Trump blasts 'bedlam' of Biden admin., promises mass deportations at Iowa town hall

Fmr. president dismisses rivals, says he already knows VP pick

Former President Donald Trump attends a Fox News town hall on January 10, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump attends a Fox News town hall on January 10, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. | Screengrab/Fox News

Former President Donald Trump appeared on Fox News for the first time since 2022 for a town hall during which he expressed confidence that he will be chosen to run against President Joe Biden, whom he accused of unleashing "chaos."

Trump opened the town hall in Des Moines by indicating he believes that he will handily win the GOP primary, dismissing moderator Martha MacCallum's suggestion that former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley could give him a run for his money in New Hampshire.

Both Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who were engaged in a debate on CNN during Trump's town hall, trail Trump significantly in the polls. The former president garners 62% support among Republicans, while Haley sits at 11.4% and DeSantis at 11% as of Thursday, according to Real Clear Politics.

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"You have Democrats in New Hampshire and they vote, and you have independents in New Hampshire in large numbers and they vote," Trump said. "And I have polls that show me leading by a tremendous amount in New Hampshire, a lot in Iowa and nationwide, really by almost 60 points. So I'm not exactly worried about it."

Trump also seized the opportunity to blast Haley by commenting on former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's "hot mic" moment that leaked hours before. Christie, who suspended his campaign Wednesday, was caught saying that Haley is going to get "smoked" during the primary.

"I know [Haley] very well, and I happen to believe that Chris Christie is right," Trump said. "That's one of the few things he's been right about, actually."

Trump also spoke disparagingly of DeSantis, characterizing him as "disloyal" and claiming he would be "working in a pizza shop or perhaps a law firm" had he not supported his political career.

Trump went on to parry fears that he would bring "chaos" back to the White House by juxtaposing his administration, which he said prevailed against ISIS and saw no new wars, with the comparative chaos unleashed at home and abroad on Biden's watch.

"They have chaos at the border," Trump said. "They have chaos in the military, people are going woke. Look at today, with Hunter Biden going into Congress and just sitting down, and the bedlam that's been caused."

"Today you have chaos," he continued. "We have, I think, more with Joe Biden. He can't put two sentences together, and he's representing us on nuclear weapons with Putin and Xi and all of these very smart people."

He added that he believes much of the alleged chaos during his own administration was caused by Democrats going after him "constantly," an assertion that drew applause from the audience.

Trump also said he believes the invasions of Ukraine and Israel that have prompted two wars were able to happen because the world sees Biden as "weak," and he emphasized his belief that peace must be maintained through strength.

“You know, they want to make it like a bad thing," he said of his ability to get along with leaders of nuclear powers. "It's a very good thing. But peace through strength. They didn't want to mess around. It would have never happened in Ukraine. Russia would have never gone in, would have never happened. The recent attack on Israel would have never happened."

Trump further warned that the border crisis has grown "unsustainable" under Biden and promised to launch mass deportations of illegal immigrants if elected.

“We are going to have the largest deportation effort in the history of our country," he said. "We're bringing everybody back to where they came from. We have no choice."

Trump also said that sanctuary cities must be stopped, and explained how his native New York City especially has been feeling the brunt of the migrant crisis. He claimed Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams has grown "hostile to the administration" as his city has been overrun with illegal immigrants that are straining the city's resources.

Estimating that 15 million to 16 million illegal immigrants have surged into the country in recent years, Trump said "this country cannot sustain" such a number, and predicted that by the end of Biden's term that number will have swelled to 18 million, which he noted is larger than the populations of most states.

Trump also deflected criticism of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that he sees himself as a "federalist" and allowed state governors to decide for themselves how best to respond. He further claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci "was not a huge factor in my administration, he became a much bigger factor in Biden's administration."

Trump also boasted about his record on abortion and how Roe v. Wade was overturned because of judges he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He stopped short of endorsing a blanket ban on abortion, suggesting that supporting it in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother might be a necessary "concession" for Republicans to make if they hope to maintain power.

He speculated that DeSantis, whose poll numbers he said indicate he will be out of the race "very soon," might have suffered because of the hardline stance he took on abortion by supporting a ban after six weeks, which Trump noted is before many women know they are pregnant.

"You have to win elections," he said. "Otherwise, you’re going to be back where you were, and you can’t let that ever happen again. You got to win elections."

Trump also hinted that he has already decided on his vice presidential choice, though he was unwilling to give a name. A campaign adviser reportedly downplayed Trump's apparent certainty, telling NBC News that "nothing is finalized" and that he will "announce his final pick when he’s ready to."

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