Donald Trump, who is ahead or tied for the lead in three recent polls tracking GOP presidential candidates, had a very busy weekend. At campaign events Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona, Trump delivered separate but equally rambling speeches that touched upon everything from legitimate national issues to Trump’s self-assessed intelligence to a joke about ISIS trying to compete with him by building a hotel in Iraq. Said Trump, who seemed to be improvising the speeches, “You know I don’t use TelePrompTers like the president — I speak from the heart.”
During the two speeches, Trump apologized for nothing, named many names, explored in painful detail the reasons his television contracts were being canceled, and tried to thread the needle between painting Mexico as both a great, smart nation that he loves and one he says is also sending rapists and criminals over the border “like water” in a “sophisticated manner.” Indeed, Trump seemed much more amused than chastened by the criticism he’s received recently (and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus’s friendly request that he tone down his immigration rhetoric). Instead, Trump turned his tone up to 11. Earlier today on CNN’s State of the Union, fellow Republican candidate Lindsey Graham said he thought Trump was hijacking the campaign and that he was “a wrecking ball” for the party. If that’s true, Trump seems like the happiest wrecking ball on the planet.
“The silent majority is back, and we’re going to take the country back,” Trump announced before walking off the stage in Phoenix to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” though he later admitted to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa that he didn’t realize he was reusing President Nixon’s term for the Americans who secretly supported the extremely unpopular Vietnam War.
Here are some key things we learned this weekend from the mind and mouth of the one-and-only Trump:
On Undocumented Immigration
Trump didn’t really break any new ground on this topic considering his previous comments on the matter, though at both appearances he had Jamiel Shaw, the father of a teenager killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2008, speak to the crowd. In a subsequent interview published Sunday, Trump implied that bringing up immigration at the beginning of his campaign wasn’t even his idea: “They gave it to me. It wasn’t a big part of my announcement speech — a small paragraph.”
In addition to again repeating his insistence that Mexico is shipping its criminals, rapists, and murderers into America, Trump also declared, “I love the Mexican people,” and “I respect Mexico greatly as a country. But the problem we have is their leaders are much sharper than ours, and they’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on trade.”
Trump also tried to make a historical comparison, noting, “[Former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro, many years ago, opened up his prisons and sent his prisoners to the United States,” which the candidate called a disaster for the America, before adding, “In a much more sophisticated manner, Mexico is [now] doing the same thing.”
According to Trump, Mexico calls the shots at Univision as well, which explains why the network canceled their business arrangements with him.
On the Amount the Mexican Government Should Be Charged for Each Undocumented Immigrant That Crosses the U.S. Border
$100,000 (Trump claims the policy solution just came to him.)
On Jeb Bush
Of all other Republicans, Trump went after Bush the most, wondering, “How can I be tied [in the polls] with this guy, he’s terrible! Terrible. He’s weak on immigration.” Trump also let out an “oy, yoy, yoy” when he imagined Bush as president, before lambasting Jeb as indecisive, weak on trade, beholden to special interests and donors, and “a piece of candy” that lobbyists can push around.
On Hillary Clinton
“Hillary Clinton is going to be a horrible president. Horrible. If she even wins her own primary,” Trump remarked. He also said she was the “worst secretary of State in the history of our country,” and asked the crowd, “Who would you rather have negotiating a deal, a trade deal, with anybody — Trump or Hillary?”
On Not Being Liked
“A lot of people don’t like me. What difference does it make? This is about competence.”
On Russian President Vladimir Putin
“I think we would get along very, very well.”
Number of Times Barack Obama’s Birthplace Was Disputed
Once, by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who introduced Trump in Phoenix.
On the Origins of Immigration Protesters
Trump suggested they had been paid for by the Mexican government, particularly because they looked too good, like they had “come out of central casting.” He told the crowd, “Don’t worry, we’ll take our country back.”
Trump declared,“ISIS, believe me, they will be in such trouble.” He also promised, “I would take them out so fast … Have to do it.” Trump, who owns several hotels, also pointed out, “ISIS is building a hotel in Iraq. They’re competing with me!”
On Personal Wealth
Trump indicated he will fully disclose his finances this coming week, and bragged, “I don’t need money. I don’t want money … You’ll see that on the day I file. You’ll see I did really well.”
“If you really love this country, you have a very, very hard time convincing people that what you’re doing is right and that you’re really smart. And like, a lot of us are really smart. I’m really smart. I went to the Wharton School of Finance, even then, a long time ago, like, the hardest, or one of the hardest schools to get into. [I] did well at the school, came out, made a fortune, wrote a book called The Art of the Deal … They say the No. 1 selling business book of all time. Which I agree … ”
Trump focused on China a lot in his comments, mainly regarding how much better he would be at negotiating trade deals with them than anyone else. He claimed, “They have geniuses and we have people who don’t have a clue. We have stupid leaders.” He also pointed out that a Chinese bank is a very good tenant of his, and they told him they wouldn’t rent from anyone but him.
On Having His Necktie Brand Dropped by Macy’s
“It’s not a big deal, I’m selling ties. And you know what, honestly, they were made in China, so I didn’t care that much. I was like, ‘Screw it,’” Trump said. He also added that Macy’s was the real loser, because now “thousands and thousands of people are cutting up their Macy’s credit cards.”
On Legal Immigration
“I love legal immigration. I love it,” he said, before noting his wife is a legal immigrant. Trump added, “We should make it easier, and faster.”
On Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders
Trump told the less than 5,000 supporters at his Phoenix event, “This crowd today blows away anything that Bernie Sanders has had. That I can tell you.” Sanders recently spoke before a crowd of 10,000 in Madison, Wisconsin.
On the Tea Party
“Nobody knows the power of the tea party. I only say that because the tea party loves me.”
His Response to a Crowd Member Shouting, “Remember Benghazi!”
“You’re right, Benghazi.”
“I know the greatest negotiators in the world. Some are horrible people, horrible human beings; who cares?”
Countries That Have Better Negotiators Than the U.S.
Mexico, China, Japan, Iran
On the Pending Nuclear Deal With Iran
On John Kerry
“Our chief negotiator [with Iran], at 73, is in a bicycle race [and] he falls and breaks his leg. This is the mentality we have.”
His Least Favorite Kennedy
Caroline (Also a bad negotiator, in Trump’s book.)
On the Military
“I am more for the military … I am the most militaristic person in this room. I would have a military that is so strong that we would never have to use it. Because people would say, ‘No way we’re messing with them, no way we’re messing with them.’ And I’d get along with Putin, and I’d get along with China.”
Trump said that Iraqis have no love for their country and that Iraq’s leadership are “all thieves” and “terrible people.” He also declared, though he says he opposed the invasion of Iraq, that he thinks the U.S. should have stayed in the country and kept its oil so Iran and ISIS couldn’t have it.
“The press are liars. They’re terrible people … Not all of them, but many of them.” Trump also bragged that he knows how to get past the media: “I have millions of people on Facebook and Twitter,” which he likened to “owning the New York Times without the losses.”
On Campaign Finance
The candidate surmised, “Every single person who gave Jeb Bush and Hillary money has something lined up, and it’s not necessarily and probably not at all to the benefit of [the American people]. Special interests, lobbyists, donors, they all get something.” Trump also said, “I know the system better than anybody. I’m a donor.”