Donald Trump says he could 'shoot somebody' and not lose voters

Top Iowa Republican appears at Trump rally, an implicit snub of Cruz

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), left, greets presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally Saturday in Pella, Iowa. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), left, greets presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally Saturday in Pella, Iowa. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

With the Iowa caucuses just over a week away, another top Republican in the state appears to have snubbed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: Sen. Charles E. Grassley.

Grassley, who has represented Iowa in the Senate for 3 1/2 decades, showed up Saturday at a Donald Trump rally at Central College here in central Iowa. Grassley introduced the New York billionaire and repeated Trump's campaign slogan but stopped short of endorsing him.

“We have an opportunity once again to make America great again,” Grassley told Trump’s audience.

Like Iowa’s popular Republican governor, Terry Branstad, Grassley has faulted Cruz for opposing government support of ethanol, the fuel made from corn that is a major part of the state's agriculture industry.

Grassley is also expected to introduce another Republican presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, at a rally next week, according to his campaign.

Cruz, an unpopular figure among fellow Senate Republicans, told reporters Saturday that he was “a big fan of Chuck Grassley.”

“He’s a friend of mine,” Cruz said at a campaign stop in Ankeny. “He and I have worked side by side on a number of significant pieces of legislation.”

Finnegan reported from Pella and Mehta from Ankeny.

Snapshot from Scott County, Iowa, Democratic Party dinner

Glenn Beck's endorsement of Ted Cruz is mostly an attack on Donald Trump

Glenn Beck, the conservative media personality, endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid on Saturday, the only endorsement he has made during a four-decade career.

He praised the first-term Texas senator’s deep faith and consistent conservatism but spent far more time talking about Donald Trump, Cruz’s main competition when this state holds the first nomination contest in the nation Feb. 1.

“Mr. Trump is saying over and over again, ‘I will make America great again. I will make America great.’ That’s not true. It’s not even possible. Each of us as individuals living our own dreams, making our own way, charting our own course, that is what makes America great,” Beck told hundreds of people gathered in the chilly gymnasium of Faith Baptist Bible College, adding that Trump’s remarks were “arrogant” and “dangerous.”

“No, we the people will make America great," Beck said.

Beck also blistered Trump for past support of abortion, the Wall Street bailout and donations to Democrats.

“If Donald Trump wins, it’s going to be a snowball to hell,” Beck said.

Beck appeared alongside Cruz, Iowa congressman Steve King, and influential evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats. Cruz laid out seven areas where he urged caucusgoers to compare his record with that of his GOP rivals: abortion, religious liberty, guns, the Affordable Care Act, standing up to Washington, immigration and Iran policy.

He focused on policy differences among himself, Trump, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is tied for third behind the two front-runners.

“Don’t listen to any of us. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to anybody on the [debate] stage,” Cruz said. “Instead of listening to what we say, ask what we have done.”

The Des Moines Register endorses Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio

The Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest and most influential newspaper, endorsed Hillary Clinton's and Marco Rubio's presidential bids on Saturday.

Clinton, a former secretary of State who netted the paper's endorsement in her failed effort to win Iowa in 2008, faces a viable challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. 

Meanwhile, Rubio, a first-term Florida senator, has trailed billionaire businessman Donald Trump for much of this election cycle as they compete for the GOP nomination. 

Watch live: Donald Trump addresses supporters in Pella, Iowa

In a surprise visit, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa spoke ahead of Donald Trump at a rally in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday, amplifying the anti-Ted Cruz sentiment that's forming among Iowa's Republican elite:

Hillary Clinton ignores a question about a possible race against Michael Bloomberg

Word that Bloomberg is exploring an independent bid for president added a new wrinkle to a topsy-turvy race for the White House.

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, what's Bill Clinton's title?

When it comes to Bill Clinton, there are two questions that are often raised if his wife, Hillary, becomes president. What are they going to call him, and what will his role be?

A boy in the audience on Saturday asked Hillary both of those questions.

She said they’ve been collecting suggestions for names. “First Gentleman. First Dude. First Mate.”

No matter what he’s called, she said, he would have a role in her administration.

“I am really looking forward to having his advice, especially when it comes to the economy and foreign policy.”

The crowd seemed nostalgic for getting “two for one” in the White House – supporters cheered loudly.  

Live: Glenn Beck campaigns with Ted Cruz

Follow the Times' Seema Mehta on Twitter for more from the rally in Ankeny, Iowa.

Donald Trump attacks Cruz proxy Glenn Beck

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

True to form, Donald Trump minced no words as he mocked conservative media personality Glenn Beck on Saturday, calling him “a stone cold loser."

“He’s a sad sack, and he cries,” Trump told a crowd at Dordt College, a Christian school in the heart of rural evangelical northwest Iowa.

Beck was planning to campaign in Iowa on Saturday for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, now the real estate developer’s No. 1 rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump also boasted of how loyal his supporters appear to be. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” he said.

He focused frequently on Beck, though, telling the audience more than once that Beck “got fired from Fox." Beck also recently apologized for saying that Trump had voted for President Obama, which the New York billionaire has denied. 

There were other targets of Trump insults at the candidate’s campus rally in Sioux Center. Among them were Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (his ownership of the Washington Post is “a tax scam,” Trump said), Secretary of State John F. Kerry (“not street-wise”) and GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush (not just “low energy,” but also “a sad case”).

At great length, Trump trashed editors and writers at the National Review, which dedicated its latest issue to attacking him. “Mostly losers,” he said.

Reprising one of his main attacks against Cruz, Trump tried to stoke doubts about whether the senator’s birth in Canada, albeit to an American mother, might disqualify him for the presidency. “He could run for the prime minister of Canada, and I wouldn’t even complain, because he was born in Canada,” Trump said.

The Cruz campaign has tried to raise doubts among Iowa conservatives about Trump’s ideological moorings, publicizing his past support for abortion rights and the favorable remarks he has made about Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

In Sioux Center, Trump ridiculed suggestions that he used to be more liberal. “So what,” he said. “So was Ronald Reagan.”

As for Beck, he had his own stinging rebuke for Trump:

1:12 p.m.: This post was updated to add a response from Glenn Beck.

Protesters hit Ted Cruz on Iowa campaign trail

So how would Michael Bloomberg match up against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

 (Mario Tama/Getty Image)
(Mario Tama/Getty Image)

He's only mulling a presidential run, but pollsters already have weighed how former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might fare should he enter the 2016 race.

In a three-way matchup with current Democratic and Republican front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Bloomberg nets 13% support, according to a survey from the Morning Consult. Trump and Clinton receive 37% and 36%, respectively.

To be sure, polls of hypothetical matchups at this stage of a presidential race have no relationship to its eventual outcome. But Bloomberg's modicum of support is a tantalizing sign of how a third-party candidate could drastically alter a two-person campaign.

Bloomberg, who is exploring an independent bid for president and reportedly could spend nearly $1 billion of his fortune to self-fund a campaign, won much of his support from voters who aren't registered with a political party.

But one obstacle for Bloomberg, who amassed his wealth selling eponymous financial-information terminals that are ubiquitous on Wall Street, is voters' unfamiliarity with him. The Morning Consult poll showed that 43% of those surveyed had never heard of him. In addition to his three terms as mayor of New York, he’s also known for his work on gun-control issues. He’s the co-founder of Everytown for Gun Safety and has spent millions of dollars battling the National Rifle Assn.

Nearly 4,000 registered voters from around the country were interviewed for the poll from the Morning Consult, conducted Jan. 14-17, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points 

Donald Trump is happy to have Ted Cruz run another country

He could run for the prime minister of Canada, and I wouldn’t even complain, because he was born in Canada.

Donald Trump speaking of Ted Cruz at a rally Saturday at Dordt College, a Christian school in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Potential Bloomberg candidacy drops new wild card into already wild race

 (Edward Reed / Associated Press)
(Edward Reed / Associated Press)

The prospect of billionaire Michael Bloomberg launching an independent presidential bid dropped new uncertainty into an already highly unusual 2016 primary season.

The former New York City mayor has fostered presidential aspirations before. But the 73-year-old appears, like many Americans watching the raucous nominating contests, to be seeking a dose of stability in the current race. 

"His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump's dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton's stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side," according to the New York Times, which first reported the development. He would be willing to spend $1 billion from his own pocket, the story said.

Coming a week before the Iowa caucuses kick off the nominating process, Bloomberg's intentions throw new political calculations into an already topsy-turvy race.

A Bloomberg candidacy could cut several ways in a three-person race as an independent challenging the two parties' nominees.

Bloomberg's campaigns against sugar-laden soda drinks and his efforts to stem gun violence would likely attract voters who hew toward Democrats, potentially stripping votes from that party's eventual nominee. His ties to Wall Street, however, could sour some seeking more populist leadership.

At the same time, Bloomberg could also have sway with more moderate-minded Republicans who would be uncomfortable if Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas emerges as the party's nominee.

Bloomberg appears to be weighing these and other factors, according to the report, and has set a deadline for reaching a decision of early March.

He is said to be most interested in making a bid if Democrats nominate Sanders and Republicans nominate Trump or Cruz. In such a case, Bloomberg apparently believes he would draw support from moderates in both parties.

Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler welcomed a possible Bloomberg bid, saying the former mayor's controversial positions would be easy to run against.

"I don’t want to get my hopes up that the 2016 campaign could be about gun control, cap-and-trade and Big Gulps," he said. "Please, please run!"

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz attack in dueling TV ads to win over Iowa conservatives

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Donald Trump released his first television attack ad Friday as he and his chief Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, moved into direct and more hostile contention.

With the Iowa presidential caucuses just 10 days away, the New York billionaire's ad accuses Cruz of being "pro-amnesty" on illegal immigration. It shows Cruz tripping over his words as he tries to explain to Fox News why he proposed a Senate measure that would have granted legal status to millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

Trump then says immigrants are "pouring in" and "doing tremendous damage if you look at the crime, if you look at the economy."

Get to know the 2016 presidential candidates

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Just now tuning into the 2016 presidential campaign as the Iowa caucuses approach?

Learn about the candidates with this Los Angeles Times graphic highlighting those vying to become the Democratic and Republican nominee.