NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) -- Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump lashed out at rivals and complained about mistreatment by the media on Wednesday, apparently stung by a rash of criticism about his comments on immigration and women.
It's not like the other Republican candidates particularly like each other, Trump groused. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush "hate each other, but they can't say it," he added. "I'm so tired of this politically correct crap."
Eclipsed this week by Pope Francis' tour of the U.S., the billionaire developer and former reality star spent his day slinging insults.
He tweeted Wednesday that he's boycotting Fox News, even though the network said officials there had canceled a Trump appearance first. Trump also complained that rival Rubio has gotten too much attention for gaining on Bush in some polls of Republican primary voters. And he said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul should drop out of the race because of his low showing in the polls.
Trump still leads most polls for the 2016 Republican nomination less than five months before voting begins with the Iowa caucuses.
"The polls are through the roof," he told a session of South Carolina's African-American Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Charleston Business Alliance, another group of black business leaders.
However, there were signs that things aren't so great for the billionaire developer so far this week.
His appearance in South Carolina was billed as an opportunity for him to address minority business owners. But Trump's white supporters who bought tickets to the event comprised most of the audience, and Trump made only a few mentions of the black business community, at one point saying: "I have a lot of friends who are African-Americans."
Trump spoke in South Carolina a few hours after tweeting that he is boycotting Fox News. A Fox spokeswoman said Trump's announcement came after the channel canceled a scheduled Trump appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday. Trump has been feuding with Fox since the first Republican primary debate, when he objected to moderater Megyn Kelly pressing him to explain incendiary comments he's made about women.
In North Charleston, the candidate didn't specifically mention his ongoing spat with Fox News, instead weaving meandering attacks on the media and his opponents together with his usual promises to make the nation "great" and "rich" once again. He continued his attacks later Wednesday in Columbia, South Carolina, with barbs aimed at Kentucky's Paul, among others.
The front-runner's griping comes as some of Trump's rivals have surged, including former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who impressed many viewers with her performance during the second Republican primary debate.
Many of his rivals emerged from that debate newly confident that they could take him on by focusing on more substantive policy issues, which Trump has often avoided. Still, Trump demonstrates considerable strength on the campaign trail. After speaking before a few hundred empty seats in North Charleston, he drew more than 1,000 people to a Columbia town hall hosted by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.
At the North Charleston event, Trump cast Fiorina -- another "outsider" candidate trying to appeal to anti-establishment Republicans -- as another politician looking for donors who will ultimately control her.
"Carly is out there fighting to raise money," he said. "She doesn't want to spend her own money. Maybe she doesn't have it."
Fiorina suggested Tuesday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that she is making Trump "nervous."
Trump called Marco Rubio a "nice guy" but mocked the Florida senator and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for sweating profusely during the Reagan library debate. Rubio was "drenched" afterward, Trump said.
"That room was 100 degrees. That room was hot. I mean poor Chris Christie," Trump said. "He's a nice guy; it wasn't fair."
Trump even saved some arrows for Democratic front-runner former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, repeating his assertion that she, during the 2008 presidential campaign, started the discredited "birther" movement whose members falsely claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. There's been no evidence tracing the charge to Clinton or her campaign.
In an interview on The Tom Joyner Radio Show earlier Wednesday, Clinton called Trump's assertion that she started the birther claims "ludicrous." She told guest host Don Lemon: "You know, I have been blamed for nearly everything. That was a new one to me."
Colvin reported from Newark, New Jersey.
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