Donald Trump responded Thursday to scorching attacks by President Obama and others at the Democratic convention by saying they were "not talking about the real world" of Islamic terrorism, unchecked illegal immigration, rampant crime, a depleted military and U.S. jobs "pouring into Mexico."
"Boy, am I getting hit," the Republican presidential nominee complained to supporters at a rally in Davenport, Iowa.
Trump denied accusations that he'd outlined a dark vision of America last week at the GOP convention in Cleveland, saying he had offered a "very optimistic" prescription for overcoming the nation's troubles.
The normally unbridled New York businessman was relatively subdued at the first of two Iowa campaign stops. He said he'd resisted the temptation to respond "viciously" to those attacking him at the Democratic gathering this week in Philadelphia.
"I was going to hit one guy in particular — a very little guy," he said in an apparent reference to Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and political independent who branded Trump a "con" in a speech to Democratic delegates on Wednesday. "I was going to hit this guy so hard, his head would spin. He wouldn't know what the hell happened."
Trump said he was heeding an unnamed governor's advice to stay focused on attacking Hillary Clinton.
"I was going to hit a number of those speakers so hard, their heads would spin," he said. "They'd never recover. That's why I still don't have certain people endorsing me. They still haven't recovered."
Trump's restraint came a day after he sparked controversy by inviting Russian cyberhackers to unearth more than 30,000 deleted emails from when Clinton was secretary of State. Critics accused him of borderline treason for encouraging a foreign adversary to intrude illegally into a former Cabinet member's email.
Trump told Fox News on Thursday that his challenge to Russia was meant to be sarcastic. Undaunted by charges that he was too friendly toward President Vladimir Putin, Trump told the crowd in Davenport that the U.S. needed to improve relations with Russia.
"Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?" he said.
Trump bemoaned the U.S. fighting "politically correct wars," but the only one he specified was the Iraq war.
"We shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place," Trump said. "I was totally against being in Iraq, right from the beginning."
That statement is incorrect. In a radio interview on Sept. 11, 2002, six months before the war started, Howard Stern asked Trump whether he supported an invasion of Iraq. "Yeah, I guess so," Trump answered. "I wish the first time it was done correctly."
Trump also told the crowd that the United States was "one of the highest-taxed nation in the world." But the CIA's World Factbook ranks the United States 171st out of 219 countries in the percentage of gross domestic product spent on taxes.