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Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump pledged Monday during a speech in west Michigan that he “would never kill” journalists if he’s elected president, though he considers most reporters to be “lying, disgusting people.”

“I hate some of these people, but I’d never kill them,” Trump said at a Monday night campaign rally in suburban Grand Rapids.

Pointing to reporters and news crews covering the rally in the DeltaPlex Arena, Trump added: “I hate them. ... These people, honestly, I’ll be honest, I would never kill them. I would never do that.”

For a moment, the bombastic billionaire started to second guess his comments as the crowd of 8,100 supporters cheered.

“Uh, let’s see, uh?” Trump said. “No, I would never do that.

“Some of them are such lying, disgusting people. It’s true.”

Trump made the comments in response to media criticism he’s taken in recent days for saying it was a “great honor” to be recently praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During an interview Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough questioned how Trump could be receptive to Putin’s compliments given that journalists in Russia who have questioned Putin have ended up dead.

“Well, also he’s a person that kills journalists and political opponents and invades countries. That would be a concern, would it not?” Scarborough said.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump responded, in a critique aimed at President Barack Obama.

Trump spoke for an hour Monday night in a meandering monologue of commentary that ranged from criticizing Ford Motor Co.’s operations in Mexico to his opponents in the race for the White House.

The GOP poll leader took aim at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, making a sexually derogatory remark that the former first lady and secretary of state “got schlonged” by Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“Everything that’s been involved in Hillary has been losses. You take a look. Even her race to Obama. She was going to beat Obama,” Trump said. “... How does it get worse? ... She was favored to win and she got schlonged. She lost.”

At one point, Trump commented on Clinton being temporarily missing after a commercial break during Saturday’s Democratic presidential candidate debate.

“I know where she went. It’s disgusting,” Trump told the crowd. “I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood

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