Tony Abbott has described some of Donald Trump’s policies as “classic conservatism” while calling others “over the top” after garnering criticism for seemingly giving support to the Republican presidential candidate.
The former Australian prime minister urged “Trump haters” not to get “too excited” over his comments after he told Paul Murray on Sky News that the vast majority of Trump supporters were not deplorables.
“[They are] decent people who want to see change inside their country and that’s fair enough,” he said on Thursday night.
“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough, and there will be tens if not hundreds of millions of Americans who will continue to support some of those positions.”
Since tapes surfaced of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, which he later denied, several alleged victims have come forward. The accusations include claims from beauty pageant contestants that Trump burst into their dressing rooms while they were naked.
Taking to Twitter on Friday morning, Abbott sought to head off the inevitable reaction to his comments, but instead prompted further rebuke.
“Before the Trump haters get too excited, some of his views are OTT but cutting tax and boosting defence are classic conservatism,” he wrote.
He invited people to watch the full interview for themselves.
During the interview on Thursday Abbott was asked how he felt about Trump’s recent comments and attitude to women. He responded that the Trump tapes were “gross beyond belief” and “completely indefensible”.
He said he wasn’t in the business of handing out gratuitous advice to the US but there was “no doubt they were absolutely disgusting comments”.
However the New South Wales parliament’s passing of a motion calling Trump a “revolting slug” was posturing and not fitting for a parliament, he said.
Among the responses to Abbott’s tweet were questions about Trump’s alleged treatment of women, and allegations he has paid little to no tax for almost two decades.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, refused to endorse or condemn Abbott’s remarks, or those of cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg who labelled Trump a “dropkick”.
“I’m sure Mr Abbott has carefully read all of Donald Trump’s policies before he made that comment, but I’m not going to buy into the policy debate in the United States,” Turnbull told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Friday.
“As your prime minister, it’s my job to lead this nation and do so – in our engagement with other countries – in a manner that respects their own internal democratic processes, so I’m not going to go any further into engaging into US elections.”
Turnbull has previously described Trump’s comments about women and other issues as “loathsome” and agreed they should be widely condemned.
But he was less forthcoming when asked whether he would carpet Frydenberg or Abbott over their more colourful analyses.
“It’s for others to run these commentaries. I’m the prime minister.”