Trump in Iowa: ‘People Want Strength’

This article first appeared in Politico:

DAVENPORT, IA. — Donald Trump has a theory: The worse things get, the better he does.

Devoting much of his speech to dangers lurking in the world, the businessman suggested at a rally here Saturday that recent turmoil including terrorist attacks in Paris and a mass shooting in California only fuel his political success.

“Every time things gets worse, I do better. Because people have confidence in me,” he told a crowd of about 2,500 people, according to a Secret Service agent’s estimate, inside an event space at the Mississippi Valley Fairground.

The 2016 poll leader pointed out that his support has only grown since terrorist attacks in Paris last month and mocked those who predicted it would slip. “People want strength,” he said.

Political observers had predicted that the terror attacks by ISIL in Paris would bring a new sense of seriousness to the Republican primary and hurt political neophytes Trump and Ben Carson. But even as Carson has faded after struggling to talk about security and foreign policy, Trump has gone up in national polls, with a CNN/ORC national survey of registered voters showing 36 percent support for Trump. Carson’s support fell 8 points from an October CNN poll to 14 percent, putting him in third place behind Ted Cruz.

Touching on the raw economic deal he says the United States is getting with Japan, Trump quickly pivoted from the East Asian nation to terrorism. “When they attacked Pearl Harbor at least they attacked the military,” said Trump, who spoke with an increasing hoarseness in his voice that he has attributed to laryngitis. “It was a sneak attack. It was disgusting, but at least they attacked the military.”

Invoking recent terrorist attacks targeting civilians, Trump declared, “That sh-t is not going to happen any more.” The proclamation prompted loud cheering and scattered chants of “Trump!”

“We’re going to be so vigilant. We’re going to be so careful. We’re going to be so tough and so mean and so nasty,” he said. He returned to the same theme later in the rally, telling attendees how the American people ought to respond to threats in the world: “We’ve got to be vigilant. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to be tough.

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