Donald Trump and the Art of the Non-Apology

PHOTO: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio July 6, 2016.PlayAaron P. Bernstein/REUTERS
WATCH Donald Trump In A Minute

Donald Trump took the stage at a convention center on the outskirts of Cincinnati this week on a trip that was supposed to be solely focused on rival Hillary Clinton. The event was also a test run, with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich along for an audition of sorts for the role of vice president.

But instead of Trump’s keeping a pointed focus on Clinton with Gingrich-the-bulldog bolstering his attacks, Trump turned to another and very familiar topic: himself.

The presumptive GOP nominee sought to defend himself over recent controversial comments and social media posts and made one thing painfully clear -- he is not backing down in the face of criticism.

Trump referred to a tweet he sent out Saturday that depicted a six-pointed star, which appeared to be a Star of David, alongside Clinton and against a backdrop of cash. The tweet was subsequently deleted and Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, took responsibility for it. Trump at the event on Wednesday night for the first time publicly defended the tweet and disputed any suggestion that it was anti-Semitic, pointing out that Scavino’s wife is Jewish.

“On the tweet was a star. A star, like, a star, and I said because when I looked at it I didn't think anything. All of a sudden it turned out to be in the minds of the press only because it could have been a sheriff star. It could have been a regular star,” Trump began. He then accused the media of racially profiling by calling it a Star of David.

"So we have unbelievably dishonest media. So think of that. You have the star, which is fine. I said you should not have taken it down. They [Trump’s staff] took it down. I said, too bad. You should have left it up.”

Next, Trump vigorously defended his oft-said comments about former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein being "good" at killing terrorists.

"I was talking about terrorism. I said Saddam Hussein is a bad man. You heard this, right, you heard this? He's a bad man,” Trump began.

"I don't love Saddam Hussein. I hate Saddam Hussein, but he was damn good at killing terrorists,” he said.

Trump continued to talk about Iraq. "It's the Harvard University. It's the Harvard of terrorism. That's where you want to learn to be a terrorist, you go into Iraq. Boom, you're a terrorist. Boom!”

This was not the first time Trump has refused to apologize for offensive comments or positions. He came under fire in June for saying that a U.S.-born federal judge shouldn’t preside over a case against Trump University because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. He has stood by those comments.

""I am the least racist person, the least racist person that you’ve ever seen," Trump said then.

Trump has also offered no apologies to Sen. John McCain after saying he preferred war heroes who weren’t captured: or to journalist Megyn Kelly for calling her, among other things, a “bimbo;” or to President Obama for stoking the conspiracy theory that the president wasn’t born in the United States.

Googling the phrase, “Trump not sorry,” brings a slew of headlines.

And why?

It seems that in Trump’s mind, to apologize is to admit wrongdoing. And if there is one key to being Trump, it’s that he is never wrong.

“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong,” he told Jimmy Fallon in September. “I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”