MACON, Ga. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump joked Monday that he may charge CNN for appearing in the next GOP primary debate — but probably won’t because he’d be called a “chicken.”
Trump bragged to about 5,000 backers Monday at a rally in Georgia that he’s been a ratings boon for networks hosting the presidential forums.
He suggested he would demand that CNN pay $5 million for him to appear in the next debate, scheduled for Dec. 15 in Las Vegas. Trump said he’d give the money to programs that help veterans.
“So what will happen is they’ll say, ‘Oh, Trump is chicken,'” he said, delighting his audience with his well-practiced diatribe against political reporters and “talking heads.”
Trump flew to Georgia after meeting with dozens of black pastors in his Manhattan offices. Some of the pastors said they wanted to challenge Trump about his racially charged rhetoric, from his comments casting Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals” to his strident opposition to resettling Syrian war refugees in the United States.
The candidate told his nearly all-white audience that the meeting in New York was “inspiring.”
“It was really terrific day,” he said.
Trump is trying to bolster his support among non-whites, a growing electoral force that helped propel President Barack Obama’s two victories.
Trump’s rally Monday evening featured the endorsement of black Georgia Republican Bruce LeVell, who has served as GOP chairman in the suburban Atlanta county of Gwinett. Herman Cain, a black radio host who ran for president in 2012, was among those introducing Trump.
As he often does at rallies, Trump boasted of his standing atop many GOP presidential preference polls. And he pledged to build a wide coalition. “I will win the Hispanics,” he said.
But some of Trump’s loudest ovations — from a crowd that included at least a few supporters wearing Confederate regalia — came as he touted the same positions that prompted concern from some of the pastors he’d met with hours before.
“Our borders are like sieves,” he said. “People are just pouring in.”
He promised, again, that “we’re gonna build a wall” and “Mexico is gonna pay for it.”
At another point, he boomed: “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country. I’m sorry. … We’ve gotta get our country back, folks.”
Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed from New York.