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Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to “hit back” hard against rivals at the next Republican debate, despite recent pledges to tone down his brash style and attempts to act more dignified on the campaign trail.
“I can’t act overly presidential because I’m going to have people attacking me from every side,” he said on TODAY. Trump said he plans to defend himself against attacks he expects to come “from all different angles."
"I would have a very, very presidential demeanor when I win, but until such time you have to hit back. When you hit back, you’re no longer presidential, unfortunately," he said.
But Trump didn't care to dignify his answer when it came to the latest criticism against him from Mitt Romney. The former Republican presidential nominee slammed Trump in a speech later Thursday as "a phony, a fraud," a misogynist, and a bully who threatens America's future.
Romney is among growing band of Republican operatives, donors and elected officials backing an effort to block Trump's path to the nomination.
"Mitt Romney is a stiff,” Trump said, noting Romney was "horrible" candidate who got "decimated” in the 2008 presidential election.
Trump's standing as the Republican front-runner for his party’s nomination was secured with a string of victories on Super Tuesday, when he won seven states and boosted his total wins to 10.
On TODAY, Trump also defended the way he stumbled over repudiating the support of the Ku Klux Klan and its former leader David Duke. He initially blamed a "lousy earpiece" for failing to hear repeated questions about both, but on Thursday repeated his claim that he disavows the support of white supremacists.
"I don’t want their vote, and I’ve said it," he said.