BIRCH RUN, Mich. — Donald Trump says his campaign is prepared to lay out specific policy plans. He’s just not ready yet.
And in the meantime, he’s selling his strong personality and criticizing his rivals — particularly Jeb Bush — for a lack of vigor.
“There’s no energy there, no energy. We need energy. We need tone,” Trump said of Bush during a 50-minute speech to more than 2,000 people at a Republican fundraising dinner in Michigan, his first public appearance since the first GOP primary debate. “We have heads being chopped off because there are Christians in the Middle East. . . . The world is cracking up and they’re worried about my tone.”
It was Trump’s first appearance as a presidential candidate in Michigan, where he decried China’s decision to devalue its currency and Ford Motor Co.’s planned $2.5 billion investment in Mexico. He told reporters in Birch Run, north of Flint, that he would announce policy specifics over the next two weeks, but cautioned: “You really have to be flexible on jobs and everything else.”
Trump, the real estate developer and former reality TV star who has been dominating the race this summer, said currency devaluation “means suck the blood out of the United States” and vowed that if he were president, a Ford plant planned in Mexico would be built in the United States, preferably Michigan.
Trump also poked fun at fellow Republican candidate Rand Paul’s height, raising his hand to his chest and saying, “Rand, I’ve had you up to here.” He criticized Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders after Black Lives Matter protesters derailed one of his rallies.
“I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was disgusting. That showed such weakness,” said Trump, who vowed that something similar would never happen to him. “I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will. But that was a disgrace.”
Trump’s campaign so far has been dominated by one firestorm after the next, the latest involving Fox News personality Megyn Kelly’s debate questions. The former reality television star, furious over what he deemed unfair treatment, lashed out at Kelly and the network, telling CNN on Friday that during the debate Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
But the feud between Trump and Fox News, one of the most powerful voices in Republican and conservative circles, appeared to thaw Monday after the network’s chairman, Roger Ailes, reached out to Trump directly to clear the air.
“I assured him that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness & balance,” Ailes said in a statement.
The network announced shortly after that Trump would be appearing on two of its shows Tuesday, including a lengthy interview with Sean Hannity.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m fine with it,” Trump told CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning after concluding a brief phone interview with “Fox & Friends” in which Trump made no mention of Kelly or her questions.
In the interview with Hannity for Tuesday night, Trump said he was prepared to spend $345 million or more to fund his establishment-bucking campaign as long as he is doing well in the polls.
“Sure. You saw my income, my income is $400 million a year,” Trump responded, according to highlights released by the network. “Sure, I would spend it if I am doing well!”
The billionaire businessman’s campaign has also begun soliciting fundraising dollars through its website. Despite the appeals, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Trump will continue to finance the campaign, but has “been overwhelmed by unsolicited contributions.”
She said Trump will match any money coming in.
Trump was pressed by reporters in Michigan on his lack of specific policy proposals since declaring his presidential run. He argued that, in business, flexibility is key.
Trump also refused once again to rule out a third-party run.
“I want to run as a Republican. That’s what I’m doing,” he said. “That’s the best way to win. I’m going to keep the door open on the other if I’m not treated fairly.”
DAVID EGGERT AND JILL COLVIN, Associated Press
Colvin reported from Newark, New Jersey.