Trump calls US dumping ground
DALLAS — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday renewed his focus on illegal immigration, calling the United States “a dumping ground for the rest of the world” as he rallied thousands of Texas supporters behind his fiery candidacy and promised Republican leaders he’s just getting started.
Despite calls from Republican officials to tone down his rhetoric on the sensitive issue, the Republican frontrunner decried “anchor babies” and gang members among the immigrants living in the US illegally, drawing huge ovations from a rowdy audience packed into Dallas’s American Airlines Centre.
“Anchor babies” refers to the children of immigrants in the US illegally who are granted automatic citizenship because they were born in the country.
The 20 000-capacity venue was at least three-quarters full for the evening rally.
“You people are suffering,” Trump told the Texans. “I’m in New York, but they’re in New York, too. They’re all over the place.
“It’s disgusting what’s happening to our country,” Trump continued as he called for more legal immigration.
Provocative rhetoric on immigration has defined Trump’s presidential campaign from the very beginning, when the billionaire businessman called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals in his June announcement speech.
Republican National Committee chairperson Reince Priebus, among others, has encouraged Trump to soften his tone, yet the former reality television star and reality TV mogul has refused.
The strategy may play well among the party’s more conservative voters - those who filled the Dallas sports arena among them - yet threatens to hurt the party’s standing among a growing group of Hispanic voters in the general election.
Trump’s popularity within his party has kept growing. He holds a commanding lead in early polls.
“This is a movement that’s happening,” he declared, confronting critics who think he’s not running a serious campaign. “Now it’s time to really start, because this is going to happen, I’m telling you, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Unless I win, it’s been a waste of time for me, folks,” he continued. Monday night’s crowd ate it up. They waved miniature American flags, munched nachos and drank $13 cups of beer from plastic cups as they interrupted Trump repeatedly with applause.
“Sometimes he puts his foot in his mouth, just like everybody,” said Barbara Tomasino, a 65-year-old retired elementary school librarian from Plano, Texas, who donned a dress, shoes and a purse plastered with pictures of Trump’s face.
“If he gets elected, he might need to tone it down a little bit.”
Still, the crowd cheered wildly when Trump bashed immigrants in the country illegally, the media and the energy levels of his rivals.
“I have tremendous energy,” Trump said. “Tremendous. To a point where it’s almost ridiculous if you think about it.”
Meanwhile, a growing divide has emerged in the Republican Party’s unruly presidential contest, as the race bid farewell to a once-powerful contender.
A day after Rick Perry, Texas’ longest-serving governor, ended his second Republican presidential run with a whimper, Trump marked the shake-up by embracing his role as his party’s 2016 bully on Saturday.
“Mr Perry, he’s gone. Good luck. He was very nasty to me,” Trump told Iowa voters on Saturday.
Perry had all but declared war on the billionaire businessman in July, calling Trump “a cancer on conservatism” who could destroy the Republican Party. On Saturday, Trump’s front-running campaign was soaring while Perry’s White House ambitions were dead. And with the real estate mogul leaping ahead of the rest of the packed field, it’s likely a matter of time before he helps push another Republican candidate out of the race.
Perry was a leading voice in the anti-trump movement, a group that has suffered in the polls as Trump’s public allies largely avoid backlash from the anti-establishment wave that made Trump the unlikeliest of Republican presidential front-runners.
“There is no play in the playbook for where we are right now,” said John Jordan, a California winery owner and major Republican fundraiser. “Donors don’t know what to think. Nobody saw the Trump phenomenon coming.”
In still-early polls, the real-estate mogul and reality TV star has more support that the once-top-tier trio of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor. Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio combined. That has left party leaders unnerved, as Trump has made incendiary comments they fear could alienate Hispanics and women.
Bush has jabbed the businessman repeatedly on the campaign trail and through social media. He was at it again Saturday while meeting with supporters in Miami.
“Mr Trump says that I can’t speak Spanish,” Bush told the crowd in Spanish. “Pobrecito [poor guy].”
Walker, another Trump critic, has also struggled recently, particularly in Iowa, the state that kicks off the nominating race next year, where he had been considered a front-runner. The Wisconsin governor cancelled upcoming appearances in California and Michigan to focus instead on the critical early voting Iowa and South Carolina.
On the other end of the spectrum, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, perhaps Trump’s biggest ally, declined to address the Trump effect on Perry’s exit on Saturday.
“I recognise that the media enjoys seeing Republicans bicker back and forth with each other and throw rocks at each other. But I think the American people could not care less,” Cruz told reporters after addressing the same gathering of social conservatives in St Louis that Perry shocked the night before with his announcement.
A favourite of the conservative tea party movement, Cruz has declined to seize on Trump’s positions that would normally trigger conservative ire.
Trump favours tax increases on the rich, once supported abortion rights, gave money to Hillary Rodham Clinton and said kind things about government-run health care in other countries.
“Someone has to bring him down. ... I’m not going to sit quietly by and let the disaster that is Donald Trump become the nominee,” Senrand Paul told The Associated Press. “Do you want someone who appears to still be in grade school to be in charge of the nuclear arsenal?”
Perry’s Republican rivals praised him publicly and privately — and began courting his political network. Cruz on Saturday said Perry did “a remarkable job as governor” and praised him for running “an honourable campaign”.
A person close to the Cruz campaign, who was not authorised to speak publicly and requested anonymity, says the fellow Texan’s camp will be “immediately” reaching out to Perry donors and supporters. “If we don’t jump in, other campaigns are going to try to,” the person said. — AP
Donald Trump addresses supporters in this file picture.