PENSACOLA, FL — Before a capacity crowd of nearly 12,000 at the Pensacola Bay Center on Florida’s panhandle, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump compared President Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, taunted the media, and lampooned his political opponents.
After being introduced by George Scarborough, brother of MSNBC “Morning Joe” host and former congressman Joe Scarborough, Trump walked out to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and immediately took aim at the press. He first took on the cameramen in attendance, much like he had in Biloxi, MS, a week and a half earlier, castigating them for their unwillingness to pan around the facility and show the size of the crowd.
“I only wish the press was honest and they would show you,” Trump said. “They’re not going to show you. They’re the most dishonest people you’ll ever meet – bad people, bad people… really dishonest people.”
The Republican presidential front-runner slammed President Barack Obama for his State of the Union address “where everybody fell asleep” and scoffed at the president’s proclamation that the economy had nearly recovered — saying median incomes are lower now than they were at the start of Obama’s presidency.
In addition to criticizing Obama, Trump reacted to Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R-SC) response to the State of the Union, embracing her criticism of him earlier in the day as “angry.”
“I said, I am angry — I’m pretty angry because I hate what’s happening to our country. I am angry,” Trump explained as the crowd chanted “Trump! Trump!”
Trump pointed to a CNN appearance earlier in the day in which he was asked if he was an angry person.
“I was supposed to say, ‘No, I’m very, very happy?’” he said. “I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled to be giving Iran $150 billion.’”
Instead, Trump said he responded, “Yeah, I’m really angry because we’re being led by really stupid people that don’t know what they’re doing.”
Many of Trump’s supporters have deemed themselves to be the “silent majority,” in reference to a term used by Richard Nixon during his 1968 campaign. However, Trump declared them to be the “noisy as hell majority,” based on the attendance and enthusiasm of his events.
The businessman continued, pointing to the two U.S. boats that Iran seized yesterday in advance of Obama’s State of the Union address.
“This could only happen to Obama right-smack before his speech,” he said. “This is Jimmy Carter stuff. What’s going on now, we are back in the age of Jimmy Carter. Remember the hostages? Remember the hostages, and we couldn’t get them back? So, I look at it and I hate watching that.”
Trump’s prior visits to the Gulf Coast have been in Alabama and Mississippi. This was his first trip to the Panhandle region in Florida.
Florida’s primary is slated for March 15, and according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls that include polls from the Florida Times-Union and St. Pete Polls, at 33 percent, Trump has a commanding 12-point lead over his closest rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-FL). But he also has big leads over two Floridians, 17 points ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and 22 points over former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).
“Trump is kicking ass in Florida – can you believe that?” he said of his poll numbers as the crowd cheered.
Trump also riled up the crowd when he mentioned the failures of the past two Republican presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
“You know what happened, I backed McCain and I lost. I backed Romney – gave him a lot of money, both of them – and I lost,” he said. “And I said this time, I’m going to do it myself.”
Trump said he would make ending so-called gun-free zones on military bases one of his top priorities upon being sworn in.
“You have gun-free zones on military bases. I would end that in my first hour in office,” he declared.
After once again taking another shot at the media for not highlighting the crowd, Trump said there were 5,000 people who were turned away for lack of space. He then ended the rally with a pledge lead the country in a “winning” direction.
“We’re going to win at everything we do,” Trump said. “Other countries are going to respect us because we’re winners, not losers. We’re going to win at every single level. We’re going to win so much – you’re going to beg me. You’re going to say, ‘Mr. President, we’re so tired of winning we can’t take it anymore. Please don’t win anymore.’”
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