Donald Trump made the case Monday that he is best positioned among the presidential candidates to bridge the partisan divide in Washington.
A main example of his claim? He rebuilt an ice-skating rink in New York’s Central Park.
Addressing the bipartisan No Labels organization’s Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire, Trump pointed to his success in renovating New York City’s Wollman ice skating rink to explain why he would be a problem-solving president capable of “getting everybody together.”
“We’re talking about no labels… I got together with everybody – the city, the council – everything had to be done fast. The beauty of it is I did it in four months,” Trump said. “You can do that with this country. You can do it with the country.”
Trump said he finished ahead of schedule and under budget, after New York City officials spent six years and $12 million trying to do the same.
While the crowd applauded his successes, Trump also faced a series of combative questions from the audience of largely independent-minded voters.
Asked about how he could bridge divides as president after a campaign fueled by divisive rhetoric, Trump retorted that he went to an Ivy League school and knows “what’s divisive” and what isn’t.
But he conceded that he would be “much less divisive” as the campaign wears on and more of his 14 competitors for the Republican nomination drop out – “when it becomes a different kind of situation,” he said.
And he pointed to his rejection of political correctness, hammering home his point that other politicians are “afraid to say anything” because they are controlled by big-moneyed special interests.
Another audience member told Trump she didn’t feel he was a good candidate for women and pressed him on whether women would be paid the same as men and get to “choose what I do with my body” under a Trump administration.
After rehashing that he cherishes women and will care for women more than other candidates, Trump addressed the equal pay and abortion questions: “You’re going to make the same if you do as good a job. And I happen to be pro-life.”
Still another attendee sought to correct Trump on the amount South Korea pays to maintain the U.S. base on its home soil – an assertion Trump quickly shot down because “it’s peanuts compared to what it’s costing.”
Aware of his audience, though, Trump delivered more measured remarks to the No Labels crowd – eschewing the classically heated and sometimes inflammatory red meat lines that have become staples of his stump speech.
Instead, when asked about whether he would be prepared to compromise with Democrats as president – something his loyal tea party following is quick to reject – Trump didn’t balk. He embraced the term.
“The word compromise is not a bad word to me,” Trump said. “I like the word compromise.”
But Trump stressed that compromise should only come after asking for “three times more than what you want.” It’s a key tenet of his much-cited book, “The Art of the Deal.”
“We need compromise,” he said. “But it’s always great to compromise and win.”