Republican frontrunner Donald Trump called Ted Cruz “sick” on Monday, a day ahead of the party’s Nevada caucuses, and told supporters he wished he could punch a protester at a rally.
Trump has called Cruz a “liar” and “nasty guy” and used an unprintable word for him before. And now this: “This guy is sick. There’s something wrong with this guy.”
He was irritated about an ad the Cruz campaign is running that claims the frontrunner wants to put federal land in Nevada under the control of the state government.
Trump told supporters at a rally that’s not a subject he knows anything about. “Something to do with I want to take away your land? And I want to keep it in the federal government? I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Bolstered by recent wins, Trump continues to look stronger and is drawing large crowds to his rallies, where he is known to tangle with protestors and have them thrown out.
As he did on Monday, again. This time, he wanted to punch the protestor.
As the man was being led out by guards, Trump said: “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks.”
As his supporters cheered in agreement, he added, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
In January, a Sikh man protesting against Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was thrown out of a rally in Iowa. About the man’s red turban, Trump said, “He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he? Was he wearing one of those?” He was referring to his campaign’s red cap.
Last November, Trump had an African-American protestor thrown out of a rally and then said he was “so obnoxious and so loud” that “maybe he should have been roughed up”. The protestor was indeed roughed up before being led out.
Trump, who has won two of the party’s three nominating contests so far, is leading in Nevada by a wide margin — ranging from 13 to 26 percentage points over his nearest rival.
With Jeb Bush exiting the race after the South Carolina primary last week, there are five candidates left in the Republican contest — Trump, Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson.
Democrats, who held their Nevada caucuses last week, are now in South Carolina, where Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 57.4% to 33.3%. Their primary is on Saturday.
The race has been getting hotter, and testier, on the Republican side as Trump solidifies his claim on the nomination with Cruz and Rubio locked in a close fight for the second slot.
As the number of candidates declines, Cruz and Rubio are hoping the number two slot will give them a chance to consolidate non-Trump voters and take on the frontrunner.