Confidence is not something Donald Trump lacks as he campaigns across the country for the GOP nomination for President. He stopped in Burlington Wednesday night, walking to the stage in Memorial Auditorium as the song "You're the Best Around" blared over the loudspeakers.
Trump told a cheering crowd of more than 2,000 that he is ready for the nominating process to be over so he can face Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton in the General Election.
"Frankly, I really want to run against Hillary," said Trump. "That's the one -- if you have a baseball team or a football team, you sort of get your heart set on something, that's the one we want to go against because if you go against that record, we are going to win. We are going to win big."
Trump quickly shifted to his lead in the polls, running through result after result for more than five minutes. He even tied in shots at his opponents, including George Pataki, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham.
"A lot of people are going to start dropping out, which is good. You get a much better discussion going instead of having all these folks around. The whole thing is ridiculous," said Trump.
He spoke for an hour, encouraging the crowd -- which was a mix of young and old -- to shout out their thoughts during his speech, at one point even saying Burlington had the best straight men due to the comments being made. The crowd roared in support of Trump throughout, saving one of the loudest applause moments for a discussion about politically-correct speech... in particular about Christmas.
"If I become President, we are going to be saying Merry Christmas at every store," said Trump. "The Happy Holidays, you can leave that over in the corner... I am saying Merry Christmas to whoever the hell wants to hear it. That's not to knock anyone else. Other religions can do what they want, there is room for everyone."
Trump quickly moved from issue to issue throughout the speech.
"Deductibles are through the roof, unless you get hit by a Komatsu tractor, because Komatsu is doing very well because, you know what happened, Japan de-valued their currency and Caterpillar is having a very hard time, you know that, right, they are having a very, very hard time, a very, very hard time. Unless you get hit by a Komatsu tractor coming right out of Japan, the deductible is so high, it's never going to... you have to die, and then it doesn't work because that's not what deductibles are supposed to be. You have huge increases, so we have to repeal and replace Obamacare with something great.
"A country isn't a country unless we have a border, wouldn't you agree? We're going to have a border and people are going to come into the country, but they are going to come in legally. They're not coming in illegally, they're coming in legally. We're going to build a wall. It's going to be a great wall. It's going to be a wall that is really effective. Walls do work. You can look at Israel and look at different places, walls do work and Mexico is going to pay for it."
Dealing with China
"I have people buying apartments for $35-$40-million in Manhattan from China. What am I going to do, dislike them? I like them. The largest bank in the world is a tenant of mine, from China. I mean, I respect them. I wish our leaders would be able to do the same thing. I would be so proud if our leaders could take the (trade) deals and make them great deals, even good deals, even break-even deals."
The Current Administration
"We have to stop the nonsense, where our people, our leaders, our representatives, are negotiators are so incompetent., it makes me sick."
"Romney let us down. He should have won that election [but] he let us down. Plain and simple, he choked, he choked... I backed Romney. That's one that [we] should have won and he failed us. He failed us. I'm not happy about it. This time, I said I'm not going to let that happen again, I'm going to do it myself."
Trump concluded his appearance by having his photo taken with members of the crowd and signing autographs.
After the event, Kathy Martinez of Fort Madison approached the staging area for local and national reporters, showing off her newest possession: a Donald Trump sign autographed by Trump himself.
"I always liked him from the Apprentice and I wanted to see him in person to see if it matched the TV persona," said Martinez.
She said he was very vibrant, as she expected, but she said it's too early to put all of her support behind Trump because the Iowa Caucus is still more than three months away.