice person. I have great relationships; you know me well,” he said. “I help people. I love people.”

It will not be a question of that, though, but one of “competence,” Mr. Trump said.

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