GOP frontrunner Donald Trump says he wasn't mocking a New York Times reporter's muscular disorder when he made jerking motions seeming to imitate the man's condition during a speech last week, saying today at a rally in Sarasota, Florida, that he was just showing a reporter who was "groveling."
"I was very expressive in saying it, and they said that I was mocking him," Trump said. "I would never mock a person that has difficulty. I would never do that. I'm telling you, I would never do it."
Trump has insisted that he does not know the reporter, Serge Kovaleski, and was unaware of his condition. Kovaleski has disputed Trump's claim and said he was on a first-name basis with the real estate mogul when he covered him for the New York Daily News in the 1980s.
"I didn't know him, it's possible, probable that I met him somewhere along the line, but I deal with reporters every day," Trump told the crowd. "Now he's going, 'Well he knew me and we were on a first name basis.' Give me a break."
Trump went on say that he doesn't take his imitation back, since he says he was not imitating a disability but a groveling reporter.
"I don't take that back because the person was groveling in terms of creating statements," Trump said, referring to a story that Kovaleski wrote for the Washington Post a week after the September 11 terror attacks that referred to allegations of "tailgate-style parties on rooftops" in New Jersey after the World Trade Center towers fell.
Trump has pointed to Kovaleski's story as evidence that his claim that "thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the World Trade Center’s collapse. But Kovaleski has since said he never heard about "thousands or even hundreds" of people celebrating and that he doesn’t recall the allegations of isolated celebrations ever being confirmed.
Trump accused Kovaleski of trying to retract his story and continued to defend his original claim that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated.
"I didn't like the fact that he wrote a story and he took it back, because he talked about tailgate parties and other things you all saw, and many people knew what took place and everybody knows it took place worldwide, so why wouldn't it take place in very strong Muslim communities, where they have a lot of Muslim communities?" Trump said.
Trump went on to bemoan standards of political correctness when talking about handicaps, saying that "it's complicated out there," and that he doesn’t have time to be politically correct.
"Never say a disable person or the disabled, say a person with disabilities. In other words you say the other, you’re in trouble," Trump said. "OK, Never use the term handicapped parking, use only accessible parking, even though people have handicapped permits. So it's so complicated out there, it's tough. And we want to be politically correct, but a lot of us don't have time to be politically correct."