JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The morning after taking swipes at Dr. Ben Carson’s energy levels, Donald Trump continued his scorched earth campaign.
The business mogul doubled down on his attacks against Carson, calling him "lower energy than Bush" and hitting him for his lack of ability to negotiate well with China. Trump later admitted that he doesn’t get "what’s going on there” with Carson’s success so far this cycle, especially after two polls out this week showed Carson getting the better of Trump in Iowa.
Trump also threw punches about Carson’s super PAC operation in Iowa, which he says is running Carson’s campaign in the Hawkeye State.
Carson responded to Trump’s Friday jabs on Saturday morning during a media stop on his book tour in Ames, Iowa, saying that he doesn’t take Trump’s comments personally.
"I don’t have any reaction. I don’t do, you know, mud pit stuff. There are so many other important things to deal with," Carson said.
When he was asked again, he urged reporters to "move on to important issues" and called taking time on the Trump comments not "even worth my time."
Carson wasn’t the only politician that Trump took aim at. Trump added a new barb against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in light of new and aggressive restructuring of his campaign’s staff and spending.
"So Bush has no money, he’s cutting, he’s meeting today with mommy and daddy and they’re working on their campaign," he said.
Trump wondered aloud to the crowd of about 2,500 — asking why Bush waited to cut by 40 percent his payroll costs when he could’ve made that deal all along. "In other words, if he’s going to cut 40 percent, you cut the deal in the first place. You don’t wait until you’re failing. So he’s failing."
Trump added that Bush is "losing badly and embarrassing his family."
The former "Apprentice" host also hit back at Hillary Clinton, saying that she "came out fine" from the Benghazi hearings on Thursday but left the crowd with one additional reminder in the deadly 2012 attack in Libya that left five Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"Remember this," Trump said. "Hundreds and hundreds of phone calls made by the ambassador for help, she didn’t respond. She was unresponsive. You know why? She was sleeping or something. Or she was talking to her friends on her private email. But hundreds and hundreds of calls came out for help. And this guy died so bad."
On the ground in Jacksonville, Trump supporters endured a blazing sun for over an hour while Trump made his address, one of the real estate mogul’s longest so far this season. As the speech dwindled down, so did the crowd size with about a quarter of the audience gone as Trump hit the hour mark.
Among the attendees, many were still fired up from watching coverage of the candidate’s speech less than 24 hours before in Miami. And while Trump’s major headline was that the 80 percent Hispanic crowds — his estimate — at his Doral resort were "loving" his remarks, for others in Jacksonville on Saturday the takeaway was his about face with Carson.
One staunch Trump supporter urged his candidate to use caution in his Carson jabs.
"It’s a dangerous road to go down attacking Ben Carson," 41-year-old Jeremy, who declined to give his last name, told NBC News. "He’s a pretty nice guy and I just, I could see it backfiring."
"It’s a dangerous road to go down attacking Ben Carson."
Instead, he hoped to see Trump run on his own merits.
"I mean he’s a business man, he’s made billions of dollars, and he’s going to — you know, he may not know foreign policy quite as well as say, Jeb Bush, but he’s gonna put the right people in the right spot to do the job," Jeremy said.
Sisters Anne Foley and Lynne Fox echoed that sentiment. The women were not bothered by Trump’s attacks on Carson — admitting themselves that they "thought maybe Carson was falling asleep" the other day as they watched him on TV — although they would like to see the blustery billionaire obey Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
"That’s what I’ve always wished politicians would do," Fox said. "Build up yourself, don’t knock others down."
Foley agreed: "As long as he attacks him nicely, but I think he needs to talk more about himself and what he can do."
Husband and wife Robin and Mark Sirois are supporting Trump, but they’re not ready to ditch Carson yet either. "There’s three I like,” Robin Sirois explained to NBC News. "That’s Trump, Carson and Cruz." She quickly added that "of course, Trump’s my first."
Sirois is not alone in this sentiment. NBC/WSJ polling shows that Trump is the first choice of 25 percent, followed by Carson at 22 percent. But when it comes to who their second choice is, Carson leads the group, followed by Trump and Marco Rubio.
When asked if they really thought Trump was attacking Carson on Friday night in Miami, the couple qualified that what the media called attacks was really just a ruffling of feathers.
"I don’t think he’s really attacking him as in really nails out, attacking," Robin Sirois said. "But yeah, he’s probably rubbing some fur."