What I heard when I went to see Donald Trump

Donald Trump in Atlanta, Feb. 21. (AP Photo / David Goldman)

Donald Trump in Atlanta, Feb. 21. (AP Photo / David Goldman)

There is something about watching Donald Trump at one of his own rallies that is completely unlike watching him in a debate or TV interview or any other medium. First, there’s the crowd. It is, as I noted from the Trump rally in Atlanta on Sunday, unlike any crowd I’ve seen at a Republican event in Georgia in the past seven years. It was more diverse in every respect: racially, ethnically, age-wise and, judging solely by appearance, in terms of socio-economics. I wondered how much of that was pure curiosity, so I left the safe confines of the media area — more on that in a moment — to stand among the crowd. Based on what I heard from talking to people and listening to their reactions to Trump, they were with him at least up to a point.

Then there is the atmosphere. It was vaguely threatening in the same way that being a sports fan at an opposing team’s venue is. I’ve covered a lot of events, political and otherwise. Many times, there is a roped-off area reserved for the press, with tables and chairs (and, if you’re lucky, extension cords). I’ve never been to one of those where there were also armed, uniformed police in said roped-off area. I found this a little off-putting, at first. By the time I returned to it toward the end of the speech, I found it a bit reassuring — given the repeated times Trump exhorted the crowd to turn, point, boo, hiss at the very people who have given his campaign the oxygen it needed to thrive.

But what’s most different about seeing Trump in person, or at least alone and not having to share the stage trading 60-second sound bites with other candidates, is the way he is free to speak at length about various topics — saying nothing of substance, very little that is true, and a lot that is borderline insane. Here are a few snippets I’ve transcribed from a video recording of his appearance (to ensure I got it right, word for word).

On the Keystone XL Pipeline:

“We should have it, but we’ll make a much better deal. We should have it, but we should get a piece of the action for the United States, right? Right? Right? See, only a businessman would say that. Why should we approve it? They’re using by the way eminent domain to make it, otherwise you can’t. We should get a piece of the action. Approve it, it’s a lot of jobs. Frankly, it’s Canadian oil, I don’t care so much, but we’ll be good neighbors. Approve it, we’ll get the jobs, but we should get like 25% of the profits or 25% of the ownership for the United States. Right? Right?”

Only “a businessman” would say the government should demand ownership of a private venture creating jobs on our soil … or a corporatist, as Mussolini understood the term. Take your pick.

On How He Would Have Negotiated a Better Iran Deal, Part 1:

“You ready? You walk in, you say fellas, you gotta do us a favor. Release our prisoners — this is four years ago — release our prisoners. They’re gonna say no. And we say, bye bye! Bye! And then you go outside, you call up, you double up the sanctions, you triple up the sanctions. Within 24 hours, maybe 48 hours, they will call you and say the prisoners are gone, they’re gone. Amazing, a miracle.”

“Maybe” a whole 48 hours? How modest, this Trump. Of course sanctions could be doubled, tripled — and capitulated to — in a day or two. Just “call up.” Whom? Doesn’t matter. A “miracle,” indeed.

On How He Would Have Negotiated a Better Iran Deal, Part 2:

“I say, very simply: Fellas, we got a problem. Our country is going to hell. We’ve had incompetent leadership. Grossly incompetent, like how ’bout the worst? We owe $19 trillion. We’re gonna owe another $2 trillion soon because of this horrible budget. We owe $19 trillion. We’re a debtor nation. Our infrastructure is falling to pieces. Our health care is no good. Common Core is horrible — it’s costing us a fortune; we’re getting rid of Common Core; we’re getting rid of Common Core, by the way; we’re gonna have local, local, local love; local education; getting rid of Common Core, that’ll be one of the early things, OK — and we just don’t have the $150 billion. I’m so sorry, I don’t know how to tell you, we just don’t have it. They’ll go crazy, for about a day. And then the second day they’ll call, and we’ll start, and we just saved $150 billion. Believe me. Now – believe me.”

Yes, he said he’d bring up Common Core with the Iranians. And that would be one of his excuses for why we couldn’t pay them $150 billion — at which point one wonders if they’d remind him the money in question represents their assets frozen in our banks, not an appropriation American taxpayers have to fund. And one supposes his answer would be, as he said so many times Sunday, “Who cares?” Which is how we get from the “miracle” he mentioned earlier into fairy-tale land.

On how he’d bring jobs back to America/what’s wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership/who’s paying for his campaign:

“I love our country. I love the people of our country. I’ve gotten to love them more and more. I see such incredible potential. This country is amazing. I want to make Apple iPhones and computers and all of the stuff — I want to start making it in our country, not in China. (Cheers) And we’re gonna put a lot of pressure on Apple and these companies to make their product here. We have incredible people. And the reason they make it there is because they’re money manipulators. You look at China, what China does to their currency, you take a look at what China does to devalue their currency, it makes it impossible for our people to compete. They’re manipulators. You know the new trade deal? It is so bad for us, it is so bad for us. You have countries — TPP, you’re really up on it, that’s good; Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is the worst — they don’t even talk about manipulation! That’s their number one method. Devaluation of currency. And China is like a grand chess master. There’s nobody that’s ever done it better. So we ought to get rid of that. We have some conservative politicians and some liberal pols that want it badly. The reason they want it badly? Take a look at their campaign finance. Take a look at the people giving them money. I’m self-funding. I’m putting up all of my own money. I’m putting up my money.”

If you’re scoring at home, that’s one corporatist threat against American companies; one misleading tangent about the TPP, which by design excluded China and therefore never possibly could have addressed Chinese currency manipulation; and one lie about campaign finance, refuted early and often on his own financial disclosures to the federal government.

But there is nothing I heard or saw, not one thing, that compared to a scene that simply has to be seen to be believed:

Trump went on to say this:

“Now listen, this is the thing. The lights go off, it’s better. We say, we want the lights on, it’s terrible, it’s terrible. We take a big deduction off the rent because the lights are off, but it’s actually better. It’s the kind of sick thinking we really need for our country, isn’t that right? So because the lights didn’t work, even though it’s better, we say, we’re not paying the rent, the lights didn’t work, this is ridiculous, we will not pay the rent. And we say, bye bye!”

Thousands of people chanting “Turn off the lights! Turn off the lights!” and cheering for “sick thinking.” Yep, that about sums it up.

Reader Comments 0

287 comments
Mike Stevens
Mike Stevens

Wrong Anna, Obama outspent all previous presidents combined

foglifter
foglifter

I think we  can do better than Trump. One needs to not be too literal  with his works ( no teleprompter for him) But the  concept is the issue. get tough with the enemy - do not pander  to them like Obama.  Like all politicians all he promises  will not  become fact.  Think Obamas  Hope and Change.  Where  did that get us, and how detailed is that statement?  Detail  $2500 reduction in health care  expenses is quite detailed and totally up side  down. All went up mostly at least $2500.  Yes the reporter is clearly most biased. To be  expected  from the old  AJC-  sad to see it  still so, Thought  they where doing  better now.  SAD!

DeeRamsey
DeeRamsey

This article is designed to make Trump look, well, crazy.  He is not!  You might want to google YOUTUBE for the ENTIRE footage of the rally!!  This guy has taken what Trump said out of context and twisted it!!  It's pathetic!  TRUMP 2016!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9DJrA8gBwM

VictorB123
VictorB123

@HarleyLeBon Wait till Trump learns that Common Core is not a federal program and he can't do anything about it. LOL!

Sonja Byrd Roberts
Sonja Byrd Roberts

Now if only he could have gotten me a forgiveness in my student loans! I would have written him in on the ballot if I could..lol

Sonja Byrd Roberts
Sonja Byrd Roberts

Actually Obama has accomplished far more than any president I've known. I vote in all elections great or small. I have more in the bank my stock looks good gas prices down and I don't worry about a war. He's very classy and they gave America hope. Take a look and contrast today versus the Bush administration both of them. The numbers in jobs have increased and unemployment is no where near what it use to be.

Leland Riner
Leland Riner

Deloies Kilgore And that will be vote for Trump

Leland Riner
Leland Riner

Georgia is my home state , and they will go with Trump , because of the disaster of the last 7 plus years has presented , Another Democrat at this time would break the camels back , and this country that we all love would never recover , It would be a full pledge communist country with a lot of infighting among the people and the result would be a disaster and people would go after the after the 3 or 4 people that they suspect are pulling the strings in this country then all the money and power they have now will be gone ,

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

It's going to be interesting. If Trump take his blood pressure medicine and studies up I think he could hold his own with Hillary Clinton and often times these debates are one by quirky things. Remember when George Bush l looked at his watch? Hillary taking too long at the bathroom.?.and one line from Reagan "There you go again" to Carter. I have one vote but my grandkids future is at stake. Hillary has already pronounce that she would be Obama part 3. I could list a long list of things that are going in the right direction under this administration. I don't think we need Obama part 3 I think we need a fresh start. Since we're engaging in a civil conversation about politics let me ask you your opinion on what is going on with this Supreme Court justice that Obama is talking about vetting for the job

Sonja Byrd Roberts
Sonja Byrd Roberts

Hillary has MORE political scope and many committees that support her. She will crush Trump during the debates. Trump reminds me of Ronald Reagan but however did win but no real political experience

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

I already cast my absentee ballot for Donald Trump. So did my wife and I think some more relatives. I have a neighbor that is stuck on Cruz for now until the general election then he will vote against Hillary I think. But I have a feeling Trump has at all. All this talk about him being a charlatan and every other thing they have thrown at him doesn't matter because we are sick of the RINOs and inaction of Republicans and of course Obama and his policies. It's time for change.

Sonja Byrd Roberts
Sonja Byrd Roberts

John Gilbert Colgan all their debates have been childish gibberish. What did Christie Say?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Stream of consciousness campaigning by a whacko.

Leland Riner
Leland Riner

Your wrong the Republicans like all their candidates , and will vote for the one that gets nominated , we have all had enough of Obama and all the rest of socialist Democrats , And the deceitful Hillary ,

Marchitta Hunt
Marchitta Hunt

Prayers we are in trouble....LORD help America...peace

Robert Young
Robert Young

How much better off are blacks & Latino's since Obama arrived on the scene?  What, exactly has the Obama administration done to improve life for    ANYONE, let alone Blacks & Latino's. 

A Pen In the Hands of This President is Far More Dangerous Than a Gun In the Hands of 200 Million Law-Abiding Citizens

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

Rubio is exactly who Chris Christie said he was - if you saw the debate.

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

The guy has a plan on everything everything but you don't hear it if you don't want to. So it will be Trump or Hillary. Do you really want someone stupid enough to send secure material on an unsecured source being your commander in chief? Do you want more gridlock in Washington? Hillarys only accomplishment is that she hasn't been indicted

Alana Oxford McAlister
Alana Oxford McAlister

The Hispanic voters were one hundred the media and pundits gave it as percentage so it seem like so much more are we surprised trump won Nevada his name is all over it casinos

NanaB6
NanaB6

Sometimes you get what you deserve. 

Medawgu
Medawgu

Hilter was a clown to but rode bigotry to the Chancellorship.  Homophobia, anti- immigrant, anti-Muslim just replaced anti-semitism. 

NewspaperTaxis
NewspaperTaxis

He is a clown with his outrageous antics amusing simple minded children

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

The Obama administration wants to force Apple to create a back door to the iPhone, just like Trump. Supporters of both are idiots.

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

You're, liberals are so good to point out bad grammar. To bad they can't point out bad politicians. Like HiLIARy and Bernie.

Kyle Robinson
Kyle Robinson

Maybe because you dropped thirty grand on a education you could've got for $1.50 in late charges at the public library and now you parade around acting like you are somehow superior because you got a piece of paper that you can frame up on the wall that makes you feel so good about yourself that you think your opinion is the gospel Laura Fulton

Laura Fulton
Laura Fulton

Didn't he say he loves the uneducated people. I wonder why. ......

Jim Adcock
Jim Adcock

Sure looks like a lot of Liberal's are paying more attention to Trump than they are Hillary & Bernie. You talk about two who have a clear plan for America. It's called re-distribution of wealth. Legally stealing from folks & taxing the producers & doling out their hard earned money to the unproductive.

at4a4a
at4a4a

this is great! even your transcriptions are difficult to read!

Holy Sentence Fragments, Batman!!!!

Jay Lee
Jay Lee

A vote for Trump is a vote to destoy our country. It's incredibly sad that anyone would even consider voting for this creep.

Millard Mayfield
Millard Mayfield

We the people are the government and we the people will make him fail during the primary campaign, can't wait.

Hugh Myron
Hugh Myron

Most of the people whining about Trump are entitled millennials who want free college.


Luckily, they tend to be too lazy to vote

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

It's going to be a long sad summer

QuintEssential
QuintEssential

Trump is a marketing genius - but no more so than the 2008 Obama campaign people who convinced millions to vote for a mystery man with almost no experience on the world stage, or any other stage of significance. Who watches the Super Bowl - and talks days about the ads hawking sponsors' products? What about the Olympics? Americans are a collective bunch of dull-witted and spine-less creatures who can be talked into almost anything. Re: Obama - see what it gets us.




Scott Madison Baker
Scott Madison Baker

@QuintEssential except that if you payed attention he exhibited presidential leadership during the campaign pushing the utter failure of a president bush.

Dumporangebuffoon
Dumporangebuffoon

@QuintEssential Both got votes by publicly stating what an idiot George W was.  Trump has yet to show that Obama committed the type of blunders  that W did. He is picking up the usual GOP crowd of  white conservative bigots who hate Democrats, some Hillary haters and the usual bunch who hate Hispanics and Muslims. 

Caius
Caius

A lot of discussion down below about the Latino vote in the Nevada caucus. Caucus votes to not readily transfer to primary or general election results as all know.


Nevada 2012 presidential election: 995K votes cast of which 189K were Latino votes and Obama took 71% of that vote, some 134K actual votes.  The total attendance at the Republican caucus yesterday was just over 75K.  So someone took 46% of the Latino vote last night - so what? What was the actual number of Latinos voting -  14K at best? 


Latino leaders nationwide are predicting an increase of 17% in Latino voter turnout in November; and Obama took the Latino vote with 67% in 2012 as I recall. Add that to the average of 55% of the women's vote going to Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Republicans have an uphill battle to take the WH.  The Republican nominee must take at least 50% of the women's vote and must take more than 50% of the largest minority vote, the male vote.


The male vote should be a slam.  If the Democrat can carry the ladies vote, IF, then Republicans are in trouble no matter who the nominee turns out to be.


Trump is speaking highly of Planned Parenthood and that might just give him an edge with the ladies vote.  Unless, of course, that position hurts him with evangelicals.



Hugh Myron
Hugh Myron

@Caius Legal hispanics support Trump because they tend to not like illegals too much,