Video: Donald Trump calls 9/11 'worse than Pearl Harbor'
Donald Trump took aim at his opponents and policy concerns during his address to supporters at the Macon Coliseum on Monday night.
Speaking to an estimated crowd of about 6,000, according to the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate was pointed in his remarks about various contenders from both major parties.
"We can't afford to be so nice, folks," he said.
Hillary Clinton, a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, drew some early jabs from Trump. He said Clinton, a former secretary of state and the wife of former President Bill Clinton, has done a "lousy job" in her campaign and will be best known for her ability to avoid charges in the email scandal that surfaced during hearings about the Benghazi attack.
"She doesn't have the strength or stamina to be president," he said.
Another candidate in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders, also was on Trump's radar Monday. Sanders had elective hernia surgery earlier in the day.
"May he rest in peace. You know he had an operation today," Trump said. "You know why? Carrying too many tax problems."
He also criticized fellow Republican candidates, such as John Kasich, whom Trump accused of using "snippets" of his talks to attack him.
"If somebody hits me, I'm going to hit him back so hard," Trump said. "Which is what we should be doing to ISIS and everybody else."
Trump called the current administration's handling of situations overseas "stupid," pointing to times when the United States has armed entities in the Middle East, only to have those groups turn out to be the enemy.
"This stuff isn't going to happen if Trump gets there," he said.
That was all part of a larger critique of President Barack Obama's two terms in office.
"The man has been a horrible president. He's been horrible," Trump said.
Specifically, Trump said the Affordable Care Act -- often referred to as Obamacare -- had not been effective. While Trump conceded that sick and less fortunate Americans need health care, the controversial candidate said he had a better plan than the ACA, although he didn't offer details Monday.
"We have to get better health care. Obamacare is a disaster," he said. "Obamacare is going to get repealed, and we're going to replace it with something better."
He also addressed immigration, both proposing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border -- which Mexico would pay for, he said -- and building "safe zones" for refugees in their own countries. Trump said that solution would be favorable because people want to live in their home countries long term.
"Their big ambition is to make money here and go back home," he said. "And I understand that."
Trump also spent a good portion of his talk discussing his success in the polls. He pointed to Florida and South Carolina, where he topped former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, a U.S. senator from South Carolina, in polls in their home states.
"I've spent less money on my campaign, and I'm in first in every poll," he said. "Wouldn't it be nice if our country did the same thing?"
David and Tracy Sweet, a married couple from Atlanta who described themselves as Republican-leaning independents, both called Trump's speech "very inspiring."
"I just feel like he'll do what he says, and that's something that's missing in politics right now," David Sweet said.
Tracy Sweet said Trump "can't be bothered by anybody."
"I'm so tired of politicians that say they're going to do something, and then they get to Washington and they don't do anything, or they do the opposite," she said. "So, he seems like he'd be true to his word."
Tracy Sweet also said Trump hit the right notes on issues she cares about.
"I'm very concerned about immigration and the debt and all that, and he's addressing all that," she said.
Tripp Seda, a 25-year-old Republican from Milner, said he was impressed that Trump could talk so long without a teleprompter. His speech lasted about an hour and 10 minutes.
"It was really neat to see that many people from so many backgrounds coming out to support somebody like that," Seda said. "He seems personable, and he didn't seem like he was trying to be anybody but himself. I did think he swore a little -- that I did not think was quite appropriate -- but that's about the only thing I didn't care for, especially with my grandmother there."
Herman Cain, who ran for the same office in 2012, spoke ahead of Trump's arrival. He said he accepted the billionaire businessman's invitation to Macon because of the leadership Trump could bring to the nation's capital, taking a jab at Obama in the process.
"The only way we are going to get back on track is we have got to have the right leader in the White House," Cain said. "Unfortunately, right now, we don't have a leader in the White House."
That statement drew loud approval from the thousands who were already in the venue a half-hour before Trump was scheduled to take the stage.
Griffin resident Joseph Standridge, 17, will be eligible to vote for the first time in the 2016 election, and he said Monday's event was a chance to "be more informed" about his vote. Wearing a red hat supporting Trump, Standridge said he was drawn to the rally because of the candidate's candor.
"I just really wanted to come down and see what it's all about," Standridge said. "He just says what's on his mind."
That blunt nature is a result of Trump coming from the business sector instead of the political arena, some supporters said. As a result, he isn't tied to special interest groups, said 67-year-old Macon resident Thomas McBride.
"I think Donald Trump, he's not beholden to the lobbyists, so I honestly believe he'll tell the truth," McBride said. "He'll unify the nation."
That theme continued throughout Trump's speech. He said he had encountered people across the country, some of whom traditionally voted Democrat, who wanted to talk to him about his ideas.
"We're going to rebuild this country," he said. "We're going to make it better than it's ever been before."
Adelia Henderson and Mitch Jaugstetter, students from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, contributed to this report. To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter@MTJTimm.