SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump bragged about his high standing in the polls, slammed super political action committees and dismissed rivals Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in a campaign stop Saturday in their home state of Florida.
Speaking before thousands who jammed into the Robarts Arena in Sarasota, Trump said he's "killing everybody" in polls nationally and in early voting states.
He called super PACS "a scam" because the millions of dollars raised are going to high-priced consultants and advisers, and are making candidates beholden to big donors.
He criticized Rubio, Florida's junior senator, as "weak" on illegal immigration and said his constituents should be angry with him because Rubio has missed so many Senate votes.
"I'm leading in Florida against a sitting senator," Trump boasted.
The crowd roared and chanted "Trump, Trump, Trump."
The billionaire businessman said he doesn't even talk about Bush anymore because the former Florida governor is struggling to gain his footing in the polls. But he called Bush's support for Common Core education standards unacceptable.
"Common Core — out," Trump said, if he's elected.
So many people lined up to hear Trump that he held a second rally outside for about 1,000 people who could not get into the arena. He then departed in the Trump helicopter.
Asked why he supports Trump, Justo Lopez said he wanted "to get rid of the establishment and elect a real Republican."
Others were curious to learn more.
"I had never heard him speak in public before and wanted to hear what he had to say," said Lenny Fike, of Bradenton, who says he's undecided but leaning toward Trump.
But Fike, a Republican, said he would not vote for Trump if he chooses to run as an independent candidate.
"I just don't want to see another Democrat in the White House," he said.
Not everyone was a Trump fan.
A couple dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the arena to denounce Trump.
"We reject his racist message and the other Republicans need to reject it, too," said Junior Salazar, who led demonstrators chanting "dump Trump."