Thursday 22 February 2018

I'd like to punch protester in face, Trump tells rally

US Republican party frontrunner Donald Trump. Getty Images
US Republican party frontrunner Donald Trump. Getty Images

Nick Allen

Donald Trump said he would like to punch a protester in the face and suggested he would also like to see the man removed on a stretcher.

The billionaire made the comments at a rally attended by thousands of his supporters in a Las Vegas rodeo hall on the eve of Nevada becoming the fourth state to vote in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

As a middle-aged man in a grey T-shirt was ejected by security, Mr Trump said: "You know what? I miss the old days. We're not allowed to punch back any more. You know what they used to do to guys like that in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher.

"I hate to see that, there's a guy throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming as we're talking. The guards are very gentle and he's walking out smiling. I tell you, I'd like to punch him in the face."

Mr Trump is ahead in three-quarters of the next dozen states to vote in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, including Nevada.

Of the 11 states voting in the crucial 'Super Tuesday' event on March 1, latest polls showed Mr Trump up by seemingly insurmountable margins in Massachusetts, Alabama and Vermont, with narrower advantages in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alaska.

Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, held a narrow lead in his home state, and in Arkansas, while Marco Rubio was up by two points in Minnesota.

"Trump, amazingly, is in a commanding position to become the Republican presidential nominee," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Centre for Politics.

"If someone is going to beat Trump, then Rubio probably has the best shot but the hour is growing late. He can't keep on finishing second or third. You have to start winning, but where?"

Mr Trump won easy victories in the previous two states to vote, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

As the candidates arrived in Nevada, the property mogul claimed he could "run the table".

But he added: "You can always be stopped. I have competitors who are very smart people."

The latest polls in Nevada showed Mr Trump with a lead of at least 16 points over Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz.

However, polls in the state are notoriously unreliable due to the transient working population in the main city, Las Vegas.

Mr Rubio, the 44-year-old senator from Florida, believed he could upset the predictions, partly because he spent six years living in Las Vegas as a child.

"My dad worked at Sam's Town, he was a pretty good bartender, and my mother was a maid at the Imperial Palace," he told an enthusiastic crowd at a casino on the edge of the city.

He added: "I always think of Las Vegas as a place of hope and fresh starts."

Mr Rubio was introduced on stage by Donnie Wahlberg, singer with the 1980s pop band New Kids On The Block.

"I've never voted for a Republican candidate before," said Mr Wahlberg. "But Marco's more prepared than anybody else by a mile to be president." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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