Donald Trump, lashing back at Barack Obama after the president waded forcefully into the presidential campaign, on Wednesday said Obama “doesn’t have a clue” and threatened to turn his attacks on him in retaliation.
“This is a president who doesn’t have a clue,” Trump told supporters in Sacramento. “If he campaigns, that means I’m allowed to hit him, just like I hit Bill Clinton.”
Trump’s remarks followed an appearance by Obama in Elkhart, Ind., on Wednesday, where the president warned against the Republican Party’s economic policies and said the GOP was misleading Americans on the condition of the economy.
Rallying supporters at a hangar at Sacramento International Jet Center, Trump said foreign leaders view Obama as a “total lightweight,” and he said Obama should not involve himself in the campaign.
“He shouldn’t campaign,” Trump said. “He should go out and do the job that he’s supposed to be doing.”
Trump has previously criticized Obama, at times harshly. But with the likelihood that he will face Hillary Clinton in November – and facing criticism over his own derogatory remarks about women – Trump has been particularly critical of Bill Clinton. Trump has repeatedly raised the former president’s record of infidelity and accusations of mistreatment of women, calling Hillary Clinton an “enabler.”
In sweltering heat on Wednesday, Trump said of the Clintons, “These are crooked people.”
Speaking to roaring supporters after descending from his airplane in front of them, Trump repeated his assertion that he will compete in the general election in California, a state that is so Democratic no Republican presidential candidate has won since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Trump said he is “sort of different” than other Republicans and that he is going to “make a real run in California.”
Trump also said he was told there were 11,000 people in the hangar. An airport official said he was advised the crowd was considerably smaller, numbering about 2,500.
Still, traffic to the rally slowed northbound lanes of Interstate 5 on Wednesday afternoon, and a long line of Donald Trump supporters traded barbs with protesters before the event.
Amid stands of memorabilia and a giant inflatable red Trump hat outside the airport hangar, a band of protesters worked a line of Trump supporters waiting to get into the rally, comparing Trump to Hitler.
A man in a firefighter shirt followed the protesters as they walked, shouting in the 97-degree heat that he served in Vietnam.
In response to chants of “Burn the wall!” and “Trump is a fascist!” a Trump supported yelled, “Take a shower!”
Trump’s campaigning in the state comes as Hillary Clinton prepares to touch down in California on Thursday. Her campaign said she will deliver an address in San Diego warning of a “threat that Donald Trump would pose to our national security” and to outline her own national security positions.
At an event in New Jersey on Wednesday, Clinton seized on the release of court documents critical of Trump University, claiming the university preyed on vulnerable people and engaged in fraudulent business practices.
“This is just more evidence that Donald Trump himself is a fraud,” Clinton said. “He is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.”
Following a divisive primary, a Field Poll released Wednesday suggests that Trump is making inroads with Republican voters previously wary of his candidacy. Trump’s image rating among likely Republican voters ticked up 7 percentage points from April, to 60 percent favorable. Still, just 60 percent of likely Republican voters in the state say they plan to vote for Trump, according to the poll.
Outside the Sacramento rally, Jennifer Austin, a 49-year-old from Roseville, said she has never voted for president but supports Trump because he “speaks the truth.”
“He’s for America,” she said.
Jake Houshmand, a 23-year-old student from Marysville, is supporting Bernie Sanders but came to the event because “I wanted to see the spectacle.”
“It’s on the hostile side,” he said, while adding, “I haven’t seen any altercations.”