WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump escalated his tirade on Ben Carson, comparing his leading rival to a child molester and suggesting Iowa voters are "stupid" for supporting some of Carson's claims.
The barrage of insults come as Trump and Carson are running in national polls with an average .4 spread between them in Trump's favor. A recent NBC poll has Carson running 6 percentage points ahead of Trump. Another by Investor's Business Daily has Trump leading by 5 points.
Trump's rants began during a CNN interview when discussing Carson's autobiography "Gifted Hands," saying Carson's self-described "pathological temper" is "a big problem, because you don't cure that."
In his 1990 book, Carson attributed his violent youth to a "pathological temper" that caused him to hit a friend with a rock and attempt to stab another, but the blow was blocked by the victim's belt buckle. Carson has used the stories to demonstrate how he overcame his hard-scrabbled life to become a successful neurosurgeon. In recent days, Carson has been clarifying and correcting his recollection of events.
"You don't cure these people. You don't cure a child molester. There's no cure for it. Pathological, there's no cure for that," he told CNN's Erin Burnett.
Carson's campaign responded to Trump's comments, calling him bitter and "rambling."
Later the same day, Trump went on an unfettered 95-minute rant before a crowd of about 1,500 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, a small town northwest of Des Moines. He said he would "bomb the [expletive]" out of the Islamic State militant group and mocked Iowa voters who supported Carson, underscoring he doesn't believe Carson's found God to overcome his violent temper after a few hours of reflection. He went on to question Carson's belt-buckle story, moving his belt up and down to demonstrate how Carson's story may have been fabricated.
"How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?," he said. "He goes into the bathroom for a couple of hours and he comes out and now he's religious. And the people of Iowa believe him. Give me a break. Give me a break. It doesn't happen that way. It doesn't happen that way. Don't be fools, okay?"
Thursday, President Barack Obama said Trump's proposed forced deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants is unrealistic and "not who we are as Americans." Obama said Americans have been attracted to Trump's rhetoric because "there has always been a strain of anti-immigration sentiment in America -- ironically from folks who themselves two generations back or even one generation back were immigrants themselves."
"It's the job of leaders not to play into that sentiment," he said. "We don't want, I think, a president or any person in a position of leadership to play on those kinds of fears."