(Be sure to check out Greg Lenz’s impressions here.)
As anyone listening to the podcast knows, I’ve been very critical of Donald J. Trump. I find him boisterous to the point of banality. He’s a master marketer with no real product to sell.
But I’m a fair-minded person. In 2007 and 2008, I saw many of the POTUS candidates when Indiana mattered as it does once again. My impressions about candidates, their supporters, and the state of the race were often shaped or changed by seeing their rallies. When you visit a rally as a member of the media, you see a different side of the campaigns.
First and foremost, you’re in direct contact with staffers of the campaign. I was once told that if you walk into a restaurant and see a disorganized or dirty server, then there is a problem. It is the same with a media staff. Trump’s team was moderately organized. Assigning passes seemed liberal if we got a set. It was an easy process, as was check in. There were staffers around, I think. Normally they are a little more visible in case of questions, especially when it is a campaign’s first stop in a place.
The demographics of the room surprised me. My previous notion of a Trump supporter was a low-education, poor, Baby Boomer with dirty clothes and a southern accent. While a few folks fit that description, it was mostly Generation X and Millennial, 60% white-collar, 70% male to 30% female, and 98% white.
They were far less nazilike and blood-thirsty than advertised. The crowd was a very happy, gentle, and calm crowd. They had the demeanor of a comedy club crowd than a Nazi rally. But this is Indiana. None of this should surprise a native Hoosier. For what it is worth, the reporters in the pit said this crowd was far more docile than other locations. While kicking a protester out, Trump remarked that it was a very polite crowd. “You say get out, and they get out.”
The crowd did have it out for the media. It wasn’t hostile. It was more humorous jabbing from the crowd and candidate.
Honestly, I was bored. I was expecting a far more exciting experience from the political P.T. Barnum. The speech was long, stream of consciousness, lacking in anything I’ve not heard before. Michael Savage once described his own style of radio as the quirky Uncle. You are very excited to see him, but after ten minutes, you’re ready for him to go. Trump was that way. He basically said a lot of things, and I don’t remember them.
A small contingent of “Black Lives Matter” protestors were here. A few were removed. The reason I don’t remember what Trump said is because the crowd and the media were paying attention to those distractions. Trump talks over a small hum of distracting activity as his security and local police remove protesters.
This is the warning played before every speech:
The security is trigger happy. I watched the two polite girls the entire rally to see how the crowd interacted with them. They were well received. Until Trump security noticed their shirt. Their crime was wearing a T-Shirt. The group around them stood up to Trump security and said they weren’t doing anything. The protesters and their defenders were all removed for not obeying. The guy with the Tom Brady sign was far more disruptive.
To sum it up, I am glad I went. It wasn’t serious. It was not a Klan rally or Nuremberg 1934. It was pageantry. While I may have the same view of the candidate as before, I was glad to have my view changed of the average Trump supporter.
It still will not stop me from pretending to be Larry: