NEW YORK — In a television interview Sunday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he wanted to take a close look at a proposal to allow delegates to bring guns into the Republican convention in July.
On ABC’s “This Week,’’ Trump declined to take an immediate position on an online petition to allow guns, but he said delegates at the high-security event risk being “sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers and criminals.”
Trump said he had not yet seen the petition, which is aimed at candidates like himself, and that he would have to review it before commenting, although he noted he was a “very, very strong person for the Second Amendment.”
The anonymous petition on the website Change.org had collected more than 33,000 signatures by Sunday.
The petition notes that Ohio is an open-carry state, but that the website for the Quicken Loans Arena, site of the convention, states that the arena forbids “firearms and other weapons of any kind.”
“This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk,” the petition reads. “As the National Rifle Association has made clear, ‘gun-free zones’ such as the Quicken Loans Arena are ‘the worst and most dangerous of all lies.’’
The petition calls on Republican candidate John Kasich to use executive authority as governor of Ohio to override the gun-free zone at the convention site. It asks the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, to offer “an explanation of how a venue so unfriendly to Second Amendment rights was chosen for the Republican Convention.”
Petitioners are also looking for a contingency plan for an alternate location from the RNC should guns not be allowed in the Quicken Loans Arena.
Trump was also asked in the Sunday interview if he would rule out internment camps for US Muslims — an idea he has never proposed, though he has argued for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country if they are not American citizens.
“I would rule it out, but we would have to be very vigilant,” Trump said. “If we’re not very, very strong and very, very smart, we have a big, big problem coming up. We’ve already had the problem. Check out the World Trade Center, check out the Pentagon. We’ve already had the problem.”
Trump also traded insults Sunday with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas over recent smears against their wives.
The two candidates showed no desire to tone down or back off their exchange of harsh personal attacks, which have played out over the past week against a backdrop of terrorist attacks in Brussels and President Obama’s trip to Cuba.
Trump categorically denied that he or anyone from his campaign played a role in a National Enquirer report Friday suggesting that Cruz may have had extra-marital affairs. The report by the magazine came after Trump threatened to “spill the beans on” Cruz’s wife, Heidi, a cryptic remark that Trump elevated Sunday into a dark insinuation.
“There are things about Heidi that I don’t want to talk about,” Trump said. “You could look, but I don’t want to talk about them.”
Cruz, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” repeated his contention that his rival’s fingerprints were on the report because it included a comment from a former Trump political adviser, Roger Stone, and because Trump is friends with the owner of the Enquirer.
He called the report “garbage” and said it was “disgusting to see a candidate attacking the spouse of another” — while at the same time denying that he had anything to do with a mailing by a super PAC featuring a mostly unclothed Melania Trump, Trump’s wife and a former model, that circulated in Utah before Tuesday’s primary there.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Cruz said Trump had a habit of turning to personal attacks “when he gets scared, particularly on foreign policy,” and said he was doing so now because he was “out of his depth” with recent comments like suggesting that the United States pull back from NATO unless other nations pay more of the alliance’s costs.
Trump repeated that view on Sunday and called NATO “obsolete” in the fight against terrorism.
The warfare over spouses represents an attempt by Trump to get under Cruz’s skin, just like he did, effectively, with former rivals like Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.
Trump also continues to use social media like Twitter to focus the race on personality and language rather than policy.
He denied disparaging Heidi Cruz by posting an unflattering photo of her on his Twitter page by noting that it was simply a retweet of another user’s post.
He added that he would not use Twitter “very much as president” compared with his current tendency to send flurries of late-night tweets.
Kasich, who is running far behind his rivals in the race for the party’s nomination, expressed new hesitancy on Sunday to support Trump if he becomes the nominee.
“We’re going to look at it every single day, and we’ll see what happens,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve got a long way to go. I don’t want to project that he’s going to be the nominee. I don’t think he will be. And if he is — we’ll have to, I will review it every day.”
Pushed by moderator Chuck Todd on whether he would back Trump, Kasich said, “I said what I said, Chuck, and I’m done talking about this subject.”