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Trump Speaks At Pensacola Bay Center

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump took to the podium Wednesday night at the Pensacola Bay Center.

The businessman and reality TV star made a rock-star type entrance, to the joy of an overflow crowd estimated at more than 11,000. Another 5,000 were reportedly turned away. During a wide-ranging address of just over an hour, Trump re-hashed his ongoing attacks against the media and President Obama. He then had thoughts about this week’s deal with Iran to release ten U.S. sailors. 

“You saw those poor guys today on the boat; the way that guy was shouting at him – a thug,” said Trump. “And for us, the apology [to Iran by Sec. of State John Kerry], ‘we’re sorry, we’re sorry.’ And they’re down on their knees. I just hated to see that for our country.”

Credit (Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO
People say the Pledge of Allegiance during the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaign rally at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida Wednesday January 13, 2016.

While Trump has a comfortable lead in New Hampshire according to a new Monmouth University poll, a new Quinnipiac survey has him leading Ted Cruz by only 31-29% percent in Iowa, a dead heat within the margin of error. Trump has shifted the “birther card” from Barack Obama to Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Alberta.

“A lot of lawyers say you can’t be born in Canada, you can’t be a Canadian citizen,” Trump said. “Supposing he runs, and everybody’s banking on him, and then the courts rule that he can’t run? That’s not so good. What do you do, concede the election to Hillary Clinton or Crazy Bernie [Sanders]?”

He also pointed to his leads over the two Florida candidates, former Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

“So you have a governor who has very low energy named Bush; you have Rubio, who’s a sitting senator, and you have Trump,” said Trump. “Trump is winning like 32 [percent] to 12, to four or five or something. Trump is kicking ass in Florida, can you believe that?” as the crowd cheered.

Trump also told the packed Bay Center that he would use his business acumen to prevent U.S. companies from relocating overseas, and to even what he considers an uneven playing field when it comes to trade in general, and with China in particular.

“If you want to do a deal with China, you’ve got to suffer,” said Trump. “When they do deals with us they come right in, there’s [sic] no taxes. You do deals with China, there is a tax and nobody calls it a tariff, but there’s [sic] big taxes. It’s very hard to do.”

Some Trump supporters began camping out at the Bay Center as early as Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, the crowd began to grow hours before the gates opened at five o’clock. Among them, Betty Mendez from Miramar Beach.

“I believe that he’s smart enough to work with the economy, and I think he’s smart enough to work with any aspects,” said Mendez. “Whether it’s ISIS or immigrants or whatever the question is. And we’re excited about Trump.”

Credit Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO
Supporters listen while U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida Wednesday January 13, 2016.

Donald Trump’s appearance in Pensacola came one day before tonight’s next Republican presidential debate on Fox Business Network.

“Every debate poll, everyone from the beginning, all of the debates, I’ve won,” said Trump. “Now we have another debate, and again they attack. Whatever, whatever, whatever.”

Once again, Trump will occupy the center podium and be joined onstage by Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich.