SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says his supporters are so loyal they would stick with him even if he shot somebody.
The comment came as Trump contrasted himself with rivals such as Ted Cruz, his most serious challenger in the state, with just nine days to go before the Iowa caucuses open voting in the 2016 campaign.
"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" Trump told an enthusiastic audience at a Christian school, Dordt College. "It's like incredible."
In addition to criticizing his rivals, Trump went after conservative radio host Glenn Beck, who will be appearing at two rallies with Cruz. He bashed Beck as a "loser" and "sad sack" and said Sarah Palin's endorsement, secured for Trump a few days earlier, is more important than if Beck had backed him.
Beck is among nearly two dozen conservative thinkers who penned anti-Trump essays for National Review magazine — a hit Trump to referred to repeatedly at the rally.
Another GOP candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, started a dash to the caucuses at Iowa State University in Ames, where stressed that he represents the next generation of conservative leadership.
"Complaining and being frustrated alone will not be enough," Rubio said. "It has to be someone who tells you exactly what they are going to do as president."
Rubio recently stepped up his Iowa campaign appearances in hopes of breaking through the poll leaders in the state, Cruz and Trump, and putting himself in a stronger position for New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary.