- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2016

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he’s the last person who “wants to play the nuclear card,” but he’s sticking with his declaration that he doesn’t want to take “cards off the table,” saying that “Europe’s a big place.”

“I don’t want to take cards off the table. I’d never do that,” Mr. Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” “The last person to press that button would be me. Hey, I’m the one that didn’t want to go into Iraq from the beginning. The last person that wants to play the nuclear card, believe me, is me.”

“But you can never take cards off the table, either from a moral … or any standpoint, certainly from a negotiating standpoint,” he said.

At an MSNBC town hall earlier this week, Mr. Trump was asked if he would take the threat of using nuclear weapons, including in Europe, off the table. He said it was unlikely but that he wasn’t “taking cards off the table.”

“I’m not going to use nukes, but I’m not taking any cards off the table,” he said.

“Europe’s a big place,” he said on Fox. “I’m not going to take cards off the the table. We have nuclear capability. Now, our capability is going down rapidly because of what we’re doing. It’s in bad shape, the equipment is not properly maintained, there’s a whole lot of talk about that, and that’s a bad thing, not a good thing.”

SEE ALSO: White House slams Donald Trump for nuclear proposal on South Korea, Japan

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Trump also suggested that Japan and South Korea could get their own nuclear arsenal amid the threats they’re facing from North Korea and China. Those remarks earned Mr. Trump a strong rebuke Thursday from White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

“The last person to use nuclear would be Donald Trump,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s the way I feel. I think it is a horrible thing — the thought of it is horrible. But I don’t want to take anything off the table.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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