HILTON HEAD, S.C. — For Donald Trump, the 2016 election is a war – one he’s not planning on losing.
Trump called rival candidates like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush his “enemies” in the war for the White House on Wednesday. “We view this as a war,” he told a packed house here. “Don’t we view this as war? Right? It’s war."
His latest battle is a war of words with Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton after she accused the real estate mogul of sexism. Trump has responded in recent days by rehashing former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities and alleged sexual misconduct, as well as repeating his claim that “nobody respects women more than Donald Trump.”
Trump, who has always had a nothing-off-limits approach to campaigning, called Bill Clinton one of the “greatest abusers in the world,” cited “tremendous abuse of women," and elicited laughter from the crowd when he mentioned Hillary Clinton’s “husband’s situation.”
Previously Trump has said that President Clinton’s prior scandals are “fair game” and, when asked Tuesday night in Council Bluffs, Iowa, if his own prior indiscretions could be treated the same, he agreed they could be.
Turning his focus on the actual candidate, Trump admitted that he’d “love, love, love having a woman president” but that it “can’t be [Clinton], she’s horrible” and “gives me a headache.” He added that “women don’t like Hillary,” however NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling data shows Trump losing women 33 to 57 percent against Hillary Clinton. He does, however, win among men, 48 to 43 percent.
The Clinton’s weren’t the only candidates to draw Trump’s ire. The GOP frontrunner punched back at one of his favorite and most consistent targets, Jeb Bush. Calling Bush out for low poll numbers, Trump wondered aloud if he didn’t have anything better to do with his time. “He should go home and relax,” Trump said. “He shouldn’t be wasting his time.”
But despite Bush’s falling poll numbers and the acknowledgement by Trump that he should no longer focus his time or attacks on the former Florida governor, Trump can’t seem to let his feud with Bush go. “I shouldn’t even talk about him, he’s down to two or three” Trump said, “but it bothers me when I see a guy spending $60 million on ads, against me a lot of it, right?”
And while Trump has in the past stated that our international community, specifically the Middle East, was better off with dictators like Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi in power, he went further Wednesday telling the South Carolina crowd that Hussein’s methods, such as use of sarin gas, allowed for stabilization in the region. Remembering the constant back and forth between Iraq and Iran, Trump said: “They fight, that’s what they do. They fight…and they were equal, militarily. They go this way, 10 feet, they go this way, 10 feet…then Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy oh he’s using gas. They go back, forth, it's the same. And they were stabilized. And I said if you go after one or the other in this case Iraq you're going to destabilize the Middle East, that's what's going to happen.”
As has become typical of Trump’s rallies, he spent some time reading polls that show him ahead – admitting that if they turn negative he won’t highlight or talk about them in the same way. For now, though, he’s ahead but not taking any chances. Previewing increased spending and ads, Trump admitted that he’s doing all he can to shore up the nomination as states prepare to vote.
And if Trump doesn’t come out on top, he will have failed and wasted his time in the process. With a serious tone he declared to the crowd: “If I don’t win, I will consider this – and I mean this – a total and complete waste of time.”