Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tonight said his supporters are the “noisy majority” and the GOP establishment won’t be able to derail his candidacy if he starts rolling in 2016 with a victory in Iowa’s lead-off Caucuses.
“So it’s very important for me to win Iowa,” Trump said during a campaign event in the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “Now, I could put less pressure on myself and say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about Iowa,’ but I do care. I do care so much about it. That’s why I’m here all the time.”
The crowd started filtering in at 4 p.m., but Trump didn’t take the stage until three hours later. A few members of Trump’s campaign team warmed up the crowd as it waited, offering stocking caps with Trump’s campaign logo to people in the audience who signed up to Caucus for Trump on February 1.
Tamara Scott, one of the Iowa Republican Party’s representatives on the Republican National Committee, was among those called upon to ask Trump a question and Trump called her up on stage with him to repeat it.
“Why would they not be thrilled?” Scott asked, in reference to reports that the GOP’s establishment is worried about his candidacy. “The numbers you have, the crowds you have, the message you’re brining — you’re reviving the heart of America. This is what we want.”
Trump said he’d been in the party’s “establishment” until six months ago, as he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the party and to past nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney.
“If we win like I think we’re going to win — because we have such a great lead — honestly, it’s not going to matter,” Trump said of the establishment’s sentiments. “They can’t do anything. I don’t care about the establishment.”
And Trump said if he wins Iowa’s Caucuses, he’ll be able to “run the table” in the following contests and secure enough delegates to avoid a nomination fight at the Republican National Convention.
A man in the crowd asked Trump if he would consider rival Ted Cruz as a running mate or perhaps appoint Cruz to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump called Cruz “a nice guy” who would have a place in a Trump Administration. However, during his opening remarks to the crowd, Trump did bring up Cruz’s opposition to the ethanol mandate.
“The oil companies give him a lot of money, but I’m with you,” Trump said.
Trump, who recounted his recent visit to an ethanol plant near Gowrie, Iowa, said the state’s economy would take a big hit if ethanol production levels plummet.
“If Ted Cruz is against ethanol, how does he win in Iowa? Because that’s very anti-Iowa,” Trump said, to applause. “I don’t know how he wins in Iowa. I don’t know.”
Donna Weese of Des Moines was among the first to arrive tonight to see Trump. She considers him a refreshing alternative to the typical politician.
“He tells the way it is instead of telling people what you want to hear,” Weese said. “What we’re used to is we gloss it over, make it sound good so we get your vote.”
Her husband came to hear the “whole story” from Trump, mot just the “bits and pieces” he gets to hear through the news media. Ed Weese, who said he wants a Trump sign for his front yard, is hoping Trump doesn’t leave the GOP and run as an independent.
“Then there’s going to be a split in the party and Hillary’s probably going to get in,” Weese said.
But Jason Curl of Melbourne — a registered Republican for nearly 16 years — is ready to follow Trump right out of the GOP.
“I’m very upset with the party and they have marginalized me,” he said. “George Bush called me a racist when I opposed amnesty…It’s been kind of an abusive relationship with the Republican Party and I’m kind of done with it. I think this is the right guy at the right time.”
Cindy Blohm of Des Moines was a precinct captain for Ron Paul in 2012 and she thinks the party insiders need to “stop playing the political correctness game” and get behind Trump.
“I’m extremely concerned about a brokered convention and I’m thinking if they do that, it’s going to destroy the GOP because us, as Republicans, we’re tired of it,” Blohm said. “We want to be able to vote for who we want as a candidate and we feel like that would be them trying to take that away from us.”
Cody Younkin of Marengo is an independent voter who’s skeptical of politicians, but he’s evaluating Trump.
“The points that he makes are valid, but the way that he says them kind of discredits himself,” he said. “I’m trying to see if I can just actually believe what’s being said.”
Trump was asked questions about Syrian refugees, gun rights, Social Security and Medicare and the economy. He did not bring up nor was Trump asked about his call to forbid Muslims entry into the U.S. until federal officials can ensure terrorists aren’t abusing the Visa system to infiltrate the country.