U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump expressed confidence that he could push back attempts by his rivals to knock him off his top perch, saying he could stand in New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
SIOUX CENTER, IOWA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 23, 2016) (NBC) – U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump expressed confidence on Saturday (January 23) that he could push back attempts by his rivals to knock him off his top perch, saying he could stand in New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief obstacle to a victory in Iowa’s Feb. 1 caucuses, held competing rallies across the state while in New Hampshire, other candidates battled for votes in that state’s Feb. 9 first-in-the-nation primary.
Trump, the New York billionaire and former reality TV star who has been virtually impervious to attacks from his opponents, pushed the limits of his political rhetoric again in Sioux Center, Iowa.
He pointed his finger at the crowd like he was shooting a handgun and said: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Cruz picked up the endorsement of conservative firebrand Glenn Beck, a counterweight of sorts to Trump’s endorsement by 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Beck quickly went on the attack during a 45-minute speech at the Cruz event in Ankeny.
Trump has been a difficult target for criticism from his rivals because not all of his supporters are conservatives and many are most interested in his projection of strength, not where he stands on a particular issue.
The latest Reuters-Ipsos tracking poll had Trump pulling in 40.6 percent support of Republican voters nationally. A CNN/ORC poll has Trump up in Iowa with 37 percent to 26 percent for Cruz, who has led in some other Iowa polls.