Jorge Ramos, the Univision anchor and journalist, extensively squabbled with Trump twice in testy exchanges at a news conference before his rally here in Dubuque, 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, who remains an admired figure in Hispanic media, shows that Trump remains 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, 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.
Charging that Trump’s agenda to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants and to stop giving automatic citizenship to their children born on U.S. soil were unrealistic, Trump defended his plan as simple and possible. He reminded the host of his $500 million lawsuit against Univision, and told Ramos, “I have a bigger heart than you do.”
Those exchanges largely overshadowed what may have been an event meant to highlight Trump’s growing appeal. Seeming to work off a set of notes, the bombastic real-estate magnate was introudced by Clovis, who on Monday left the campaign of Rick Perry and will serve as Trump’s new national co-chair 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’s time.
The Republican front-runner has relished in 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 and 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 Hurricane Sandy.
The usual targets of Trump also re-emerged: Lobbyists, who finance Bush’s campaign and expect favors. Mexico, who he pledged to levy 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 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 Alabamans to a high school football stadium last week in Mobile.
Trump, the real estate magnate who has dislodged Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from his months-long standing in Iowa at top of the polls, 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 no longer wants to lead polls, but win elections.
“It’s one thing to have the summer of Trump. But it doesn’t mean anything unless we win,” Trump told his Dubuque crowd. “If you lose, what does it all matter?”