Donald Trump calls for strong border, energy independence during Iowa town hall

Former President Donald Trump (R) answers questions Wednesday at an Iowa town hall, moderated by Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier (C) and Martha MacCallum (L), in the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, where he called for a strong border, "peace through strength" and energy independence during a second term. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/
1 of 2 | Former President Donald Trump (R) answers questions Wednesday at an Iowa town hall, moderated by Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier (C) and Martha MacCallum (L), in the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, where he called for a strong border, "peace through strength" and energy independence during a second term. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump was in Iowa on Wednesday night to participate in a town hall, where he laid out his priorities for a second term, calling for a strong border, "peace through strength" and energy independence as his opponents debated each other across town.

The Fox News town hall, moderated by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, was filled with Iowa Republican voters -- decided and undecided -- who asked questions just days before Monday's state caucus.


To start the night, Trump responded to a question about the changing dynamics in the race for the Republican presidential nomination after former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Wednesday that he was dropping out.

"The biggest story wasn't the fact that he dropped out. Nobody cared too much about that," Trump said, referring to a hot mic moment where Christie was overheard saying former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is "going to get smoked." Trump said he is not worried which candidate Christie's voters will turn to, saying based on the polls, "I think we'll win substantially."


Another town hall question raised concerns about the potential chaos of another Trump presidency, which President Joe Biden has referred to in recent speeches.

"They have chaos now. They have chaos at the border. The border is a disaster, the worst border in history." Trump responded. "All of the chaos is caused by the Democrats constantly going after me."

"I have no wars. I am the only president in 70 years who had no wars," Trump added. "The new narrative is I'm going to be a dictator. That's the only thing Biden can run on."

"I will be a dictator on only two things: the border and on energy independence. After that, I am not going to be a dictator," Trump said, adding that his priorities for a second term would be to cut gas prices and finish the border wall.

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

Throughout the town hall, Trump repeatedly touted his economic accomplishments during his four years in office.

"We had the greatest economy in history. We had no inflation. We were energy independent before COVID. We had an incredible four years," Trump said, adding that the Biden administration is piling on indictments because Trump claims the president can not run on his own record.


"It's a witch hunt, it's election interference by Biden because he can't win an election fair and square," Trump argued. "I'm leading Biden in every single poll. I'm leading in Michigan by 11 because of Biden's mandate for electric cars."

Trump warned that if he does not win re-election in November, there would be a stock market crash. Baier quickly followed up by asking Trump if he was rooting for an economic crash.

"No. I think this. I think the economy is horrible, except the stock market is going up, and I think the stock market is going up because I'm leading Biden in all of the polls," Trump responded.

When the conversation turned to abortion, Trump touted the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe vs. Wade as he also promised concessions on the controversial issue.

"For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe vs. Wade terminated, and we did it," Trump said, while adding "we're living in a time where there has to be a concession one way or the other."

"I happen to be for the exceptions -- like the life of the mother, rape, incest," he said. "But you also have to win elections and they've used this and a lot of Republicans have been decimated in the election."


"This has been tearing our country apart for 50 years," Trump said, as he promised to come up with a plan that addresses both sides of the abortion issue.

"You also have to compromise to win elections," he added. "We're not the radicals. They're the radicals because they're willing to kill a baby in the eight month and the ninth month."

On the topic of Russia's war in Ukraine and Israel's war against Hamas, Trump promised he would get the United States out of current wars and prevent future wars using "peace through strength."

"We're in countries that don't even want us," as he called the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan "embarrassing."

"Getting along with people with hundreds of nuclear weapons is not a bad thing. Peace through strength," Trump argued, as he claimed Russia's war in Ukraine and Hamas' attack on Israel would never have happened if he were president.

"They see a weak president in our country and they did something that was unthinkable," Trump said. "So we're going to have peace through strength. We're not going to have to fight."

While Trump's opponents for the Republican presidential nomination were in Des Moines for one final debate, days before Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus, Trump chose not to participate Wednesday night. It is the fifth time Trump has skipped a Republican debate.


Haley, who is also the former governor of South Carolina, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were the only other candidates, besides Trump, to meet the 10% polling requirements for Wednesday's Iowa debate, as Christie announced he would end his campaign.

Trump has defended his decision to skip the debates and suggested the other candidates should rally behind him to unseat Biden in the November presidential election. While Trump currently holds a significant lead over Haley and DeSantis in most polls, Haley has trimmed Trump's lead in New Hampshire to 7%, according to this week's CNN poll, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

During his town hall, Trump predicted De Santis would be "out of the race soon." Trump also hinted that he knows who his vice president "will be" when he "wins the Republican nomination," but would not elaborate.

In the last few days before Iowa's GOP caucus, Trump plans to hold two campaign appearances in the state on Saturday and two events on Sunday.

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