Business mogul Donald Trump's offensive on retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has begun. After polls this week showed that Carson has overtaken Trump in Iowa, Trump put a new target in his sights.
Trump mocked the news media for giving so much attention to the changing polls and then imitated an anchorman's voice in delivering the news about them at a rally in Doral, Florida.
"We informed Ben, but he was sleeping," Trump said. He later trotted out a familiar insult, saying that Carson possessed "super low energy" compared to fellow GOP rival former Florida governor Jeb Bush. And for good measure, he added that Carson couldn't get jobs back from China the way he could.
It was unusual to see Trump go after a candidate who had not been openly attacking him on the trail. Just a few weeks ago in Atlanta, Trump said in a press conference, "I will tell you I'm ready to hit whenever they hit. I'm a counter-puncher." Friday evening, he was the puncher.
Trump made his first campaign stop in Florida on Friday to give a speech at the Donald J. Trump Ballroom, located on a massive luxury resort also named for him - the Trump National Doral Miami. This was his first campaign stop in Florida and chants of "U-S-A" and "We want Trump!" rang out amidst the lush palm trees and perfectly manicured greens surrounding the ballroom. One man walked through the room with an oboe, playing "When The Saints Go Marching In." Another man carried a sign that said "Gays For Trump!"
But the speech had its detractors. Trump was interrupted at least four times by protesters unhappy with his comments on undocumented immigrants.
Trump had come to Miami-Dade county to try to invade turf that typically belongs to fellow GOP candidates former Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has also been seeing a bump up in polling.
Doral is just outside of Miami but in Miami-Dade County. More than two-thirds of Miami-Dade residents are Hispanic, according to U.S. Census data. This is much higher in proportion than the rest of the state, considering that only a quarter of Florida's residents are Hispanic. Miami-Dade county is also home to nearly half the country's Cuban population. Trump showed that he was acutely aware of the demographics of the area.
"In this group, I wasn't so sure I should be talking about walls," Trump said "Tomorrow, in Jacksonville, I can talk about walls."
That didn't stop him though.
"We will build a wall!" Trump exclaimed to the cheering crowd of thousands. The ballroom wasn't completely filled to its capacity of 5,000, as he claimed - a little under half the room was empty.
One Hispanic woman, 72-year-old Marcela Masters, held up a sign of Trump carrying the Statue of Liberty. Above it, the sign said "Vote Trump to SAVE America!" She said she immigrated legally from South America forty years ago, but declined to say what part. She also said that she didn't know much about Trump's immigration policies, but that she was here "for the man."
"I think we have lost hope," Masters said. "I am an immigrant. I went to school. I learned English. Sometimes, I had three jobs. I came out ahead because American people gave me a hand. That way I can help my family with income."
When asked whether she thought Trump's comments on immigrants were offensive, she said, "Nobody's perfect."
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos announced before the event started that the Spanish-language channel had been denied credentials to cover the event today. Ramos got into a memorable spat with Trump in August at a press conference in Iowa in which Trump had him removed from the room. The campaign eventually allowed him back in, and the two had a lengthy back-and-forth over Trump's immigration plan.
The campaign issued a statement saying "Mr. Trump is suing Univision for $500 million and until that is resolved it is a conflict of interest."
The dispute stems from the summer, when Trump alleged that Univision breached its contract after the channel refused to air the Miss Universe pageant because of Trump's inflammatory comments about undocumented immigrants.
Trump also spoke at great length about his disavowing of various Super PACs in his name. He touted a letter that his campaign sent out to nine Trump-aligned Super PACs asking them to shut down and to refund all donations.
"I don't want any of them," Trump said. "I don't want their money. I don't want anything."
Trump went on.
"I think every candidate right now running for the presidency should disavow their super PACs."
Carlos Naranjo, a 72-year-old lifelong Miami resident, came to the United States from Cuba with his mother when he was just three. He considered himself a Trump supporter and wasn't dismayed by his remarks towards Hispanics.
"He's saying all that we want to hear," Naranjo said. "We're fed up about everything. I'm fed up with lies. I love this country so much just like he does."
Naranjo said he would support Trump over Rubio because Rubio "flip-flopped too much." When pressed on the number of positions that Trump has switched over the years, Naranjo said, "Of course, I understand. But very little in comparison to Rubio."
A recent University of North Florida poll shows Trump still on top in Florida, but barely. Trump clocked in at 21.7 percent, but Carson is within the margin of error, at 19.3 percent. Rubio and Bush round out the top four at 15 percent and 9 percent respectively.