In a victory press conference on Tuesday in Jupiter, Florida, 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump aimed to defuse GOP establishment hatred of him, all while mocking his most ardent detractors.
“I must tell you, it’s very, very important—as a Republican—that our senators and that our congressmen get re-elected, that we put a good group of people together, that we keep the people there,” Trump said to open his press conference after winning both Michigan and Mississippi by substantial margins. “Not all of them are on my side, but we have some terrific people, and it’s very, very important if we’re going to be effective. It’s very, very important.”
Trump would, later in the evening, go on to win the Hawaii GOP caucuses by an extraordinary margin—proving he’s won from the Deep South to the South Pacific, and from the American West to the Northeast. Trump has racked up wins in states as wide-ranging as New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Michigan, Vermont, Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
Trump in the press conference touted his ability to drive massive interest in the election and get record turnout in the presidential primaries and caucuses nationwide. He argued that this is the biggest story in politics hands down and compared his efforts to bring new people into the Republican Party to the Democrats’ failures to do so.
“One of the things I’m most happy about is that the turnout has just been massive for every week—whether it’s South Carolina or it started pretty much with New Hampshire and really Iowa; no matter where you go, it’s records,” Trump said. He added:
I think it’s actually the single-biggest story in politics today, what’s happening at the booth, the tremendous number of people who are coming out to vote. Some of the states are getting—in fact, one has 102 percent increase over four years ago. It’s amazing: 102 percent. On average, you’re talking about more than 50; you’re talking about millions and millions of people, whereas the Democrats are down 30 to 35 percent. They’re down from what they were. We’re up by 50 percent at least, and even more than that. You’re talking about millions of people. So I actually think it’s the biggest story in politics today and I hope that the Republicans will embrace it.
Trump then shifted to his ability to get crossover voters from Democrats, something that would be crucial to winning a general election should he complete his takeover of the GOP and win the party’s presidential nomination.
“We have, don’t forget, Democrats coming over—very importantly,” Trump said, continuing:
We have independents coming over. And they haven’t done that ever, probably ever, and with all of these people coming over, we’re going to have something very, very special. If I win, and if I get to go against Hillary, polls are showing that I beat her and some of the polls have me beating her very easily because when you take advantage—we will take many, many people away from the Democrats and we’ll take many, many people away that normally go Democrat as independents. We’re seeing that. We’re seeing that. We had people come over here who have never voted Republican, who have never even thought about it, and they came, and they voted Republican. And I’ll tell you about another group of people I’ve seen, and I’ll be signing autographs after a speech and we’ll be talking to people, and I’ve had many, many people say, and it was a beautiful thing to hear it, “Mr. Trump, I’m 67 years old”—many people—“I’m 67 years old. I’ve never ever voted before. I’ve never come close to voting before. This is the first time I’ll ever vote.” And that’s so amazing. That’s so amazing. And they do it with such spirit.
Trump mocked his critics for creating a scenario that led to his political rise.
“I want to thank the special interests and the lobbyists because they obviously did something to drive these numbers,” he said. “I mean, we’re close to 50 and 40, and no, I want to congratulate them because to raise that much money that quickly is a pretty good feat, right? Do we agree? No, many of them are my friends, but they just have to gamble. They want to do it.”
Trump then talked about House Speaker Paul Ryan and his relationship with the top congressional Republican.
“I want to thank Paul Ryan,” Trump said. “He called me a couple of day ago. He could not have been nicer. He was very encouraging and I have great respect for Paul Ryan. Great respect.”
After attacking his chief remaining rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) again, and then laying out his endorsements from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio—as well as his tough stance on the border—Trump turned his guns on Mitt Romney. Romney, the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee, who lost the election to current Democratic President Barack Obama, has hammered Trump in recent days—efforts that have backfired per recent polling data and per these landslide election results in Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii.
“Mitt Romney got up and made a speech the other day,” Trump said, fighting off boos and jeers of Romney from supporters at his press conference. “He’s a very nice man. But I understand. Look, it’s hard when you go through this and you get to the final gate and you don’t get over it; it’s hard. It’s a hard thing. I understand. But he did make some statements. I understand. And he brought some things up.”
Then Trump proceeded to walk through Romney’s various criticisms of his products and businesses: Trump bottled water, Trump steaks, Trump magazine, Trump University, Trump airlines, Trump wine and more. He argued that each one of the businesses was successful.
Afterwards, Trump noted that throughout this GOP primary he has survived every attack from every direction—and that he is the only one who had a good night on Tuesday, even though Cruz would go on to win Idaho.
“Every single person who’s attacked me has gone down,” Trump said. Elaborating, he stated:
Okay? I don’t want to mention names. Let’s not mention names. But you can take a look at virtually every single person—we started off with 17—we’re down to four. Of the four, they’re pretty much all done. Okay? Pretty much. They didn’t do so well tonight, folks. I’m not going to say anybody didn’t do well. But they didn’t do well. There’s only one person who didn’t not do well tonight: Donald Trump. I will tell you. It was actually amazing. I was impressed even Megyn Kelly said, “Boy, Donald Trump really did well tonight.”
As he looked directly into the lenses of the television cameras and pointed at them, a confident Trump rubbed it in again: “Thank you, Megyn. Thank you!”
“That was very unusual. I was shocked, actually, to hear that,” Trump said. “But that was very nice. And Charles Krauthammer said that. He was very, very nice. Thank you, Charles. It’s about time. I’ve been waiting like five years, Charles.”
Trump turned next to March 15, this coming Tuesday, where several states–including the all-important Florida and Ohio, among others–are up for grabs. Several of them are the first winner-take-all states, and Trump is polling way ahead of the rest of the field in most of these upcoming contests. Trump will be in Miami, Florida, with his remaining three competitors–Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ohio Gov. John Kasich–for the CNN debate on Thursday evening.
Kasich had a decent evening on Tuesday, coming in second in Michigan and third, ahead of Rubio, in Mississippi. Rubio’s evening was horrendous, as he missed the mark to accumulate any delegates in both Michigan and Mississippi–something he has done in other states nationwide, as well–as his campaign continues to fight off a death spiral. Trump is crushing Rubio in recent Florida polling. Despite a slightly narrowing gap between the two, Trump’s lead over the first-term senator in his home state of Florida is nearly double digits, if not more, depending on the polls.