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In Iowa, Trump Spins Current Events To His Point Of View


In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama never said the name Donald Trump. But parts of the speech could be seen as a response to Trump. At one point, the president dismissed those who want to, quote, "slam the brakes on change promising to restore past glory." It was a rewording of Trump's slogan, make America great again. Just before last night's speech, Trump was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Robert Siegel, co-host of NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, was with him.

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: About a thousand people packed the old West Gym on the University of Northern Iowa campus. They heard the Republican frontrunner recite a familiar litany of ways in which he says America has lost its greatness, spiced with the candidate's commentary on a few stories in the news, all of it off the cuff.


DONALD TRUMP: I'll speak to you for, like, and hour, but we speak about current events. As an example, the boats got captured.

SIEGEL: The news that 10 U.S. sailors had been taken into custody by Iran broke shortly before Donald Trump spoke. There were scant details of what had happened or how the sailors might be returned, but Trump offered this judgment.


TRUMP: This isn't the same country. When I hear that just happened - just happened - it literally just happened, and I think it's not so good. It's just - it's just an indication of where the hell we're going. I mean, hopefully they get released - and fast.

SIEGEL: Trump also commented on the investigation into the e-mails of the candidate he says he expects to run against in the fall.


TRUMP: Now, let's assume it's Hillary, even though she probably should be in prison, in all fairness.

SIEGEL: And he spoke of his immediate rival in Iowa, Ted Cruz, and his Canadian birth. Trump doesn't say that the Texas senator is constitutionally ineligible for the presidency, but he says others will.


TRUMP: The Democrats are going to bring a suit. And you can't run unless you're going to be - how can you run like that? You don't even know.

SIEGEL: Trump breezed through some familiar things - the wall he says Mexico will pay for, common core and Obamacare, which he says he'll end, his support of the ethanol fuel mandate, which benefits Iowa farms, something Trump notes that Ted Cruz is against. That was about it for policy in a 40-minute speech that included seven minutes devoted to poll results. His audience included enthusiasts, who emerged even more enthusiastic, some detractors and some undecideds, like college seniors Joel West and Kyla Salzer.

JOEL WEST: He's very charismatic. Personally, I'm undecided. I like a lot of what he has to say, but I thought his speech was a little bit thing.

KYLA SALZER: He doesn't like Obamacare. Well, what's his plan otherwise, you know? I want to know - what he doesn't like, I want to know what he's going to do to change. But he addresses the people, and I think that's very important.

SIEGEL: And his message to the people of Iowa is, if the rally crowds turn into winning caucus votes, Donald Trump says he could just run the table to the Republican nomination. In Cedar Falls, Iowa, this is Robert Siegel, NPR News.


And just a note to keep us up to date - Donald Trump mentioned Americans taken into custody by Iran. We have news today those 10 Americans have been freed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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