Main Insights from Trump’s Fox News Town Hall

With the Iowa Caucuses just around the corner, Trump engaged with Iowans and Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha McCallum at the downtown Iowa Events Center, while nearby at Drake University, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis engaged in their own two-person debate hosted by CNN.

When questioned about the vice presidential running mate selection process, Trump asserted, “I know who it’s going to be,” yet refrained from disclosing any names. Senior campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Miller revealed that Trump had discussed the desired “qualities” with close allies but remained tight-lipped about specifics.

“That’s an issue that we really have not in any great detail discussed,” LaCivita said. “I’m sure when that times comes, everybody will know who it is.”

Recent months have seen widespread speculation regarding Trump’s possible running mate, with various names circulating, including GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace, South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, and Trump’s GOP rival and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Regarding Chris Christie dropping out, Trump commented, “Nobody cared too much.”

“Nobody cared too much about that,” Trump said of Christie’s dropping out of the race earlier Wednesday. But he pointed to an exchange caught on a hot microphone in which Christie appeared to be saying that Haley would “get smoked” in the race.

“I know her very well, and I happen to believe that Chris Christie is right,” Trump said of Haley, who served as ambassador during his administration. “One of the few things he’s been right about.”

Trump continues to hold substantial leads in both Iowa and national polls, surpassing all contenders for the Republican nomination. In a December Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, 51% of likely Republican caucusgoers selected Trump as their top choice for president. DeSantis and Haley followed with 19% and 16%, respectively. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, active in Iowa campaigning, secured a distant fourth place at 5%, while Christie, focusing on New Hampshire and not campaigning in Iowa, held a 4% position.

When Trump was asked later if he would be willing to mend bridges with his primary opponents, he said, “Oh, sure, I will.”

“I’ve already started to invite Christie back,” he said, spurring laughs from the crowd.

In remarks to reporters, Jason Miller, a senior campaign advisor to Trump, referred to the DeSantis and Haley faceoff as the “junior varsity loser’s bracket debate.”

When questioned by Baier in the town hall about the potential for retribution, Trump, who had been explicit about seeking revenge against political opponents during his campaign, took a less direct stance, stating, “I won’t have time for retribution.”

“A lot of people would say that’s not so bad,” Trump said, ticking through political and legal battles facing him before dismissing the idea that they would dominate his presidency.

“We’re going to have a success that’s so great that I won’t have time for retribution,” he said. “There won’t be retribution; there will be success.”

When pressed for clarity on abortion, Trump stands by his criticism of certain individuals on the issue. Rebecca, a mother of six from Ogden chosen by Fox to pose a question to Trump, sought clear guidance. While previously vocal in celebrating Trump, she expressed concern over his recent comments attributing key Republican election losses to the abortion issue. Trump has labeled a ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, as seen in an Iowa law, as a “terrible thing.”

“It’s such an important question for me,” she said.

“I understand where you’re coming from,” Trump told her. But he defended his criticism of some Republicans on the issue, saying that although “you would love them on the issue,” some “have just been decimated in the election.”

“We’re going to come up with something that people want and people like,” he said.