Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday downplayed "vulgarities" uttered by Donald Trump and argued that children should be focusing on White House policy instead of the president's words.
During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd alluded to a tweet in which the president referred to him as a "son of a bitch" and to other inflammatory remarks made at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.
"The president of the United States in the past has been a beacon of freedom of the press," Todd told Mnuchin. "Instead, last night, he was praising authoritarian figures in China and North Korea and encouraging boos of the American press."
"Of course he believes in freedom of the press," Mnuchin insisted. "And he believes, more importantly, in protecting democracy around the world. And that's what we should be focused on, a week of policies."
"If that's what we should be focused on then why can't the president focus on that, sir?" Todd wondered. "Would you call last night's speech a focused speech on that?"
"I wasn't at the campaign rally as you know," the treasury secretary stuttered. "But again, don't take these campaign rallies and focus them on that's what it is."
"So, should we stop covering the campaign rallies?" Todd pressed. "If it doesn't matter what he says there, if we're to dismiss everything he says at a campaign rally as I think you're trying to imply, then are you saying we shouldn't cover these things?"
Mnuchin accused Todd of putting words in his mouth.
"You should obviously carry them," Mnuchin said. "What I'm trying to say is I'm focused on the policies."
"Many people including myself raise their kids to respect the office of the presidency," Todd observed. "When he uses vulgarity to talk about individuals, what are they supposed to tell their kids?"
"I'll be with my kids this morning," Mnuchin noted. "And I'll be focusing them on what the president is doing to protect the United States, it's citizens."
"So don't worry about his values?" Todd interrupted. "Don't worry about him as a role model?"
"I've never said that," Mnuchin remarked. "I don't know why you are putting these words in what I'm trying to say."
"What are you supposed to say to kids?" Todd tried again.
"Again, I think you should be focused on what the policies are," Mnuchin said. "He's using those vulgarities in the context of a campaign rally. And obviously there were a lot of funny moments on that rally."
Todd, however, did not appear to agree.
"Yeah, they were hilarious," the host quipped sarcastically.