Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump called the press "crooked" and "so dishonest" Monday on Fox News for reporting that he had hesitations about his running mate pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence was "my first choice" and "my only choice," Trump said.
The news that Trump had selected Pence leaked Thursday, and the original plan was for the two to appear at a rally on Friday. That was postponed in the wake of the Nice, France, terrorist attack, although Trump tweeted Friday morning that Pence was his selection, and they made their first joint appearance on Saturday.
However, CNN's Dana Bash reported Friday that he was so distraught over the Pence pick that he'd spent the night on the phone with top aides looking for a way out.
"You talk about crooked," Trump said on Fox & Friends. "The media is so distorted and so false … It was absolutely my first choice, and I delayed one day because of the horrible tragedy that just took place … It would have been so inappropriate, and what happened is I delayed it a day for that. All of a sudden, they said because I delayed it for the tragedy, they said maybe he's having second thoughts."
The New York Times also characterized Trump as highly hesitant about his decision until the 11th hour:
Donald J. Trump raged at the leaked reports of his plan to choose Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate. In public, he denied having made a "final, final decision," and postponed a planned event to unveil his choice. In a Thursday evening phone call with top aides, he asked for reassurance that Mr. Pence was really right for the job.
In conversations late into the evening, Mr. Trump repeatedly hesitated over selecting Mr. Pence, according to people briefed on the tense deliberations, who insisted on anonymity to describe the confidential talks. Even as his emissaries reassured Mr. Pence, Mr. Trump fielded a last-ditch appeal from Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, another finalist, who once again pressed his own case.
Advisers and family members stressed over and over to Mr. Trump that he was selecting a running mate to unite the Republican Party, not a new best friend.
Trump said his team told the press such a characterization was a "total lie."
"It was such a lie," he said. "When you told them it was a lie, it didn't matter, because they kept it going … I'll tell you what. The media is so dishonest, it's incredible. Just incredible."
He said he didn't even know about the leak of his Pence pick to the Indianapolis Star, Pence's home state's capital newspaper.
"I didn't know anything leaked to the Indianapolis Star. I didn't read the Indianapolis Star," he said. "It's not really high on my list, to be honest with you."