LOS ANGELES – Billionaire Donald Trump stood beneath three towering 16-inch guns aboard a battleship in a show of political and military strength in advance of Wednesday night’s big GOP presidential debate – and said his competitors aren’t tough enough to take on our rivals.
“I’m fighting some very nice people — even though I’m leading in the polls,” Trump told a crowd of more than 500 aboard the decommissioned USS Iowa battleship.
“They’re never going to do anything with these countries. It’s an instinct — it’s something that’s special. They don’t have it. Believe me, they don’t have it. It’s going to be more of the same.”
It was just a taste of what he is expected to throw at rivals Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina in a prime time debate Wednesday. He’s launched insults at all three of them in the past weeks, but didn’t mention rivals by name Tuesday.
Trump called for a military buildup and pledged to release plans – but gave almost no details.
“We’re going to come out with some plans in a very short time. We’re going to be building up our military. We’re going to be making our military so big and so strong and so great,” Trump said.
“It will be so powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it. Nobody’s going to mess with us.”
Looking at the grey hull of the Brooklyn-built ship, which ferried FDR to the Tehran conference during World War II, Trump remarked: “They don’t built ships like this any more, folks … I actually said what about re-commissioning?
When he was finished, Trump tossed out hats emblazoned with his “Make America Great Again” slogan.
“This is the hottest thing out there. You can’t get em,” he said.
Trump ignored dozens of protesters who chanted form onshore while he spoke and held signs such as “Deport Trump.”
He pointed to the port of Long Beach and vowed to make better trade deals. “We’ve been losing hundreds of billions a year, frankly for decades. Not gonna happen any more.”
And after stumbling earlier in the campaign on some veterans’ issues by questioning Sen. John McCain’s war hero status and comparing his time in a military school to actual military service, Trump saluted veterans and promised to improve their care by sending them to private doctors if necessary.
“He’s kinda like Elvis,” said Patrick Duffy, a former longshoreman from San Pedro, speaking of Trump, who he came to see. “I never seen Elvis in person, but I should have. But this guy’s the same type of guy as that. He paints with a broad brush. He’s got smarts. He’s got balls.”
“He can make a mistake,” added Duffy, a who served in the Army the Vietnam. “He’s alright, when you think of some of the creeps around here.”