Playing to Hawkeye State evangelical voters, Donald Trump riffed on religious political correctness at an event here Wednesday by vowing to always say “Merry Christmas” come the winter holiday season.
“I’m a good Christian,” the Republican presidential front-runner said. “If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store … You can leave happy holidays at the corner.”
Trump supporters in the room said it was precisely Trump’s aversion to political correctness that attracted them to the colorful candidate.
“He actually says what I want to hear and he’s not worried about telling somebody or saying it in a way that doesn’t sound real,” said Cynthia Forth, a 60-year-old from Crawfordsville, Iowa. “I want to hear (it) straight. He’ll give it to you straight.”
Trump on Wednesday also reveled in Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to run for president, telling supporters in Iowa: “He did the smart thing.”
He said he did not think Biden could have won the Democratic nomination, saying to thunderous cheers from the audience that he would much rather take on Hillary Clinton in the general election.
“Frankly, I really want to run against Hillary,” Trump said. “That’s the one we want to go against. You go against that record, you’re just gonna win. We’re gonna win.”
Trump added that Clinton had made “so many mistakes.”
“Look at the world,” he said. “We are a mess.”
Biden finally ended months of 2016 speculation on Wednesday when he announced – to the surprise of many – that he would not seek the White House for the third time. He said he believed the window had closed on launching a viable and winning campaign.
And it’s not all that surprising that Trump would prefer to take on Clinton over Biden next November.
A CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed that Trump competes better against Clinton: he trailed her 50% to 45% and against Biden, that gap was greater: 53% to 43%.
Trump has been leading in Iowa polls in recent months, and his unorthodox campaign has shown signs of grassroots organizing just several months out from the state’s caucuses.
CNN’s Noah Gray contributed to this report.