Anxiously awaiting the moment Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump takes himself out, five months and running now, the real estate tycoon’s critics thought they had their moment when he appeared to mock a disabled New York Times reporter.
But, alas, it was not to be.
Trump interrupted his Thanksgiving holiday to set the record straight that he did not know the Times reporter was handicapped.
“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovaleski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I don’t know if he’s J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his prime – or somebody of less athletic or physical ability.”
The “controversy” began when Trump was speaking to supporters at a rally, Tuesday, in South Carolina and referenced a previous remark made by Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which restricts the movement of his arms, according to CNN.
Kovaleski had reported on people in New Jersey allegedly seen celebrating the 9/11 attacks.
“Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember.’ He’s going, ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said,’” Trump said at the rally. “That was 14 years ago – they didn’t issue a retraction.”
It didn’t help that Trump was flailing his arms around as he spoke, giving his critics an excuse to say he was imitating Kovaleski.
But Trump said in Thursday’s statement that he had no idea the reporter was disabled.
“In my speech before over 10,000 people in Myrtle Beach, S.C., I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago,” he said, according to the post. “If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like.”
Trump reiterated that had he known, he would have respected Kovaleski’s physical limitations.
“If I did know, I would definitely not say anything about his appearance,” Trump said. “I have tremendous respect for people who are physically challenged and have spent tens of millions of dollars throughout buildings all over the world on making them handicapped accessible and ADA compliant.”
Oh, by the way, Trump demanded an apology from The New York Times, after a spokesperson said it was “outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters.”
He may want to get comfortable awaiting a response from the Gray Lady. Kovaleski maintains the two knew each other for years.
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