COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The "lock her up" chants, a fan favorite among Republicans since the GOP convention last week, began about 45 minutes into Donald Trump's speech here Friday.
But instead of issuing his stock response to the refrain he issued during his acceptance speech — tamping it down with a call to defeat Hillary Clinton in November — the GOP presidential candidate told supporters he's starting to agree with calls for his Democratic rival's incarceration.
"I've been nice," Trump said. But, he added, after the "lies" of Clinton's convention speech Thursday night, "I don't have to be so nice anymore. I'm taking the gloves off."
With his declaration of "no more Mr. Nice Guy," Trump seemed to signal a new phase in this already-chippy presidential campaign.
In his first public appearance since the close of the Democratic convention, Trump unleashed fresh jabs at Clinton. He called her Thursday night speech, in which she became the first woman to accept a major-party presidential nomination, "so average." He delighted in newly released television ratings that found the viewership for his nomination acceptance speech was higher than Clinton's.
Trump's jabs truly began earlier in the day, when he took to Twitter to blast media coverage of the Democratic National Convention and mock Clinton.
Trump not only took issue with the content of Clinton's convention speech Thursday night, in which she directly called on voters to rebuke Trump's vision of a diminishing United States, but he also mocked the way she delivered her speech. He called her speaking style "a very average scream."
His tweet: "Crooked Hillary Clinton made up facts about me, and 'forgot' to mention the many problems of our country, in her very average scream!"
And another: "The media coverage this morning of the very average Clinton speech and Convention is a joke. @CNN and the little watched @Morning_Joe = SAD!"
Trump also targeted several individuals who spoke at the convention, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Marine Gen. John Allen, both of whom spoke very critically of Trump during their speeches.
Attendees at the afternoon rally, held in an auditorium at the University of Colorado's campus in Colorado Springs, said they want to see Trump continue his brash, unpredictable persona in the general.
"Let Trump be Trump!" said Kathy Schegel, a 58-year-old from Elbert County, northeast of Colorado Springs.
Ernie Albertsen, a retired general contractor from Colorado Springs, said he appreciated Trump's "realism," particularly when he accepted the GOP nomination in Cleveland last week.
"The way he comes off is off-the-cuff and as a true American," he said.
Albertsen, a longtime Republican, was unimpressed with the Democrats' confab this week, dismissing the speakers as "barking like rabid dogs."
His wife, Jeanne Noel, an independent who is voting for Trump, said she's bracing for a close election after watching Clinton's nomination this week.