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Donald Trump made his pitch to Iowa’s Christian conservatives on Tuesday night as he seeks to beat back a challenge from upstart Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the Hawkeye State.
Trump waved around his childhood Bible at a rally in Council Bluffs, claiming it to be his favorite book over his own bestseller, “The Art of the Deal.”
{mosads}“I even brought my Bible — the evangelicals, OK?” Trump said as the rally opened. “We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well. This Bible was given to me by my mother, going to Sunday school. … So, we love the Bible. It’s the best. We love ‘The Art of the Deal,’ but the Bible is far, far superior, yes.”
With just over a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, Cruz has rallied the support of many influential Christian conservatives in Iowa, who have helped propel him to a lead over Trump in many polls in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Trump on Tuesday touted his own strength in Iowa, pointing to polls that still show him in the lead in the Hawkeye State and claiming that he still has the backing of “many pastors” there.
“I really want to win Iowa — and again, the evangelicals, the Tea Party — we’re doing unbelievably, and I think I’m going to win Iowa,” Trump said. “That last couple of weeks, I’m going to be here so much you’re going to be sick of me.”
The rally was relatively subdued by Trump standards, and other than a few broadsides directed at President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush and the press, Trump largely left his rivals alone.
Trump took one shot at Cruz, whose parents are Cuban, but didn’t mention him by name.
“I love the people of Iowa,” Trump said. “I have the same values they have. Just remember this. In all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba. Just remember that.”
The rally was dominated by Trump boasting about his polling numbers. He read the results from every online survey that said he won the last GOP presidential debate and ticked through many of the national and early-voting state polls that show him in the lead.
Trump insisted he’s playing to win, noting that the smart play for him would be to temper expectations in Iowa but saying he can’t bring himself to do so.
“It’d be very easy for me to say if I got second, I’d be very happy,” Trump said. “I don’t want to say that I want to win Iowa, but I really want to win Iowa.”
Trump said that if he ultimately doesn’t take the White House, that his entire campaign will have been a waste of time.
“Unless we win, I couldn’t care less. It’s really true,” Trump said.
“If I don’t win, I would never have done it again because it would have been a waste of time,” he continued. “To me it would have been a big fat, beautiful waste of time, and I really mean that.”
Still, Trump made some time for his trademark insults, starting with Clinton, although he steered clear of the attacks he’s been levying at the Democratic front-runner over the last few days involving former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities.
Instead, Trump merely insisted that Clinton would be a terrible negotiator.
“Listen, listen, Madam President — can you imagine?” Trump said. “Believe me, women. If it’s got to be a woman, which I’m all in favor of some day, it shouldn’t be Hillary. It shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.”
He mocked Obama for spending more time on the golf course “than people on the PGA tour,” called Sanders a “communist” and needled Bush and his allies for spending tens of millions of dollars in campaign ads while remaining mired in single-digit polling.
But Trump saved the bulk of his fire for the press, pointing to the back of the crowd — as he does at every rally — toward the bullpen where the press stays.
“Look at all of them,” Trump said pointing to the back.
He accused the media of hiding his polling numbers, failing to report on the sizes of his crowds and seeking to gin up anger against him.
“When phony reporters write phony stuff, it helps my polls go up … because I’m telling the truth,” Trump said. “Sometimes when you tell the truth, you’re hurting yourself politically, but I have to tell the truth.”
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