Blunt, self-confident and, at times, profane, Donald Trump told hundreds of people at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on Saturday he will make the United States “greater than it’s ever been before.”
The Republican presidential hopeful promised an unparalleled military, a ruthless war on terrorism and trade supremacy, and he said his wall would be a foot taller than the Great Wall of China.
“Trade, don’t worry about, it,” Trump said. “I’ll take care of it.”
"Obamacare — terminated.”
At one point, he said: “On illegal immigration, I’m the king.”
With rock music blaring before and after his appearance, Trump spoke for about an hour, criticizing his political rivals, Republican and Democrat alike, for what he said was their low energy, low poll numbers and low intelligence.
“We’re taking our country back,” he said at the beginning of the rally. “We’re going to get rid of the stupid people.”
Trump is leading in the national polls and in Iowa. And the crowd that he drew here Saturday, which was estimated at 1,700 people by Bob Fox, general manager of the fairgrounds, was the biggest of a Republican candidate in Scott County so far this election cycle.
The rally in Davenport came about the same time that five of his GOP rivals were attending a similarly attended event in Cedar Rapids sponsored by Rep. Rod Blum and the group FreedomWorks.
Trump was interrupted frequently by applause, such as when he promised to be tough on terrorists.
“I’ll tell you what, folks, we’re going to be so vigilant, we’re going to be so careful, we’re going to be so tough, and so mean,” he said, as cheers rose. “That (expletive) is not going to happen."
Dale Rankin of Davenport said he hasn’t gone to the caucuses, but he plans to next February — to make sure Trump is elected.
“Look at the country,” Rankin said. “It’s in bad shape.”
Of Trump, he said: “He’s a man of his word, I think. He’s a successful businessman, for one. He’s not a lying politician.”
Trump supporters across the country have praised his blunt approach, even as his critics say he has made racist and bigoted remarks and offered few concrete ideas. Several people at the rally in Davenport praised him for swearing off what they called political correctness.
"Honest, funny, sarcastic,” said Jo Ellen Seibel of Davenport. "All the things that I like. Just tells people how it is."
Tim DeJonghe, who called himself a moderate Democrat, said “he is ticking off a lot of people,” Yet, he said Trump is straightforward. “That’s refreshing,” the Moline man said.
Outside the rally, about a dozen people protested. Dave Patterson, a spokesman for AFSCME Iowa Council 61, said Trump’s economic ideas wouldn’t help working people.
“Iowa and America need a candidate who will work hard for every American, not just the rich and powerful,” he said.
Trump’s appearance was his second of the day in Iowa. Earlier, he was in Spencer, in northwest Iowa.
Trump said here that he would take a no-holds barred approach to the Islamic State. And while he called Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad a “bad guy,” Trump noted the Iraq War deposed Saddam Hussein, who he said “used to take real pleasure in killing terrorists.”
Now, Iraq is different.
“Now, it’s the Harvard University of terrorism,” Trump said.
Trump also made a pitch for Iowans to vote for him in the Feb. 1 precinct caucuses. He said others have tried to upend Iowa’s leadoff spot in the nominating process, but he promised it wouldn’t change.
“Iowa will never be touched,” he said. "You are sacred."