Washington: With his poll numbers soaring, Donald Trump mocked pollsters, pundits and his rivals saying those who once called him a "clown" are now wondering "how are we going to stop this guy."
"I hear they're all going after me," during Wednesday night's CNN Republican presidential debate, the Republican frontrunner told thousands of roaring fans at a sports arena in Dallas, Texas Monday.
When he launched his White House bid earlier in the summer, the conventional wisdom in Washington was that the campaign would soon fizzle, the real estate mogul recalled.
"All these geniuses. All these talking heads," he said. "One person-a real loser - said 'he's a clown.' Now they are saying - how are we going to stop this guy? I haven't heard the word clown in a while."
Trump claimed that he was leading all the opinion polls because people had latched on to his vow to make America great again.
"The polls come out - and we are really killing it. We are really killing it," he said.
The voters whom he called the "silent majority"- borrowing a phrase from president Richard Nixon - were finally making their voices heard. "It is not silent. I think they should call it the noisy, the aggressive majority, the wanting to win majority!" he said.
Lashing out again at illegal immigrants, Trump said the US is "a dumping ground for the rest of the world."
Despite calls from Republican officials to tone down his rhetoric, Trump decried "anchor babies" - children of illegal immigrants born in US who automatically get US citizenship - and gang members among the immigrants living in the US illegally, drawing huge ovations from a rowdy audience.
Taking a shot at the troubled campaign of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Trump said: "Hillary's not surging."
Clinton, in turn, said she has been "watching (Trump)…. and what he has said has been “really inflammatory and destructive."
"He has made a lot of claims, and I think it may reflect on the Republican side some of the pent-up frustration that they have," she said in an interview with Extra, an American entertainment television news programme, posted Monday.
She said the idea of picking her husband - former President Bill Clinton - as vice president had "crossed her mind," but has been advised it would be unconstitutional.
"He would be good, but he's not eligible, under the Constitution. He has served his two terms and I think the argument would be as vice president it would not be possible for him to ever succeed to the position - at least that's what I've been told," she joked.