Donald Trump normally projects the image of a guy with only one gear: warp drive. But on today's Morning Joe, Trump made an interesting admission, saying that in Iowa, "I sort of just went through the motions a little bit." According to Trump, he went less than flat-out in the Hawkeye State because he had been told he couldn't win, until a poll at the very end of the campaign indicated that he could.
Note: there was an odd moment at the very beginning of the phone interview. When Mika Brzezinski began by asking "let's talk about Iowa. What happened?" there was an awkward pause on Trump's end. "O-k-a-a-a-y," he eventually responded. The pause was so strange that Joe Scarborough asked "can you hear us?" Trump said he could hear fine, and the interview went on from there. So . . . was Trump distracted, or might he have been annoyed by Mika's entirely reasonable opening question focusing on his second-place finish in Iowa?
Question: do readers buy Trump's claim that in Iowa, he mailed it in because he was convinced he couldn't win? Or was that simply an excuse for a disappointing second-place finish?
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It's 31 past the hour. Joining us now, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. It's his first interview since the Iowa caucus. Donald, good morning.
DONALD TRUMP: Good morning.
MIKA: How's it going?
TRUMP:It's going good. It's going really good.
MIKA: Okay, so let's talk about Iowa. What happened?
TRUMP: [pause] O-k-a-a-a-y
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can you hear us?
TRUMP: I can hear you fine, Joe.
JOE: So the question is you talked about it some last night. What's your postmortem on Iowa. What do you think happened there?
TRUMP: Well, I think that I did well there. I think that I came in second place, a strong second place.
. . .
JOE: I'm showing a chart right now on TV. This is not even Super PAC money. If this were Super PAC money the numbers would be a lot higher.
MIKA: This is incredible.
JOE: If I am investing in Donald Trump's operation, I would invest with a guy that gets the most bang for his buck. That is you. At $300 [dollars per Iowa vote.] But then there's the question should you have spent more money in Iowa? You were the most efficient spender there but going to New Hampshire, going to South Carolina, will you spend more money to make sure you finish the deal in future states?
TRUMP: Joe, there's no limit on the spending. The reason I didn't spend that much in Iowa was everyone told me I couldn't win so I sort of just went through the motions a little bit, and then I came in second place. I was surprised because it only came out the last couple of days where it looked like I could win Iowa with this poll.