Appearing before an exuberant and supportive crowd in Las Vegas, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump gave a speech of more than an hour in length where he touched upon a laundry list of issues, including immigration, veterans’ affairs, and defense, but also on the relative merits of the other Republicans presidential hopefuls. Trump appeared comfortable addressing more than 1,200 supporters who applauded spontaneously throughout the appearance.
Speaking about the candidates, Trump recalled that he once called former Florida governor “nice guy” Jeb Bush a “low-energy” candidate and that the label has stuck. “When I think of a president,” said Trump, “I think of someone with tremendous drive, tremendous energy,” and, while pointing to his head, he added, “really, up here, big league.”
As for Sen. Marco Rubio, Trump repeated that he had called his fellow Republican a “lightweight” and recalled the senator’s infamously sweaty performance in his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address of 2013.
Trump also spoke about criticisms that have been lobbed at him from other Republican candidates, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Scott Walker, and Carly Fiorina, he was equally dismissive.
“Ben, I like. But Ben said something very nasty to me. I do, I like him. He said something really nasty, remember, about my faith. I'm a religious person. I'm Protestant. Can you believe it? I'm Protestant. I'm Presbyterian. I'm religious. And Ben hit me on my faith, and I was all set to go after him, and then he took it back." Continuing, Trump said "I was all set. I was disappointed that he took it back. I didn't want him to take it back." Speaking to an audience member, Trump said with emotion "Bill, I didn't him to take it back. I was all set to go."
"And I couldn't do it because he stood up and said 'No, the press tricked me into saying something that I didn't mean, and I'm taking it back. I said 'Cool, that's really nice.' Please say something bad about me, Ben, please.”
Trump said he then defended Carson for statements the former surgeon made about the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that some gun control advocates criticized. Trump said “Yesterday, I stuck up for him because the press killed him. The press was saying that - he made a statement, essentially - that some maniac was over there shooting people that he’d charge. They said ‘That’s terrible. That’s disrespectful to the people who were killed,’ and I didn’t see it that way.”
Religious affiliation of all GOP candidates:
Jeb Bush: Catholic
Ben Carson: Seventh Day Adventist
Chris Christie: Catholic
Ted Cruz: Southern Baptist
Carly Fiorina: Grew up Episcopalian
Jim Gilmore: Methodist
Lindsey Graham: Southern Baptist
Mike Huckabee: Southern Baptist
Bobby Jindal: Catholic
John Kasich: Anglican Church in North America (conservative splinter group of the Episcopal Church - grew up Catholic)