In a 45-minute speech in South Carolina on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched on nearly every major political issue in the United States. He slammed immigration, Common Core and the Iran negotiations. He criticized the treatment of veterans, gun-free zones and the deal that freed Afghanistan prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. He repeatedly mentioned how much money he had, how the media twists his words and how he thinks Sen. Lindsey Graham is a "stiff." Trump's words delivered at a retirement community seemed to focus on nothing in particular and everything at the same time.
Trump was visiting the Sun City Hilton Head in Bluffton, South Carolina, which is between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. His event, billed as a campaign kickoff rally, drew a full house.
He started by addressing his critics, some of whom were protesting outside. Members of the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition gathered for a silent demonstration against Trump's previous comments about Mexican immigrants, who he said bring problems including drugs and crime into the U.S. The statement was immediately controversial when he made it last month, but on Tuesday Trump tried to clarify that his opposition actually stemmed from a lack of border security.
"I want people to come into the country, but they have to do it through the legal process," Trump said, adding that since his campaign announcement people have told him he's right. One way to solve the influx of immigrants into the U.S., he suggested, is to build a wall along the border -- one that Mexico would pay for if "the right guy" negotiated with them.
— Jason Tighe (@jtighe08) July 21, 2015
Next he took down Graham, the South Carolina Republican who called out Trump this week after Trump expressed another divisive opinion: that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was not a war hero for the time he spent in captivity in Vietnam. Graham told CNN Monday that Trump was a "jackass" for saying that, and Trump fired back in his speech. "What a stiff, what a stiff, Lindsey Graham. By the way, he has registered zero in the polls,” Trump said, according to Time. “A total lightweight."
Later in the speech, Trump recounted a time when Graham asked Trump to drop his name to the producers of the TV show "Fox & Friends." Then he read Graham's cell phone number aloud from a message pad.
— TMZ (@TMZ) July 21, 2015
Trump went on to insult presidential contenders Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton as well. Bush, he said, was "in favor of Common Core and weak on immigration." Then Trump asked the crowd who they'd rather see negotiating trade with China -- "Trump or Jeb? Or Trump or Hillary?" For the record, Trump said, "China loves me."
The real estate mogul made it clear he wasn't happy with the current administration, either. He promised to fix the abuses and problems with Medicare and Medicaid, plus fix Social Security. He said he would take back American jobs from countries abroad and improve how veterans were being treated. He said he wanted to protect the Second Amendment in light of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy officer in gun-free zones.
Trump also took aim at the recently announced Iran nuclear deal, taking particular issue with a provision that would give the nation 24 days' notice before inspections. Trump said the Iranians "killed us" in negotiations.
"I would have made one hell of a deal," Trump said, going on to say that he would have asked for Iran-held American prisoners to be released. On that subject, he also railed against President Barack Obama's decision to swap five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl's freedom last June.
— Ashleigh Holland (@AshleighWSAV) July 21, 2015
If there was a theme to his speech, it was that Trump isn't like other candidates. He made frequent references to his wealth -- "People are sending me money ... please don't bother, I don't need any" -- and how it frees him from having to make political deals. His recent, heavily debated comments may be evidence of this.
"When people come up to me and they say, Mr. Trump, I'd like you to do this ... I say, sorry, folks, I'm only doing the right thing," he added Tuesday.