Donald Trump’s backers are numerous and passionate. And their passion means a lot to the U.S. presidential candidate, who speculated Saturday he could even “shoot somebody” and still be the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination.
The billionaire businessman bragged about the fans who have propelled him to the No. 1 spot in the GOP polls while speaking at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa. The Washington Post reported Trump emphasized the point that his supporters were fiercely loyal. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said, mentioning a busy street in New York. “It’s, like, incredible.”
About 1,500 people reportedly attended Trump’s rally at Dordt College in Iowa, which will conduct its caucuses in a little more than a week. The candidate’s comments immediately made headlines, but people at the rally told CBS News they weren’t concerned about them.
Frank Martinez said Trump was speaking figuratively. “It is not the fact that he wants to shoot anybody, and I hope that’s not the way it is going to be changed or edited,” Martinez said. “But what he is saying is basically he is very confident in where he lives.”
Trump continued to lead the pack of Republican presidential candidates this week with 37.4 percent support nationally, according to the HuffPost Pollster average of opinion polls. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was in the No. 2 spot, 20 percentage points behind Trump. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and retired Dr. Ben Carson were in third and fourth place, respectively.
CNN noted Saturday did not mark the first time Trump had joked about violence during his campaign: In December, Trump declared he wouldn’t murder any reporters, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly done, before raising his voice as if he were changing his mind. He concluded the apparent bit by seeming to decide, “No, I would never kill them.”