U.S. President Donald Trump used a Super Bowl pregame interview to rail against Democrats, accusing them of hatred and offering schoolyard insults about his potential 2020 rivals.
“I see the hatred. ... They don’t care about fairness, they don’t care about lying,” Trump said in a taped interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, which aired on Fox hours before sports’ biggest night of the year.
Trump spent his weekend in Florida as most of the political world has been focused on Iowa, where Democrats on Monday will cast their first votes to choose the party’s nominee.
But Trump’s Super Bowl night may best be remembered by an errant -- now deleted tweet -- congratulating the state of Kansas and not mentioning Missouri, where the Chiefs play their home games at Missouri-based Arrowhead Stadium, for the Kansas City Chiefs’ win.
Prompted by Hannity, Trump went through most of the major candidates one by one, deriding “Sleepy Joe” Biden, the former vice president, accusing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren of telling “fairy tales,” and labeling Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, as “a communist,” even though he’s not.
"I think he's a communist," Trump told Hannity. "I mean, you know, look, I think of communism when I think of Bernie. Now, you could say socialist, but didn't he get married in Moscow? And that's wonderful, Moscow is wonderful."
"Might have been his honeymoon, I'm not sure." Hannity said. "Well, whatever," Trump continued "But you don't necessarily think in terms of marriage, Moscow. And it's wonderful. I'm not knocking it, but I think of Bernie sort of as a socialist but far beyond a socialist."
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But Trump seemed most preoccupied by the candidate who has chosen to skip the early-voting sates: Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has been blanketing the airwaves with anti-Trump ads.
The president’s campaign and Bloomberg’s ran dueling, multimillion-dollar ads during Sunday night’s game, with both spending an estimated $10 million for 60 seconds of air time, which Trump used to purchase two 30-second spots.
Trump’s first featured the story of Alice Marie Johnson, a nonviolent drug offender whose life sentence Trump commuted after reality TV star Kim Kardashian West championed her case. The ad showed footage of the emotional moment when Johnson was released from prison and reunited with her family.
“My heart is just bursting with gratitude,” she tells the camera. “I want to thank President Donald John Trump. Hallelujah!”
“Thanks to President Trump, people like Alice are getting a second chance,” the ad’s text reads, adding: “Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done.”
A second Trump ad — which ran after the game had ended, instead of during the game as his campaign had said — argued that, “Under President Trump, America is stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever before.”
Bloomberg, whose spot was scheduled to air during the second half of the game, also chose an emotional subject, featuring a grieving mother who lost her son to gun violence. George Kemp Jr., who dreamed of one day playing in the NFL, was only 20 when he was fatally shot in 2013.
Bloomberg is a longtime backer of what he calls commonsense gun legislation and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since his tenure as New York mayor to combat gun violence.
In the Fox interview, Trump mocked Bloomberg’s height and accused him of making a special request for a box to stand on if he qualifies for future presidential debates. Bloomberg’s campaign denies that is the case.
“Why should he get a box to stand on?” Trump asked. “Why should he be entitled to that, really? Then does that mean everyone else gets a box?”
Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said Trump was “lying.″
“He is a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan,” she said.
A Democratic official said there have been no discussions about the topic, noting that Bloomberg has yet to qualify for a debate. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a policy of not discuss conversations with candidates.
Earlier Sunday, Trump fired off a series of post-midnight anti-Bloomberg tweets, calling the billionaire “part of the Fake News” and insisting he “is going nowhere” and “just wasting his money,” despite rising in the polls.
Bloomberg responded with his own aside: “Looks like our ads are keeping you up at night. We’ve got one in particular you should watch today.” Bloomberg’s 60-second spot will focus on the impact of gun violence.
Trump in the Fox interview also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats. Asked whether it would be possible for him to work with the opposition party after they had impeached him and tried to remove him from office, Trump said he’d “like to, but it’s pretty hard when you think about it because it’s been such ... I use the word ‘witch hunt,’ use the word ‘hoax.’”
“I’m not sure that they can do it, to be honest,” he added. “I think they just want to win and it doesn’t matter how they win.” Trump is expected to be acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday.
The interview aired just days before Trump was set to deliver a State of the Union address that aides say will offer an optimistic message to a divided nation.
Trump spent his weekend golfing and mingling with guests at his dues-paying Mar-a-Lago club. On Saturday night, he appeared at an event there hosted by the “Trumpettes” fan club.
And on Sunday he attended an annual Super Bowl watch party at one of his Florida golf courses, where he and first lady Melania Trump were welcomed by a performance from a local college marching band and cheerleaders.