'I'd like to punch him in the face': Trump on protester

US-DONALD-TRUMP-HOLDS-CAMPAIGN-RALLY-IN-LAS-VEGAS,-DAY-AHEAD-OF- Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Las Vegas on February 22 | AFP
  • You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher—Donald Trump

In another round of controversial remarks, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he wanted to "punch" a protester in the face after the heckler was ejected from a campaign event in Las Vegas.

Trump, known for making controversial comments, also did not spare his nearest Republican rival Ted Cruz, calling him "sick" at the campaign rally ahead of the Nevada primary.

The protester—the third one to interrupt him at the event and who Trump claimed had thrown punches at security guards—drew the candidate's ire.

As the man was being escorted away, Trump repeatedly told the crowd that he wished for the "old days", adding, "You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher."

"I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya," the 69-year-old was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

Trump has faced criticism over his response to protesters before as well.

After a Black Lives Matter demonstrator was pushed to the ground at one of his events in November, Trump said in an interview after the episode that "maybe he should have been roughed up" before later pulling back from his comments.

But in Las Vegas, he held nothing back, and the crowd of thousands met every one of his lines with cheers.

Addressing another protester, a man holding a sign that read, 'Veterans to Trump: End Hate Speech Against Muslims', Trump repeatedly said, "Get him the hell out" as the crowd booed the man's exit.

Trump did not limit his rough talk to protesters at the rally on Monday.

Referring to the Iranians who took 10 Navy sailors hostage in January, Trump said the leader of the Iranians was a "rough guy with a rough mouth. I'd like to smack the hell out of him."

He also repeatedly belittled Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who was vilified by some as a deserter after his release by the Taliban in a prisoner swap in 2014.

"I think they slapped him around pretty good," Trump said, referring to the soldier's time in captivity.

Pointing to his many victories in the presidential race, Trump said that he was winning the support of evangelicals over his rival Cruz because the Texas Senator was a "liar" and evangelical voters "don't like liars".

"This guy is sick," Trump said of Cruz, adding that, "There's something wrong with this guy". He also made sure to remind his supporters about the importance of "voting".

"Don't make me have a miserable evening," he said.

During his campaign, Trump has also called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, triggering sharp reaction from across the world.

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