Maybe after binging on all those Oreos, Stephen Colbert was feeling a little sluggish.
On Tuesday night, the comedian welcomed Republican presidential race front-runner Donald Trump on “The Late Show” for what many expected would be a tough interview. After all, since his debut two weeks ago, Colbert has devoted a considerable amount of airtime to mercilessly roasting the former reality-TV star turned populist crusader. (Not to mention, Colbert’s the guy who did this.)
Colbert was tough on Trump in his monologue, joking that “one day I might be able to tell my grandkids I interviewed the last president of the United States,” and he began their conversation by thanking Trump for running for president because of all the punch lines his candidacy has provided. “I’m not gonna say this stuff writes itself, but you certainly do deliver it on time every day.”
But once Trump was onstage, Colbert mostly allowed the candidate to repeat familiar talking points about Mexico -- he’s going to build a “beautiful” wall with a “big, beautiful” door -- and China.
The toughest moment in the interview came when Colbert brought up Trump’s involvement with the birther movement, but even this (very fair) question was teed up in an almost apologetic manner.
“I’m going to throw you a big, fat meatball. This is the last time you ever have to address this question if you hit the ball,” Colbert said, before asking, “Barack Obama, born in the United States?”
“I don’t talk about it anymore,” said Trump who, you may recall, was once one of the most vocal proponents of the conspiracy theory that President Obama was secretly born in Kenya. “I talk about jobs, I talk about our veterans being horribly treated.”
“That meatball is now being dragged down the steps of the subway by a rat,” Colbert responded, in reference to a viral video of a particularly determined New York City rat dragging a full slice of pizza down the subway stairs.
“I’m not talking about that,” reiterated Trump, who had virtually the same reaction during an interview in July with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Trump, who once said he had a team of investigators in Hawaii looking into Obama’s origins, has grown suspiciously quiet on the issue since the president released his long-form birth certificate in 2011. He’s never renounced the claims, much less apologized, and has instead embraced other discredited theories.
That’s not to say that Trump walked away completely unscathed. In a game called "Trump or Colbert?”, the candidate was presented with quotes and had to say whether they came from him or Colbert’s egomaniacal persona from “The Colbert Report."
“For years I played an over-the-top conservative character,” Colbert said. “Not as long as you did.”
For the record, Trump knew himself pretty well -- but then that shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Colbert’s musical guest, Roury, threw some shade in Trump’s direction by wearing a Mexico soccer jersey. On the back? Trump’s name with a bright red X through it.
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