What I learned attending a Trump Rally
I recently attended my first Donald Trump Rally in Tampa (Aug 24, 2016) at the Florida State Fairgrounds. I have watched such rallies on television, but it was definitely more interesting attending as opposed to merely watching it. There were upwards of 5,000 people in attendance from all walks of life; business people, retirees, and everything in between. The energy in the room was infectious and reminded me of attending a World Series game. Again, there is a big difference in attending the game as opposed to watching it on television.
I sat with the press corps, which was quite an experience. I could feel the animosity from the people. In particular, some people heckled CNN saying, “How about telling the truth for a change?” The CNN people kept their distance. All of the other networks were represented and sat in a gated area in the middle of the auditorium. More on this later.
This was a well choreographed rally reminiscent of a Rock concert. There were warm-up speakers including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Senator Jeff Sessions who described the Trump campaign as a “Movement.” When New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was introduced the crowd gave him a warm and boisterous reception. So much so, you would have thought Giuliani was the candidate. Nonetheless, Rudy warmed up the audience and introduced the candidate. Trump was received by the audience with thunderous cheering and applause. It was quite deafening. It reminded me of the reception Jimi Hendrix received when I attended one of his concerts in 1968.
Trump spoke extemporaneously without the aid of teleprompters. He is now an old-hand at such speeches which allows him to communicate with his audience on the same level. He was forceful, confident, and more than anything, he was polished. He played his audience like Elton John plays the piano. As an aside, no protesters appeared during his presentation which lasted one hour.
Mr. Trump began by announcing a new Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Poll, which had just been produced this day, showing him leading Hillary Clinton in Florida by two points.
He then outlined his talk which included the following subjects:
* Creating jobs.
* Rebuilding the depleted military.
* Taking care of veterans.
* Energy Independence.
* Law and Order.
* Making government honest.
* Cut taxes dramatically.
* Improve trade.
* Cutting regulations.
Yes, there was criticism of Hillary Clinton, but this rally was used as more of a sales job to convince people of the necessity of Trump’s policies and positions.
He again made a plea for the votes of African-Americans, claiming 58% of blacks are unemployed, homicides are up, and four out of ten youths live in poverty. “For those of you being left behind, vote for Trump,” he said, “What have you got to lose?”
Trump went on to say, “All Americans have a right to good jobs, a home, education, and not being shot. I’m offering a chance for a better life.”
He had three words to fix America, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” To this end, he highlighted parts of his economic plan, including:
* Cut personal taxes.
* Cut the corporate tax from 35% to 15%.
* Cut the death tax.
* Simplify the tax code. “I do not believe H&R Block will be voting for me,” he kidded.
As to improving trade, he listed seven points:
1. Withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
2. Appoint a tough trade negotiator.
3. Instruct the Secretary of Commerce to identify violations of trade agreements and end abuses.
4. Renegotiate NAFTA.
5. Instruct the Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator and stop the cheating.
6. Appoint a trade representative to bring cases against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
7. Remedy trade tariffs.
Trump made it clear it was time to end government corruption and promote ethics. “The rest of the world is laughing at us,” he claimed.
He had harsh criticism here for Mrs. Clinton, saying, “It is impossible to know where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins.”
Trump repeated his call for a special prosecutor to investigate the Foundation, saying, “It is a rigged system. Hillary thinks she is above it all.”
Some of the loudest applause from the audience came when Trump discussed illegal immigration. “We need to keep people out who do not share our values. We’ve got to promote our values.”
He closed his talk claiming the country has to become a more inclusive society. Whereas he portrayed President Obama as the great divider, he ended by saying there should be “No American left behind.”
As to the media, they listened dispassionately to Trump and rarely reacted to anything he said. Perhaps they had heard it all before. As for me, I was studying the reaction from the audience and what hot buttons caused them to cheer. I even saw a little old lady in a wheelchair, stand up to shout her approval and wave a Trump sign. But the press? Nothing.
I also saw about five reporters who prepared their articles before Trump even took the podium. This didn’t sit well with me. In addition, the rally began with an invocation where people stood and bowed their head. Of the press corps in attendance, approximately 25% stood during the invocation, the rest were working on their laptops or smart phones. When the pledge of allegiance was given, less than half stood. Personally, I found this rather disturbing. No wonder the public is antagonistic to them.
In the end, I didn’t really learn anything new about Mr. Trump or his policies that I didn’t already know. However, I learned his rallies are powerful sales tools which could very well carry him to the presidency. And I learned way too much about the main street media.
You can watch the speech below.
Keep the Faith!