Donald Trump escalated his attack on Apple on the final day of campaigning before the Republican primary in South Carolina, calling for a boycott until CEO Tim Cook honors a court order to unlock a terrorist's iPhone.
"Boycott Apple until they give up the information," Mr. Trump said at a rally in Pawleys Island, S.C. "The phone is owned by the government... Tim Cook is looking to do a big number probably to show how liberal he is. Apple should give up."
The billionaire's call to action followed an interview with Bloomberg in which he offered harsh words for Mr. Cook.
"Tim Cook is living in the world of the make believe," Mr. Trump said Friday in a telephone interview. "I would come down so hard on him -- you have no idea -- his head would be spinning all of the way back to Silicon Valley."
In a poll currently running on AdAge.com, 73% of the over 1,000 who've responded so far are siding with Apple over the government.
Apple's fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to mobile devices escalated this week when a court ordered the company to help federal law enforcement officers unlock a phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in a deadly Dec. 2 attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
In an open letter posted on the company's website, Mr. Cook described the request as an "unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers" and called for a public debate. The company vowed to fight the order.
Several Silicon Valley companies, including executives from Google and Twitter, rallied to Apple's side. Reform Government Surveillance, a group representing companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft Corp. and Twitter Inc., issued a statement on Wednesday reiterating that, while it's "extremely important" to deter crime and terrorism, no company should be required to build backdoors to their own technology.
"I think Tim Cook is totally out of line and I think the government should come down on Tim Cook very, very hard," Mr. Trump said in the interview Friday. "I think it's a disgrace what he is doing, we're talking about lives, potentially thousands of lives, and we should find out who else was involved in the plot where 14 people were killed."
Mr. Trump, the Republican frontrunner, had previously told Fox News that he agreed "100% with the courts."
-- Bloomberg News