The target on Donald Trump’s back is getting bigger as the first presidential votes near. And the Republican front-runner said Monday at the Macon Coliseum that he is ready to fire back should his GOP contenders intensify their attacks.
“If somebody hits me, I’m going to hit them so hard. We’re going to hit them 10 times harder,” he said, adding: “There’s only one way to get to the top. And it’s all through Trump. Let’s face it.”
“When people come after me,” he said later, “they go down the tubes.”
The billionaire developer continues to confound his Republican rivals – and frustrate the upper reaches of the GOP’s establishment – with his stubborn support in nationwide polls and surveys of the early-voting states.
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And he still attracts bigger crowds than other contenders, a magnetic appeal on display again Monday when more than 6,000 people crammed into the Macon Coliseum to hear him speak. (Several hundred, we should note, headed for the doors before he finished talking.)
Trump gave his typical bombastic performance, mocking his GOP opponents as weak-kneed, slamming Democrats as do-nothing liberals and berating the media for criticizing him.
He reserved his kindest words for himself. Trump described himself “brilliant” several times, boasted of the “great” companies he’s formed and trumpeted the ratings of his “Apprentice” reality TV show.
A chunk of Trump’s speech was spent musing over whether he should demand that CNN donate $5 million to the Wounded Warriors charity if the Atlanta-based network wants him to participate in the debate it is hosting in Las Vegas on Dec. 15.
“They’ll say Trump is chicken,” he said, adding: “But one thing I’m not is chicken.”
He mocked some of his lesser-known rivals – he called Ohio Gov. John Kasich a “nothing” who doesn’t deserve to be on the debate stage – and said the nation needed a latter-day Gen. George S. Patton to defeat the Islamic State.
“We don’t want talkers,” he said. “We want doers.”
Turning his attention to his Democratic rivals, he pledged to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s “terrible” signature health care law. And he said Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton didn’t have the mettle to tackle the nation’s biggest problems.
“I’d rather run against her. She has done such a lousy job. You know what her legacy is going to be? The greatest job that she has ever done is getting out of the email scandal, assuming that ever happens,” he said of Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.
“That will be her greatest achievement.”