Donald Trump Talks of ‘Great Respect’ for Megyn Kelly in First Sit-Down Interview

Donald Trump Megyn Kelly
Eric Liebowitz/FOX

Donald Trump’s first sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly since their contentious exchange at the Aug. 6 GOP debate was heavily promoted and highly anticipated, but what it wasn’t was all that heated.

In fact, Trump had a more conciliatory tone toward Kelly than he did during points before the primary, when his rhetoric even forced Fox News chief Roger Ailes to issue a rebuke. Fox News at one point said that Trump has an “extreme, sick obsession” with Kelly.

“I have great respect for you that you were able to call me and say, ‘Let’s get together and let’s talk.’ To me, I would not have done that. I don’t say that as a positive. I think it is a negative for me.” He seemed to signal that they had a new relationship after “you and I were having a little difficulty.”

The interview was taped a couple of weeks ago, but was the highlight of a one-hour primetime special that aired on Fox called “Megyn Kelly Presents,” with additional interviews with O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro and actress Laverne Cox.

In the tradition of Barbara Walters interviews, its focus was more on the personal than the political. Trump said that he has “a very big heart. A lot of people don’t understand.” He talked about the death of his brother and his failed past marriages.

He defended the tone of his primary campaign, telling Kelly that his tweeting is a “modern day form of fighting back” and that “if I were soft, if I were ‘presidential’…If I would not have fought back the way I fought back, I don’t think I would have been successful.”

He did say that he “absolutely” had some regrets over some of what he said — but he did not elaborate. “I could have done certain things [differently]. I could have used different language,” Trump said.

He did acknowledge that his retweets have gotten him into trouble.

Kelly asked him about his attacks on her, including his retweeting of supporters’ comments calling her a “bimbo.”

“Did I say that?” Trump asked.

“Many times,” Kelly answered.

“Excuse me,” Trump replied.

He then said to Kelly, “Over your life, Megyn, you have been called a lot worse, wouldn’t you say?”

She said that it wasn’t about her, and then asked him whether he would stop such retweeting activity if he is elected president.

“I am going to stop doing that about you now, because I think I like our relationship right now,” he said.

Asked about why Trump thought she was unfair to him at the first debate, on Aug. 6, Trump noted that it was the first time he had been in a debate and she was posing the first question to him. It was about the way he has talked about women.

Trump said that he thought the question was “unfair.” “First of all, I didn’t think it was a question. I thought it was more of a statement,” he said.

Although he complained that Kelly was not “nice” in the debate, face-to-face with her, Trump said that he doesn’t “really blame you, because you are doing your thing. From my standpoint, I don’t have to like it.”

He said that Kelly may have been doing him a favor because he thought, “If I could get through this debate with those questions, you can get through anything.”

He also said that the debate was the first time that he realized he could win.

“I felt very comfortable with the people I was competing against,” he said.

It wasn’t much of a coincidence that late on Monday, Priorities USA Action, the pro-Hillary superPAC heavily funded by entertainment figures, unveiled two new ads that take aim at Trump’s remarks about women. In one, women parrot some of Trump’s outrageous comments on the campaign trail and in interviews, including the remark that he made after his contentious exchange with Kelly at the first GOP debate in August. “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.”

Trump was clearly pleased with the detente with Kelly, enough to promote the interview on Twitter and event to live tweet the one-on-one. Much of his tweets during the hour were retweets of praise from his followers.

“Well, that is it. Well done Megyn — and they all lived happily ever after,” he wrote.

Asked how he will view the campaign if he loses in November, Trump said, “If I don’t go all the way and I don’t win, I will consider it a complete and total waste of time, energy and money.”