Matt Lauer Demands Trump Tell Convention Speakers to ‘Tone Down the Rhetoric’

As presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump arrived in Cleveland Monday afternoon, he was greeted by NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer hectoring him about the “tone” of the GOP convention, which had barely started: “There’s been so much violence in the country in the last couple of weeks. People are on edge, they’re tense. You add to that the passion that comes with political debate and there are people who are truly afraid that things could boil over here in Cleveland.”

In the interview, aired on Tuesday morning, Lauer demanded Trump promise to keep convention speakers in line: “Would you be willing to make a pledge to speak to everyone involved in this convention and say, ‘Please tone down the rhetoric’?...So can you say to the people who are going to take to that podium this week, ‘No personal attacks, no vitriol, keep it civil’?”

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Trump responded:

Sure. And I think it's going to be toned down, I think it’s going to be a great rhetoric....and when you say civil, we can't be too civil when you have a situation like Hillary Clinton with all that she’s done and all of the mistakes that she’s made. So they’ll be brought up. But I do think it will be very, very civil.

Will Lauer attempt to extract a similar pledge from Hillary Clinton at the start of the Democratic National Convention next week?  

On Monday, the morning show host wrung his hands over the possibility of the GOP convention being dominated by “inflammatory rhetoric.”

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Here is a full transcript of Lauer’s interview with Trump aired on the July 19 Today:

7:10 AM ET

MATT LAUER: As we mentioned, we spoke exclusively to the Trumps when they arrived here in Cleveland. We were hoping to get a quick interview with them on the tarmac. Instead, Mr. Trump invited us on to the plane, where we talked about a number of things, including his wife's speech.

[TO TRUMP]: Welcome to Cleveland.

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much.  

LAUER: Can I be the first to welcome you?

TRUMP: You can, indeed.

LAUER: Is it surreal to finally be here? We’ve talked about this week for so long.

TRUMP: I think it's just a great feeling, it’s a great accomplishment, but the real accomplishment, and you know what it is, make America great again. That's what I am doing it for, that’s why I’m doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The question is on adoption of the resolution.

LAUER: Already there’s been a couple of contentious moments, I know you’ve heard about this. An entire delegation walked out today over a vote they wanted and didn’t get.

MAN: The ayes have it.

LAUER: What’s your reaction to it?

TRUMP: That wasn’t really a vote about me, that was about changing the rules in the year 2020.

LAUER: Well, they wanted the rules changed now, but it would have never taken place til 2020.

TRUMP: Well, it was not going to happen and we got more votes than anybody in the history of the Republican Party. It's never happened like this, and I think the press like to build it up, but it really was about rules changes for 2020.

LAUER: There’s been so much violence in the country in the last couple of weeks. People are on edge, they’re tense. You add to that the passion that comes with political debate and there are people who are truly afraid that things could boil over here in Cleveland. Would you be willing to make a pledge to speak to everyone involved in this convention and say, “Please tone down the rhetoric”?

TRUMP: Sure. And I think it's going to be toned down, I think it’s going to be a great rhetoric, but it is also going to be law and order. We need law and order in the country.

LAUER: So can you say to the people who are going to take to that podium this week, “No personal attacks, no vitriol, keep it civil”?

TRUMP: I think to a large extent that – you know, it is a convention, after all, and when you say civil, we can't be too civil when you have a situation like Hillary Clinton with all that she’s done and all of the mistakes that she’s made. So they’ll be brought up. But I do think it will be very, very civil.

LAUER: I watched your interview on 60 Minutes with your running mate, Governor Mike Pence. One of the things that came up in that was his vote in support of the Iraq war. You said in that interview everyone’s entitled to make a mistake. You’ve been hammering Secretary Clinton on that exact same vote for the better part of a year. Have you lost the right now to do that?

TRUMP: No, not at all. She’s made a lot of mistakes. She makes too many mistakes. She’s got bad judgment –

LAUER: But what’s different about her vote for that war versus Governor Pence?

TRUMP: Because she’s wrong on the war, she’s wrong on Syria, she’s wrong on Libya, she’s wrong on everything. She’s got bad judgment and Bernie Sanders said it – I said it also – but Bernie Sanders said she suffers from bad judgment and she also suffers, Matt, from bad instincts.

LAUER: Your campaign adviser, Mr. Manafort, picked a little bit of a fight with the governor of this state. He criticized Governor Kasich for not showing up at this convention and supporting you. And Paul Manafort said he’s being petulant and he’s embarrassing the state of Ohio. Do you agree?

TRUMP: Well, look, he signed a pledge, number one. But honestly, he got beaten so badly. I won, I guess, 37 states, even more than that, and he won one. And if I got beaten that badly, I wouldn't show up either. So he doesn’t have to show up, it’s fine.

LAUER: But do you want to pick a fight with a popular governor of a state like Ohio when you’re in the early stages of this election?

TRUMP: What are you gonna do? I don’t know if he’s popular. He might not be popular after the convention. I don’t mind that he’s not here. I think it’s fine.

LAUER: So is he embarrassing the state of Ohio by not showing up ?  

TRUMP: I don’t want to say that, I love Ohio.

LAUER: Last thing, what do you want to come out of this week? I mean, you get to start it off tonight, Mrs. Trump, what are you hoping for? What would be a success for you?

MELANIA TRUMP: We want secure and safety for all Americans and also people around the world. What is going on now, it's not acceptable. We need love and compassion and kindness to bring us altogether.

LAUER: Again, that was the Trump's yesterday, just moments after they touched down here at the airport in Cleveland.

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