Donald Trump made his first pointed comments on Sunday about the shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, calling the alleged gunman who killed three people -- including a police officer -- a “maniac” and an “extremist.”
“ I think it's terrible,” he said, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press." “It's more of the same. And I think it's a terrible thing. He's a maniac.”
Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a heated national debate after a secretly recorded video emerged this summer, showing executives talking about the donation of fetal tissue from abortions for research. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, has denied any wrongdoing by the organization. Many Republican presidential hopefuls have called for federal funds to be stripped from the group.
When asked on Sunday if heated rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood might lead people to commit acts of violence against the group, Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, said that it was not an issue and pointed blame toward the gunman.
“ I think he's a sick person. And I think he was probably a person ready to go,” said Trump of the alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, who according to law enforcement sources said "no more baby parts" when he was arrested.
Trump did note that the videos from Planned Parenthood were disturbing.
“I will tell you there is a tremendous group of people that think it's terrible, all of the videos that they've seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you're selling parts to a car,” he said. “ I mean, there are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.”
During Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, Trump also continued to vehemently defend his recollection of Arabs in New Jersey allegedly cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, despite local elected officials and law enforcement assailing the claim as false.
“I saw it on television. I saw clips. And so did many other people. And many people saw it in person,” Trump said. “I've had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We saw it. It was dancing in the streets.’”
Meanwhile, appearing on CBS' “Face the Nation” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush assailed Trump as “uninformed” and unfit to become president, citing Trump’s false statements on several issues, including the billionaire businessman’s claims that the Obama administration will allow 250,000 Syrian refugees into the country. (The White House has agreed to at least 10,000 refugees this fiscal year).
“Look, I just think he's uninformed,” Bush said. “The simple fact is that he's been wrong on Syria and on the refugees pretty consistently.”
In his quest for the GOP presidential nomination, Bush has struggled to gain much traction, remaining near the middle of the field for several months.