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Merle Haggard Weighs in on Donald Trump Campaign

merle haggard donald trump
Stephen Lovekin / Scott Olson, Getty Images

Merle Haggard has always had strong opinions about social matters, and he’s never been afraid to share them in public. In a new interview, the country music legend takes aim at Donald Trump, the recent frontrunner in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

The 78-year-old singer-songwriter will resume touring on Feb. 2 in Riverside, Calif., 11 weeks after canceling shows and entering the hospital, where he was diagnosed with double pneumonia. He’s been avidly following the news while recuperating, especially Trump’s campaign, which took a surprise beating from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the Iowa primary Monday night (Feb. 1), losing by a margin of 28-24 percent.

“He’s not a politician. I don’t think he understands the way things work in Washington, that’s what worries me about him,” Haggard tells Rolling Stone Country. “I don’t think he realizes he can’t just tell somebody to do something and have it done, you know. I think he’s dealing from a strange deck.”

Haggard’s tour was originally slated to begin Jan. 30 in New Mexico, but he canceled those early shows over concern about his lung capacity and the high elevation. Still, he says he’s more than ready to get back to touring, especially after a close call that made him realize how important it is to him.

“It becomes more precious, I think, as time goes by,” he says, adding that he is also working on a new album with Willie Nelson in response to the success of last year’s Django and Jimmie, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Albums chart.

“We’re having such good luck. Our names together seem to be magic,” he observes. “Our first show together for the tour went on sale in Springfield and sold out in 10 minutes. The records are selling and it’s a hard time to sell records! So we can’t deny the success of it all.”

Haggard says he’s lucky to be alive after his health ordeal.

“I had a double case of pneumonia about the size of grapefruit on each side,” he reveals. “I had a pain that went all the way around from my belly button all the way around to my back. I asked the doctor, ‘What was that pain?’ He said, ‘It was death.'”

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