LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE says that once elected president he will review the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, indicating the “traitor” should be executed.
“If I get in, we will review his case,” Trump told a cheering crowd of at least 2,000 in Las Vegas’s Westgate Hotel the night before the Republican debate.
Holding his arms in the shape of a rifle, Trump asked, “Fifty years ago, what would’ve happened [to Bergdahl]?
“Boom,” he said, mock firing the gun.
The Trump Las Vegas rally, coming only a few hours after an event down the road for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Fla.), underscored the vast differences between the campaigns of the Republican establishment favorite and the bombastic billionaire outsider who is leading in national polls.
There was no security at the Rubio event, which involved about 200 people in a ballroom at a smaller hotel, while Trump's event had more than 10 times the audience and security checkpoints that resembled an airport terminal.
The Rubio audience stood politely for the candidate’s speech, laughing at the appropriate moments, clapping at the applause lines, and jeering good naturedly when Rubio mentioned President Obama or leading Democratic Party candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE.
But the Trump event was bigger, rowdier, with at least six rounds of protesters kicked out, some dragged to the ground and others shouting at Trump and raising their middle fingers while being hauled out by security. The crowd arrived two hours before Trump spoke and went through several chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump" before he even took the stage. Trump staff was stationed outside the hall, registering voters for the Nevada caucuses.
Walking out under blue and white stage lights while Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” blared, Trump was greeted with the crowd shaking fists in the air and holding up their iPhones to film him.
His speech was frequently interrupted with chants of “I love you, Trump!"
Trump said little about his debate competitors, but he predicted that his rivals would pile on the attacks, and he suggested they would backfire. He pointed out that “so far everyone that’s attacked me has gone right down to 2 [percentage points in the polls].”
The Trump crowd booed loudly when he mentioned Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant More than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State MORE (R-Texas), who’s risen to second place in the polls.
The real estate magnate has been intensifying attacks on Cruz in recent days, describing him as a “maniac” and saying he did not have the temperament to get anything done with Congress. This followed leaked audio of Cruz telling New York donors that questions would be raised about whether Trump or the other outsider candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, possessed the judgment to have their fingers on the nuclear trigger. Cruz has embraced Trump in public in the hope of winning over the billionaire’s supporters, but that leaked audio was all the excuse Trump needed to shatter the goodwill.
Trump did not hit Cruz directly on Monday night, saying he liked the Texan.
In a typically freewheeling speech, Trump impersonated Clinton talking from a teleprompter; insisted he had been proven correct on his claim — widely disputed — that thousands of Muslims were cheering and dancing in the streets of New Jersey when the twin towers fell on 9/11; and accused the respected Des Moines Register poll that shows Cruz leading him by 10 points in Iowa of distorting its numbers out of malice.
But Trump got the loudest response when he mentioned Islamic terrorism and the need to stop Muslim migration and shut the borders.
Discussing the recent San Bernardino, Calif. murders, Trump claimed that the U.S. government wants “to send the bodies back.”
“Unbelievable. How stupid are we? How crazy are we?” Trump asked.
“Burn them!” shouted an elderly man.
The Trump supporters around him laughed and clapped.