Donald Trump, down to Sen. Ted Cruz in two new polls in Iowa, is showing signs he fears he might lose there, The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson writes.
Johnson covered Trump's campaign rally in Des Moines on Friday and noted six observations she believes show he is worried he might not have the most votes:
• He slammed a poll not yet released. "Every time the Des Moines Register does a poll, I always do badly," Trump said, miming some of the votes being put into his pocket. "'Now, I don't know that they do that. Do you do that Des Moines Register?"
• He attacked Cruz. The two have been cordial to each other, but Trump on Friday suggested Cruz's opposition to continuing ethanol subsidies might be fueled by ties to oil companies in his home state of Texas.
• He calls himself an evangelical now. Iowa has a strong evangelical constituency, and Trump was quick to note, "I am an evangelical. I'm a Christian. I'm a Presbyterian." Meanwhile, he questioned the evangelical bona fides of Cruz, the son of a Cuban exile who is now a church pastor. "I do like Ted Cruz – but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness," Trump said.
• There were empty chairs at the rally. Trump has made several appearances in Iowa, so most people who want to see him might already have done so, Johnson admitted. Still, it was his first rally since calling for a temporary ban on all Muslims, which had actually boosted his national ratings.
• He backtracked on calling Iowans "stupid." After asking Iowans "What the hell are you people doing to me?" and "How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?" when Ben Carson briefly bested him in the polls there, Trump said on Friday he had been "trying to make a point" and that the media had twisted his words.
• He noted that Iowa is "very, very, very important." Every state is vital, Trump told the crowd, because if he comes up just short in a brokered convention, the establishment will use it to keep him from being the nominee. But with an overwhelming victory, "there's not a thing that they can do."
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