Donald Trump has a message for his detractors who believe he’ll eventually flame out or call it quits: “I’m not going anywhere, folks.”
The Republican presidential candidate made the declaration at a news conference just before his first town hall event in Derry, New Hampshire on Wednesday evening.
The billionaire real estate mogul was asked who he believes is his biggest competition, to which he replied, “The only thing constant is Trump,” adding his rivals are “going up and down like yo-yos.”
“But I’ve been up there for a long time, and I hope I’m going to be up there for a long time ... I’m not going anywhere, folks. I’m not doing this for my health. I’m doing this to make America great again,” said Trump.
Recent polls show Trump leading in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa despite several controversies: his GOP debate clash earlier this month with Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly, eyebrow-raising remarks about undocumented immigrants, and questioning Arizona Sen. John McCain’s status as a "war hero.”
Trump and his rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush held competing town halls at the same time in the Granite State. Trump drew the bigger crowd however, with about 900 people filling the Pinkerton Academy auditorium with several hundred more in an overflow room and even more standing outside. Meanwhile, Bush’s event in Merrimack, about 15 miles away, was attended by about 200 people.
Trump repeatedly took aim at Bush. During the town hall, the former reality show host noted, “Right down the road, we have Jeb—very small crowd,” later adding that group “They’re sleeping now.”
He characterized Bush’s remark that Iraqis want to know America has “skin in the game” in the battle against the terrorist group known as ISIS as “extremely dumb” – in addition to his support for Common Core and once saying immigration was an “act of love.”
During the press conference, Trump called Bush “low energy” and “out of touch” when it comes to women’s health care. “No one’s going to be better on women’s health issues than Donald Trump,” he said, although he did not go into detail about what his plan would entail.
Bush, during his town hall, did not refrain from taking jabs against Trump, either. At one point the ex-governor argued “Mr. Trump doesn’t have a proven conservative record ... Let’s support someone where you don’t’ have to guess where he stands.”
Trump, who faced a friendly crowd, was asked by one woman if his hubris could be a liability. Trump responded by insisting “it takes guts to run for president.” He also went on a tangent about his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants. “I will build the greatest wall that you’ve ever seen.” Despite criticism, Trump insisted that “of course” Mexico would pay for such a barrier.
At one point, A man noted Trump has laid out only one policy position – about immigration – on his website and wanted to know if he could speak to any other policy plans. Trump insisted he had more “wonderful policy positions” in store.
Bush wasn’t the only politician in Trump’s crosshairs. He frequently played up anti-Washington sentiment, arguing that he wouldn’t be held hostage to big money because of his own wealth. Name-checking Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Trump said “They’re totally controlled — totally controlled — by special interest, lobbyists and donors.”
Trump also criticized 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney during his press conference. “He should have won that election. He failed. He choked — no different than a golfer who misses a putt on the 18th hole.”