US must fix 'own mess' before lecturing world: Donald Trump
"I don't think we have a right to lecture," Trump told The New York Times from his hotel suite in Cleveland Wednesday. "Look at what is happening in our country. How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?"
During a 45-minute conversation, Trump "explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance," the Times reported.
Trump spoke about his "America First" foreign policy approach with the Times, underscoring his plans to make the U.S. stronger by, for example, forcing allies to pay for their own defenses instead of the U.S. footing much of the bill.
"I give great credit to him for being able to turn that around," Trump said. "Some people say that it was staged, you know that. I don't think so."
Trump said his "America First" policy is not the same isolationist view that dates back before World War II.
"To me, 'America First' is a brand-new, modern term," Trump told the Times. I never related it to the past.
"We are going to take care of this country first before we worry about everyone else in the world."
Trump added the United States must "fix our own mess" before working to fix other nations.
He re-emphasized his stance on forcing allies to commit to paying defense costs the United States has shouldered for decades, reviewing longstanding treaties he deems unfavorable and redefining U.S. partnerships.
Other countries would adjust, he said. Trump made similar comments in April.
"I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it's very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don't know what we are doing and we can't see straight in our own country," he said. "Just look about what's happening with our country. How are we going to lecture when people are shooting our policemen in cold blood. How are we going to lecture when you see the riots and the horror going on in our own country."
Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's campaign pounced on Trump's comments Thursday morning, reiterating the campaign's position the Trump is "temperamentally unfit and fundamentally ill-prepared to be our commander in chief."
"For decades, the United States has given an ironclad guarantee to our NATO allies: We will come to their defence if they are attacked, just as they came to our defense after 9/11. Donald Trump was asked if he would honor that guarantee. He said ... maybe, maybe not," Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. "The president is supposed to be the leader of the free world. Donald Trump apparently doesn't even believe in the free world."