Donald Trump headlines a rally in Iowa on Tuesday night
Trump is pressed on immigration by Jorge Ramos, a Univision reporter, during a press conference
Ramos is forced out of the room before being allowed to return
Jorge Ramos, the Univision anchor and journalist, extensively squabbled with Donald Trump twice in testy exchanges at a news conference before his rally here Tuesday, with a security officer at one point ejecting Ramos from the event.
“Go back to Univision,” Trump told Ramos early in their first back-and-forth. Ramos had attempted to engage with Trump on his positions, though he had not been called upon, standing and lobbing concerns about Trump’s plan at the candidate.
“Sit down. Sit down. Sit down,” Trump said.
Trump spoke in Iowa as he collected a highly sought endorsement from a popular conservative activist, Sam Clovis – a reflection of Trump’s sudden political power thanks to surging poll numbers in the Hawkeye State. And the businessman is moving to hire experienced operatives in early states to replace what was at one point a green political shop.
But his fight with Ramos, an admired figure in Hispanic media, shows that Trump is still by no means an establishment figure – even as he tries to build out a more professional campaign.
“He was out of order. I would take his question in two seconds,” Trump said, adding that he wouldn’t mind if Ramos – “a very emotional person” – returned to ask a question politely.
Ramos did return, but the ensuing exchange was far from polite.
“Here’s the problem with your immigration plan. It’s full of empty promises,” Ramos said, when allowed back into the press room.
He charged that Trump’s agenda to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to stop giving automatic citizenship to their children born on U.S. soil was unrealistic, but Trump defended his plan as simple and possible. He reminded Ramos of his $500 million lawsuit against Univision and told him, “I have a bigger heart than you do.”
After Trump said Wednesday that Ramos was “ranting and raving like a mad man,” Ramos insisted Wednesday morning on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump was “the one who is out of line.”
Ramos said Trump has fostered hatred and division “and we have to call him out on that (as journalists).”
Those exchanges largely overshadowed an event that may have been meant to highlight Trump’s growing appeal. Seeming to work off a set of notes, the bombastic real-estate magnate was introduced by Clovis, who on Monday left the campaign of Rick Perry and will serve as Trump’s new national co-chairman and senior policy adviser.
And Trump pledged to engage on a new policy issue, college debt, telling reporters he would unveil his program in about a month.
The Republican front-runner has relished attacking his GOP opponents, usually training his daggers on the back-of-the-pack candidates who punch at him or at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who himself was once the national front-runner. But on Tuesday in Dubuque, Trump took his first shots at the other Floridian seeking the Republican nomination, Sen. Marco Rubio.
Trump at one point appeared to try to goad Rubio and Bush to squabble with another, suggesting that Rubio should not have challenged Bush, a man Rubio has described as his mentor, because it was not his turn. And he chided Bush for not keeping him at bay.
“They’re hugging and they’re kissing and they’re holding each other, very much like Chris Christie did with the president,” Trump said, jabbing the New Jersey governor for his high-profile embrace of President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Trump’s usual targets also re-emerged: lobbyists, who, he said, finance Bush’s campaign and expect favors; Mexico, which he pledged to hit with a 35% tax on auto imports; and most prominently, the media, especially Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who Trump said should apologize to him after asking him what he saw as unfair questions at the first GOP debate.
Trump spent much of the day Tuesday embroiled in a public spat with the chief of Fox News, Roger Ailes, who called Trump’s renewed attacks on Kelly “disturbing.”
Trump has drawn record crowds at some of his campaign rallies, bringing an estimated 30,000 Alabamians to a high school football stadium last week in Mobile.
Trump, who has dislodged Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from his monthslong standing ontop of the polls in Iowa, has looked to assemble a professional political operation that can turn out voters in next winter’s caucuses. His campaign is using contests made famous on his NBC television show, “The Apprentice,” to recruit caucus leaders.
And on Tuesday, Trump showed signs of being a candidate who’s no longer satisfied just to lead polls, but wants to win elections.