(CN) – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took aim at the United State’s allies among Persian Gulf states on Tuesday, saying they would not exist without U.S. help and need to do more to bring the Islamic State to heel in Syria.
The GOP standard-bearer did tacitly acknowledged that Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are partners in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group during a speech in Ashburn, Virginia Tuesday morning, but he said if he’s elected president, he will require them to finance a safe zone in Syria.
“The Gulf states have nothing but money and they’re going to pay,” he said,” using a line he ordinarily reserves for Mexico and the wall he proposes to build to block illegal immigration along the southern U.S. border.
Trump’s appearance Tuesday morning came shortly after President Barack Obama offered his strongest denunciation to date of the Republican candidate.
In a news conference, Obama reiterated comments he made last week at the Democratic National Convention, saying Trump is “unfit to serve as president.”
But he then went on to urge the GOP leadership to withdraw their backing for his candidacy.
The president said the Republican criticisms of Trump “ring hollow” in the wake of his his attacks on the Muslim parents of an American soldier, Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq, ‘ring hollow” if that continue to support the billionaire real estate mogul’s run for the White House.
“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Obama said.
Trump did not address the criticism directly, but then, President Obama’s rebuke may have been the least of his problems on Tuesday. A new CBS News poll shows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leading him in support among registered voters 46 percent to 39 percent.
Clinton got a 4-point bump following her party’s Philadelphia convention, the CBS News survey found. The latest assessment breaks the 42 percent-to-42 percent tie between the two candidates in a CBS News poll taken after the Republican National Convention.
It was not surprising then, that Trump spent much of his speech Tuesday in attack mode, hammering hard on an issue be believes is a winner his opponent’s on-again, off-again support of trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership.
“She got pushed around by the Sanders crowd,” he said, referring to the trade deal. “But she won’t do what they want.”
“Many [Sanders supporters] will vote for us because they like our trade policies. Our crowd is bigger than Bernie’s and bigger than Hillary’s that’s for sure,” he added.
“We’re running against dishonest people. It was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He should have just gone home and gone to sleep. Instead he made a deal with the devil. He brought her half of the party,” he said. “You would have thought she’d give him a bone.”
Fifteen minutes before the rally was set to begin, the Trump campaign distributed an email blast declaring August 2 “Clinton’s Pants on Fire Day,” citing several articles from Politico, the Washington Post and the New York Post. The mailing also urged voters to read the articles so that they may evaluate “Hillary Clinton’s outright lies to the American people” for themselves.
Trump also reminded voters that Clinton had “[earned] four Pinocchio’s and a “pants on fire” rating from fact checkers” as well as “strong rebukes from editorial boards, interviews and writers across the board.”
Calling Clinton “weak,” Trump continued “We have people that don’t know what they’re doing. Clinton will be worse. She has bad relationships with people like Putin. She has terrible relationships with Putin, and this is a nuclear country we’re talking about,” he said.
“She wants to play the tough one, she’s not tough. I know tough people. She’s just being pushed from place to place by handlers. They talk about presidential; do you think she looks presidential?” he asked supporters.
The question was met with a resounding “no” and Trump smiled broadly before critiquing the democratic nominee further.
“She wants to play the role of the tough guy against Putin and Russia, she should be tough on trade because right now we’re being ripped off on trade like no one else has ripped us off in history,” he said.
There was no specific mention at today’s rally of the litany of controversies Trump has embroiled himself in before, during and since the GOP convention ended a week and a half ago.
Trump steered clear of the subject of his numerous military draft deferrals and his self-described “tongue-in-cheek” assessment of Russia’s responsibility in the DNC server leak.
He also avoided talk of Captain Humayun Khan, the slain Muslim American solider whose parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, openly criticized him during the Democratic National Convention.
Instead Trump called out the “cruelty” of the media. He threatened to call out specific “bad” reporters by name, but stopped short of that. Trump did, however, offer fierce criticism of the New York Times, who he said was failing and would be purchased by “some rich guy in three years.”
“Their reporting is so dishonest, I won’t get into individual reporters names,” he said. “I’d like to, but I won’t. They want Hillary Clinton to win so badly, they cry, they beg,”
“She’s a thief, she’s a crook and she lies more than human being I’ve ever known,” Trump said.
There were some dissenting voices both inside and outside of the rally. A few dozen protestors held signs in the parking lot outside of Briar Woods High School with messages like “Down with Fascist Donald Trump” emblazoned in red paint.
A small group of pro-Trump supporters gathered nearby, leaning over an automated parking gate eyeballing protestors and talking quietly amongst themselves.
Lines wrapped around the school a full two hours before the event was scheduled to begin, with several hundred more voters left standing outside due to overflow. Loud applause and cheers of “Trump” and “USA” bellowed inside minutes before the rally began. A short lived chant of “lock her up,” also echoed in the auditorium and a lone supporter chanted “frighten that bitch.”
During the event, a protestor spoke up but was almost immediately silenced by repeated echoes of “USA.”
“Friend or foe?” Trump asked. Without an answer, he told the crowd “Get them out of here.”
When Trump began to assert that the U.S. military was “depleted,” a small group of anti-war protestors turned their back to Trump midway through his speech. The group was quietly removed from the auditorium, holding peace signs above their head as guards escorted them outside. – Developing story.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Briar Woods High School, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
- Judge Advances Suit Over Political Imbroglio
- Obama Urges GOP Lawmakers |to Abandon Trump as ‘Unfit’