I watched a Trump rally so you don’t have to. But you have to know what he says

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a

(Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

I watched a Trump rally so you don’t have to. But you have to know what he says

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jackie Calmes

February 22, 2024

Donald Trump famously profited far too much from billions in free media in his 2016 campaign, as some in the industry later admitted. At the time he was a ratings monster; Cable TV networks covered his rallies and began to end when millions of Americans tuned out in horror or delight at his shameless



What would he say next?

Eight years later, the networks have withdrawn. Even Fake News no longer pays that much attention to the former president. Their viewers have Trump fatigue, both his opponents and supporters. Only obscure right-wing channels that cater to MAGA types broadcast the entire rallies in real time; the rest offer video clips, if so.

Still, voters shouldn’t ignore Trump on the stump, especially considering that his and President Biden’s respective ages and mental acuity are the deciding issue in their apparently likely rematch in 2024. A majority would, I think (hope?), go without to remove any doubt about which of the two candidates has gone wild. Hint: it’s not Biden.

For those not inclined to stream an entire Trump show of about 90 minutes, even his fans often start walking out halfway through the rally I watched so you don’t have to.

My selection was Saturday night performance in Waterford Township, Michigan, a working-class neighborhood north of Detroit. Against the cold at the airport there, Trump wore a long black coat and black leather gloves, recalling his appearance at the January 6, 2021 rally, where he told the Capitol crowd: If you don’t fight like hell, you can’t “We won’t have more land.’

Much of his rhetoric and style was familiar, but also often incoherent talk, untruths, indecent asides (he took a swipe at 99-year-old Jimmy Carter, who had just spent a year in a hospice) and sophomoric insults from his many enemies in both countries. parties.

Some of Trump’s critics say he has gotten worse in his hate speech, such as his recent speech about political enemies being vermin and immigrants poisoning the nation’s blood. He didn’t repeat those Hitlerian echoes in Michigan, even though the sentiment was there. No matter how much he ramps up his rhetoric, it has not really changed the bigotry, lies and disrespect for democratic norms and the rule of law. are all still part of the playlist.

There is more talk of one thing than before, despite the children in the audience: blasphemy. And more than ever, given the many criminal charges and the mountain of legal penalties he faces, his grievances are there. These are no longer rallies. They’re pity parties.

What struck me most after about the first half hour was not what Trump said, but how his audience reacted. A Trump speech is not interrupted by applause like the thousands of ambitious speeches I have heard from other politicians before. Instead, Trump’s supporters continuously let out jeers, boos and their own favorite profanities in approving response to his non-stop whining.

Just minutes later, he killed Crooked Joe for the first of many times and called Biden the worst president we’ve ever had. (Fact check: An updated ranking of US presidents that day, by leading scholars, reiterated that Trump was the worst; Biden debuted at No. 14.) Trump polled the crowd on whether to call Biden crooked or sleepy; the first one won.

He controlled Birdbrain (Nikki Haley); two prosecutors, crazy Jack Smith (he’s an animal) and Fawwny (Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis); Nancy Pelosi (he suggested her wealth is somehow suspect); and Barak


Obama. He still deliberately mocks the Germanic pronunciation of retired Chancellor Angela Merkel’s name; he did so during an anti-trade tirade about stupid Americans buying so many German BMWs, Volkswagens and Mercedes-Benzes, most of which were said to be made in South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee respectively.

Trump seemed to undermine the crowd’s initial energy by whining at length about the previous day’s news that New York Judge Arthur


Engoron, a corrupt judge, claimed he ordered him to pay approximately $450 million in fines and interest three times for financial fraud. It is the weaponization of this terrible justice system, he said, adding: this is the real threat to democracy.

It was all about him, just as his charges and trials for fraud, assault, defamation and election subversion are all his. Still, Trump wanted the worship The crowd believes his self-inflicted legal troubles are



These are Democrats who absolutely hate me, he said of his opponents, starting with Biden. They hate you too, I gotta tell you that. On another note, we are all in this together. And in an hour: every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, Communists and Fascists denounce me, I consider it a great badge of honor. I am being dictated to you. Never forget.

Trump’s continued denial of his 2020 defeat peppered his comments throughout. We won twice, he blurted out at one point. He blames the failure to complete the border wall on the election being rigged. He repeated his lies about 2020 voter fraud in majority-black Detroit, long debunked by the state’s Republicans, Trump’s attorney general, courts and anyone else who looked at the facts. (We gotta look at Detroit. Boy, oh boy, oh boy.)

The American carnage was a big topic, as it was in his 2017 inaugural address. All our rotten cities are run by Democrats, Trump said, fueling the country’s red rural-blue city divide. We are worse than a third world country. Look at our airports, said the man who repeatedly promised an infrastructure bill. (It was Biden who delivered; his bipartisan infrastructure bill provides $25 billion to modernize U.S. airports.)

Trump returned again and again to blame Biden for the crush of migrants at the southern border. Welcome to Congo, people, he said, who claimed that Africans were coming out of prisons and asylums. He promised the largest deportation in history, which would be economically disastrous, and took credit for a new term: Bigrant crime as in: Biden migrant crime. Oh, that’s good, that’s smart, he said, pointing to his brain.

Non sequiturs were constant. Trump went from grumbling about his Georgia case straight to unrelated and chilling conversations about beefing up police accused of misconduct once he’s president: You can stop [crime] in one day, in one hour, if you get really mean and really tough.” And there was this: the great capital, Washington, DC, is under siege. I will always defend Medicare and Social Security, unlike Birdbrain.

I’m not joking. That’s what he said.

that and everything else.

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Spoiler alert: the man is not fit to be president.



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