Chris Honoré: Deconstructing a Trump rally
On March 10, Donald Trump traveled to Moon Township in Pennsylvania to deliver a speech in support of Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Saccone’s opponent was Conor Lamb, a Democrat. This is a district that Trump won by 20 points in the 2016 election.
After watching the speech, it was clear that the venue, with a stadium-size audience, holding familiar signs, was a political rally, not intended for Saccone, but for Trump. It was déjà vu all over again.
From the outset, it was a Trump-centered tour de force of free association. Below are some highlights, as close to verbatim as I can make them, some in quotation marks, other paraphrased.
Trump began by saying that the recent South Korean Winter Olympics were a success because of Donald Trump (third person). “Who else could do it?” he asked. He then swept his hand toward the back of the room and pointed out that the “fake media” were present. “There’s CNN, fake as hell. Ratings just lousy. The worst of them is MSNBC, just horrible. I did 14 seasons on ‘The Apprentice,’ and NBC is perhaps the worst.” (crowd cheered) “We’re going to meet Kim Jong-Un” (crowd booed). Trump said, “No. No. It may work out. If not I’ll leave early.”
“I was talking to President Xi (of China) and he’s just been approved to be president for life. I got criticized by the media for mentioning that one day we might want to try that.” (cheers, pausing) “Just look at all those red hats, Rick,” glancing at Saccone. (cheers) “You believe that?”
He went on: “ISIS is gone. Nobody could have done that. The economy is back. Your steel is coming back. No dumping. And the media wants Trump back. Pocahontas? You think they want to cover Elizabeth Warren? I’d love Oprah to run. I know her weakness. I’d love it. Wages are going up, African-American unemployment is at its lowest level in history. Hispanic unemployment is the lowest. I keep getting told that women don’t like Trump. We got 52 percent of women in the election.” (cheers)
“We passed the largest tax cut.” (chants of “USA! … USA!”) “I need a new slogan. Our new slogan (for 2020) will be, ‘Keep America Great!’ It’s great now. We’ve gotten more done in the first year than any administration in history. (pause) Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?” (cheers)
“The media never covers the size of our crowds. (camera pans the room). We must elect people who support our agenda. Maxine Waters (congresswoman from California), very low I.Q. individual. She can’t help it. All she says is ‘impeach, impeach.’ ”
“Conor Lamb … Lamb the Sham.”
Talked briefly about trade. Then immigration, until the crowd began chanting, “Build that wall!”
“I call up my friends and ask, ‘How good was I?’ They tell me that they can say great, just hearing the crowd.”
“The Democrats are the party of sanctuary cities (booing) and they support MS13. These are animals. They don’t use guns to kill someone. They use knives because it’s more painful. ICE is tough. We’ll put the wall in the NAFTA renegotiated deal. One line, a small asterisk. Mexico will pay. We’ll save money. I know the best builders.
“We have to stop these drugs. Opioids. Melania, a great first lady, right? She’s on a blue ribbon commission. But these commissions don’t get anything done. I asked President Xi if he had a drug problem. He said no. I asked why? He said ‘the death penalty.’ In Singapore, they catch a drug dealer: death penalty. We play games. I’m calling on Congress to defund sanctuary cities. (cheers) We’re going to end chain migration. The lottery. I made the Democrats an offer (on DACA) that they couldn’t refuse. They did.
“We got oil drilling in ANWR (pristine area in the Arctic). Finally, open it up for oil. Part of the tax cut bill. We’re more popular now than we were during the election. I won by 20 points.”
Obscenely, Trump (jocular throughout, as was the crowd) did not mention Stoneman Douglas High School’s 17, the lives lost less than a month before. He did, finally, mention Saccone.
Chris Honoré of Ashland is a Daily Tidings columnist.