Santa Fe New Mexican

Trump, pivoting toward policy, urges simplifyin­g the tax code

- By Alan Rappeport

After days in which Donald J. Trump engaged in a tense war of words with Megyn Kelly over her questionin­g of him at last week’s Fox News debate, he spent Tuesday trying to steer the campaign conversati­on toward actual policy issues.

In a series of television interviews, Trump shed some light on his tax policy, explaining on Fox News that he would seek to simplify the existing system before overhaulin­g it and attempting to create a flat tax or an entirely new structure.

“Put H&R Block out of business,” Trump said, calling for a simplified tax return.

In a separate interview on CNN, Trump said that he would consider partly defunding Planned Parenthood. He said that while he is generally antiaborti­on, he supports exceptions for rape and incest. And he dismissed suggestion­s that his previous statements about women would harm him at the polls.

“I’ve always been good to women and there will be nobody better to women as president,” Trump said, noting that he has put women in charge of major constructi­on projects and that he pays them the same salary as male counterpar­ts.

Besides discussing policy, Trump dismissed reports that he might take a pledge to run as a Republican and continued to keep open the option of an independen­t bid if the Republican Party does not treat him fairly.

“We’re going to keep the door open, we’re going to see what happens,” Trump said on Fox.

Regarding a recent shake-up among campaign staff members, Trump acknowledg­ed that the well-known strategist Roger Stone was no longer an adviser. He called him a “nice guy,” but said that he was not really using his expertise and was seeking too much personal publicity.

Trump’s shift in focus comes as new polls showed him retaining his lead in two crucial states despite what many analysts saw as a mixed debate performanc­e. A Suffolk University survey found that he holds a 5-point lead over Gov. Scott Walker in Iowa, although a majority of potential caucus participan­ts had lost confidence in him after last Thursday’s showing. In New Hampshire, a Franklin Pierce/

Boston Herald poll showed Trump with a narrowing lead.

Trump did not pull punches when it came to his rivals. Pointing to his enduring strength in the polls, he said that Walker was trailing him in Iowa because of economic troubles in his home state, Wisconsin. As for the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, Trump said he was beholden to special interests because of all the big donors he relies on. As for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trump expressed no hard feelings about comments she made on Monday saying that she did not know him that well and had attended his wedding largely for its entertainm­ent value. He has said the Democratic candidate, formerly first lady and secretary of state, had to come because he has given so much in donations to the Clintons over the years.

“It sounds like she feels like she made a mistake,” Trump said. “It’s sort of an interestin­g thing.”

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