CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — Donald Trump, the billionaire who until now hasn't had to spend much of his own money to run for president, has made the influence of money in politics a theme of his campaign. He has suggested his Republican rivals are "puppets" for seeking the support of GOP donors like the Koch brothers. And he has defended his own contributions to both Republican and Democratic politicians as the cost of doing business in a world in which officeholders can be bought and paid for.
Here in Iowa Saturday, Trump made his most blunt condemnation yet of what he says is the corrupting influence of money in politics. As a businessman, Trump explained, "I've got to give to them, because when I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass." And that includes, he said, the Republicans who are running against Trump in the GOP presidential race.
"These politicians, they're so bad," Trump told a full house at the historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake:
You know, it's interesting. I was looking at the ones I'm running against. I've contributed to most of them -- can you believe it? I've contributed to most of them. And one of them said, No, I don't think you've contributed to me. They found out I did. I contribute to everybody. I've given to Democrats. I've given to Hillary. I've given to everybody, because that was my job. I've got to give to them. because when I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. It's true. They kiss my ass. It's true.