In Iowa, Donald Trump Takes Aim at Scott Walker, for a Change
OSKALOOSA, Iowa — To the list of Republican rivals he has insulted, Donald J. Trump on Saturday added a new name: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whom he accused of mismanaging his state’s budget and creating a disaster for its roads, schools and hospitals.
Mr. Walker, who has been restrained in criticizing Mr. Trump’s provocative remarks compared with other Republican presidential candidates, is leading in the polls in Iowa, a fact that seemed to gall Mr. Trump, the golf course entrepreneur and former reality star.
“I can’t believe I’m in second place,’’ Mr. Trump told several hundred people who filled a high school auditorium and an overflow room to see him. “Folks, will you please put me in first place so I feel better?”
Mr. Trump’s criticism of Senator John McCain’s war record one week ago at an Iowa forum set off a furious round of attacks between him and other Republicans. On Saturday, he said he felt free to add Mr. Walker to his hit list after a Walker supporter called Mr. Trump “DumbDumb” in a fund-raising appeal.
“I said, ‘Finally, I can attack him,’ ’’ Mr. Trump said to laughter.
He went down a list of criticisms that seemed the result of an overnight opposition-research effort. “Wisconsin is doing terribly,’’ he said. “The roads are a disaster because they don’t have any money to rebuild them, and they’re borrowing money like crazy.’’
He cited figures for the state’s budget deficit. “I wrote this stuff all down but I don’t need it because I have a really good memory,” he said.
He also accused Mr. Walker of flip-flopping on the Common Core education standards, having once supported them. “Scott Walker changed when he saw he was getting creamed, so now he’s not in favor,’’ he said.
Mr. Trump gave $10,000 to Mr. Walker’s re-election campaign last year, something he alluded to in a meandering, backhanded way: “I’ve been nice to Scott Walker,” he said. “He’s a nice guy. He came up to my office three or four months ago and presented me with a plaque because I helped him with his election. I liked that he was fighting.
“I didn’t know what the hell he was doing, but he was fighting, and I like a fighter,” Mr. Trump added. “Does that make sense?”
The leader in national polls of the Republican candidates, Mr. Trump dropped in to Oskaloosa, about 70 minutes east of Des Moines, and treated the crowd to a picnic lunch of hamburgers and pulled pork. He was applauded and cheered throughout a one-hour, free-associative speech, especially when he bragged that he had barred reporters from The Des Moines Register from the event after its editorial page called on him to quit the race for the good of the Republican Party.
Talking to reporters after his speech, Mr. Trump seemed to set his characteristic hubris aside when discussing the Republican debate on Aug. 6, presumably to lower expectations for his performance. He said he had no debating experience compared with the politicians he is likely to face on stage.
“I’m going to be there much to the chagrin of many people, but I’m no debater,’’ he said. “From what I’ve heard, everyone is going to come after me.’’
Yet he said he was not undertaking any debate preparation. “I am who I am,’’ he said.