President Trump, in an extensive interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, accused Democrats embracing ideas like court-packing and the Green New Deal of becoming "radicalized" -- while voicing confidence as he sized up the ever-expanding field of potential 2020 opponents.
The president mocked the Democratic contenders for “saying a lot of weird things,” calling the Green New Deal “the most preposterous thing” and blasting Beto O’Rourke’s idea of taking down sections of border wall.
But asked which candidate in the massive field he'd truly like to run against in 2020, Trump threw out a few names:
"I mean, I’d love to have [Joe] Biden. I’d love to have Bernie [Sanders], I’d love to have Beto," he said, adding: "I mean, Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto. ... When I watch Beto, I say we could dream about that."
The comments amount to an early read from the president on which candidates he'd delight in tarring on the campaign trail, with the field growing every week and increasingly running to the left on issues ranging from immigration to taxes.
In the same interview, Trump alleged "the Democrats actually are becoming a far left party, I mean, they’re becoming a radical party. You look at what they want to do with the Supreme Court. You look at what they want to do with the voting age. Where did that come all of the sudden? The voting age at 16 -- they're becoming radical. They are radicalized."
He was referring to calls by Democrats, including 2020 candidates, to stack more justices onto the Supreme Court and lower the voting age to 16.
Trump discussed a range of other hot-button issues, including the economy and his controversial criticism of the late Sen. John McCain that has led to rebukes from his own party.
Bartiromo began by pointing out that while the U.S. economy has grown under Trump’s administration, the rest of the world seems to be slowing. Asked how he would keep the momentum, Trump said trade deals made during his presidency will continue to be enforced and expressed high hopes for an impending trade deal with China. He added that that tariffs on Chinese imports have already brought in billions in additional revenue.
“[I]f you look at technology and the first $50 billion of goods, we want to keep that … because we need that.”
Trump also lavished praised on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a remedy to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- or as he frequently calls it: “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.” He then blasted the European Union for what he regarded as a double standard. Countries like Germany, he said, are sending their cars virtually untaxed, while not accepting U.S.-made cars in return.
It’s hard to believe I won. If you think about it, I had Facebook, Google, Twitter, everybody against me ... the media is almost totally against me.
“The numbers are just smaller by a lot -- but you know, we lost, over the course of the last five, six, seven years, $150 billion a year with European Union,” Trump said. “They don’t take our product. They tax us tremendously. They tariff us tremendously. Almost every country has taken advantage of the United States -- and we’re straightening it out.”
Trump appeared unconcerned that slapping tariffs on auto imports might disrupt the global economy, insisting that the “end game” is for companies to “build their plants in the United States” with no tariffs.
The interview touched on social media’s alleged censorship of conservative voices, like Rep. Devin Nunes, who earlier this week opened a lawsuit against Twitter. Asked what regulation he would like to see imposed on social media companies, Trump said he hates “the concept of regulation on media,” but claimed apparent “collusion between Democrats.”
“It’s hard to believe I won,” he said. “If you think about it, I had Facebook, Google, Twitter, everybody against me. I have -- the media is almost totally against me. And yet I won. 306 to 223; people can’t even believe it. I won. Because I’m able to get the word out through my social media, because I have great social media -- but I’ll tell you, it’s much tougher than it should be.”
Though not having the same inclination as Sen. Elizabeth Warren to break up these tech companies, he criticized them for being stricter on conservatives than Democrats.
Trump also addressed the heat he’s taken this week for criticizing McCain -- who died last August – during a speech to workers at an Army tank plant in Ohio, saying: “I never liked him much. I really probably never will."
Trump blasted McCain for voting against a bid to roll back ObamaCare, being involved in handing over the so-called Steele Dossier to the FBI, and supporting military intervention in Iraq.
“[W]hat he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that could have had great health care, it’s not good. So I’m not a fan of John McCain, and that’s fine,” Trump said.
With the long-awaited Mueller report rumored to be wrapping up soon, Trump dismissed the notion that anything substantial would be revealed regarding supposed Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
“If you look over the past two years, how many breaking news stories was there about me that turned out to be nonexistent? So many of them,” he said.
Despite battling on multiple fronts, Trump was still optimistic that common ground could be reached with Democrats -- who he suggested appear more invested in infrastructure than Republicans.
“I like, frankly, owning our own roads, owning our bridges. I don’t like selling them to other countries,” he said, adding: “I think it’s very feasible because I think [Democrats] want to do it. I mean, Nancy Pelosi told me very strongly they want to do infrastructure.”
He then shifted gears to immigration, which he derided as a “total disaster in this country.”
“We have laws that are so bad; people pouring in,” Trump said. He lavished praise on immigration officials but said that their working conditions would be remarkably improved with a wall – which he insisted he was committed to building.
“We’re building the wall and it’s going up fast, big, strong, looks good, not the horrible thing that they were building before I got here. We’re building the wall now. We’re going to have a lot of wall built pretty soon. But if you don’t have that, you can’t have border security,” he said.