Business Insider is following Donald Trump on the campaign trail this week.
Last night, Trump spoke at a rally in Springfield, Illinois. More than 10,000 people attended. It was standing-room-only, floor to rafters. According to the Trump campaign, Trump’s attendance shattered a record set by Elton John 37 years ago.
In the view of this Business Insider reporter, many political pundits do not yet appreciate how compelling a speaker Trump is. They also do not yet appreciate how much passion and energy he can inspire. Trump’s can-do reputation and the public’s disgust with normal politicians and politics as usual are fuelling a startling degree of fervor in his supporters.
In short, this Business Insider reporter believes that Trump’s potential as a candidate is still being underestimated.
Springfield is where Abraham Lincoln is from. President Obama launched his own campaign from there as well.
Trump did not mention Lincoln. He did mention Obama. A lot.
Specifically, Trump bashed Obama.
He also bashed:
- Ben Carson
- The media
- Hillary Clinton
- John Kerry
- The Republicans. Trump says he is almost as disappointed by the lameness and do-nothingness of the Republican candidates as he is the Democrats.
- Congress. When people go to Washington, Trump said, they’re good people. Then Washington “does something to them.” They see the high ceilings and polished stone and decide they want to stay forever. After that, all they care about is getting reelected.)
- Jeb Bush. Trump actually went easy on Bush last night. Because right now Bush is “doing so badly” it’s like kicking a dead horse. Trump did observe that it was Bush’s failure to respond to Rubio’s parry of Bush’s attack in the last debate that killed him. Trump would never have been so weak and lame, Trump said.
- Marco Rubio
- Starbucks (for removing “Merry Christmas” from its red holiday cups. When Trump is president, Trump said, everyone will be able to say “Merry Christmas” again. In the meantime, Trump suggested that he might boycott the Starbucks in Trump Tower.)
- US infrastructure (appalling)
- Anchor babies
- Super PACs
- Ford (for moving a plant to Mexico)
- Nabisco (for moving a plant to Mexico.) Trump mentioned that they had Oreos on his plane on the way out. He suggested he might never eat Oreos again.
- Common Core curriculum. Trump thinks education should be local.
- Politicians (all talk, stupid, terrible negotiators)
Trump got the crowd going. Big time. The issues the crowd cared most about, judging from the roars and waving signs, included:
- Immigration. The crowd LOVED the idea of the wall on the Mexican border. They also loved the idea that Mexico will pay for it. Interestingly, Trump did not mention his previously articulated plan to deport ~11 million illegal immigrants. In the view of this Business Insider Trump-campaign tea-leaf reader, he seems to be moving away from this idea. Trump also devoted many minutes and asides to praising Hispanics. He seems to be trying to make amends to this big group of Americans, many of whom he offended earlier in the campaign.
- Making America great again. This is clearly one of the best campaign slogans of all time. Almost everyone we spoke to at the rally believes that America used to be better than it is now. And they want to get back to the glory days. Trump does an amazing job of making today’s America sound weak and lame. And he does an equally amazing job of making it sound like he’s the one who can fix it.
- America’s pathetic weakness in international relations. Trump also does an expert job of making John Kerry and America’s other international representatives sound like the worst negotiators in history. If Trump had been negotiating the Iran deal, Trump says, he would have STARTED with the four hostages that Iran still refuses to release. Trump would have demanded the release of these hostages and then doubled the economic sanctions until Iran released them. And only then would Trump have entered talks about lifting the sanctions.
- America’s pathetically weak approach to corporate offshoring. If Ford tries to move a plant to Mexico when Trump is president, Trump said, Trump will slap an import tax of 35% on every vehicle Ford imports from Mexico. Ford will kick and scream and try to “pressure” Trump for 24 hours, Trump says. And then they will call him and cave and build their plant in America.
The biggest roars of the night came when Trump asked the crowd, “Who do you want negotiating for you?”
There was no question who the crowd wanted to negotiate for them!
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