Donald Trump Begs, Pleads With Iowans To Vote For Him : It's All Politics The billionaire real estate mogul has seen his numbers slip in the state that holds the first presidential nominating contest, and he let the crowd know about his displeasure Tuesday night.
NPR logo

Donald Trump Begs, Pleads With Iowans To Vote For Him

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/452439334/452466335" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Donald Trump Begs, Pleads With Iowans To Vote For Him

Donald Trump Begs, Pleads With Iowans To Vote For Him

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/452439334/452466335" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Donald Trump held a big rally in Iowa last night. That's not new. But there was something different this time. It was Trump's first Iowa event in more than three months when he was not sitting atop the polls there. All of the surveys of Iowa voters in the past week have put Ben Carson in the top spot. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports from Sioux City, where Trump seemed perplexed by the turn of events and let his audience know.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Every Donald Trump event includes a good bit of bragging about poll numbers. And last night's Sioux City rally was true to form.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I love New Hampshire. We've got great numbers, 38 to 12.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: And he pointed out his big lead in South Carolina, another early voting state. But in Iowa - Iowa - Ben Carson is now on top.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: But we fell a little behind in Iowa. And some people are saying, how can it be?

GONYEA: Trump said political analysts kept telling him to skip Iowa, a place where evangelical voters play an outsized role in the GOP caucuses. He says he told them no - then back to the polls and the candidate striking a wounded pose.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Would you get these numbers up? I promise you I will do such a good job. First of all, I am a great Christian. I am.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And I do well with the evangelicals. But the evangelicals left me down a little bit this last month. I don't know what I did.

GONYEA: To underscore his Christianity, campaign handouts last night included a photo of Trump at his 1959 confirmation ceremony. But here comes the tricky part. How does Trump go after Ben Carson when many Republican voters like them both? Fifty-eight-year-old attorney Jamie Bowers of Sioux City says Trump can't attack the soft-spoken Carson as aggressively as he has Jeb Bush.

JAMIE BOWERS: It's hard to go after a guy who's just nice all the time.

GONYEA: Even if you disagree with him.

BOWERS: Right, right. Don't pick on the nice guy.

GONYEA: Over the past week, Trump has gone after Carson, criticizing his low-key manner and wondering aloud about Carson's Seventh-day Adventist religion, implying that it's out of the mainstream. But last night, he was careful, first saying he can't see Carson negotiating with the Chinese. And he criticized Carson's very successful campaign fund-raising operation as too costly and inefficient. This line, late in his speech, was as tough as Trump got at this rally.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Ben Carson said yesterday or the other day that he wants to abolish Medicare, OK? And you know what a disaster that is. Now, I'm sure at some point he'll take it back. But he said he wants to abolish Medicare. And one thing, people do like their Medicare. They do like it.

GONYEA: Thirty-two-year-old bartender Matt Buck was at the event. He is a big Trump backer who says his guy should go hard after Ben Carson.

MATT BUCK: He's got to do what he's got to do to get the election, to get in. I mean, he's the strongest man for the job I feel. Then he has to do what he has to do.

GONYEA: But Steve Craig, a farmer who lives nearby, says he hopes it doesn't come to that.

STEVE CRAIG: It won't be good for either one of them, I don't think - because we're all in this together. We've got to work against the other team.

GONYEA: Here's how Trump wrapped up his remarks last night, a message to Iowans about how he's polling.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I refuse to say get your asses in gear. I will not say that. I will not say it.

GONYEA: He then pledged his love for Iowa.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I love you all. But I do mean it. I'm going to say here. We're going to work really hard. When I heard the poll today, they said what are you going to do? I said, I'm going to work harder in Iowa. I'm not leaving Iowa. I'm not leaving Iowa.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Now, if I lose Iowa, I will never speak to you people again. That I can tell you.

GONYEA: A joke, but perhaps one with more than a grain of truth. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Sioux City, Iowa.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.