Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a record crowd of approximately 7900 people at the Anderson Civic Center Monday evening. County officials said the event was the first for the facility that drew more than 5000 people. Trump spoke on making America Great Again, bringing jobs back to America and helping veterans. (Photo by Michael Lollis)
Trump brings message to Anderson
By Stan Welch
An estimated crowd of some eight thousand people jammed the Anderson Civic Center Monday evening, and they were there for one reason and one reason only; to see The Man.
Donald Trump, the political bombshell of both the Republican and the Democratic presidential campaigns so far did nothing to lessen his rock star status as he worked the crowd and went through his laundry list of hot button issues. As usual, he strode emphatically on to the stage, amid the roars of the crowd.
Make no mistake. Some politicians attract audiences; Trump draws a crowd. And the crowd he drew Monday evening was visibly and demographically different from the audiences that have attended previous candidate forums for other Republican candidates such as Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Senator Marco Rubio. They ran the gamut from young adults just old enough to vote to those in their early thirties and right on up into their seventies. Some wore shirts and ties, some wore coveralls.
They were more ethnically diverse than most earlier audiences, and evenly mixed in terms of sex. In keeping with Trump’s claim of being an outsider, there was a certain air of rebelliousness about them. According to the response Trump got when he mentioned what he referred to as “a pretty good college football team around here”, a fair number were Tigers fans, They broke out in the C-L-E-M-S-O-N chant, and Trump was off and running.
He only slowed down once, when someone toward the front of the room apparently had a brief medical issue. As they called for medical attention, Trump slowed his pace, quipping that the fans who actually fainted were his favorites. But once the person was attended to, Trump revved it back up, to cries of “We love you, Donald”.
He referred to the fact that the crowd was the largest in the history of the Civic Center. “People have really been turning out in huge numbers everywhere I go”, he said. “But it’s not just because of me. It’s because they love this country and they are hungry to see something great happening here again. “
He referred repeatedly to the various polls he is leading, in defiance of what many political pundits and experts expected. But Trump has an explanation for that as well. “This isn’t about me. This is about the message. The outpouring of love I have seen as I have traveled this country is not just for me. It is for America. This is a movement, and it is a big movement. We are going to take this country back.”
He once again took on his selected nemesis, the media. “I guess there are some exceptions, but in general, the media is just so dishonest. They don’t report the facts, and in some cases, they even report things in such a way as to cover for certain people.” While he complained about the nature of the coverage, the amount of coverage spoke for itself. Media vans and equipment trucks took up a separate parking area at the convention center, and a media platform and center was constructed in the middle of the floor.
Trump himself acknowledged the large media presence wherever he goes, saying that the main reason he has spent such a comparatively small amount of money on his campaign so far is all the free publicity the various networks and cable organizations are giving him at no cost. “They run hours of stuff on me a week, show after show. If I start running ads, you folks will probably get sick of seeing me, right?” The crowd roared its permission for him to keep using the media to promote his campaign. He hinted that he might just give the millions he had planned to spend on his campaign to charity.
He then took on some of his opponents, most notably South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. “I don’t know why Lindsey wants to be so nasty to me,” he said, referring to several comments Graham has made about Trump’s bombastic style and what Graham considers a lack of knowledge about various issues.”You know, in each of these polls which show me in the thirties or forties, there are also people in the zeroes. I think you folks might have one of those zeroes right here. I would say to Lindsey, go home to your state, serve your people in South Carolina”.
He also took on politicians in general, saying he has only been one for a few months, and “I already hate to use the term. You know, politicians are all talk and no action. They aren’t going to lead us to the promised land. All they do is run – run to get elected, then run to get reelected. “
He once again took a shot at former candidate Mitt Romney, who lost twice to Barack Obama. “Romney is a decent man who should have won, certainly the second time he ran. But he choked. The Republicans just gave up. They disappeared in the last few weeks before the election. Obama was on Letterman and Leno and every other show he could get on, while Romney was invisible. That won’t happen with me.”
Trump reaffirmed his support of the Second Amendment, his commitment to building a wall on the Southern border, and bringing jobs back to America. “China rips us all the time. It’s like your company here, Boeing. They just got an order to build 300 planes for China, but they have to build a plant over there to do the work. That’s ridiculous. It needs to stop, and I will stop it.”
Throughout the appearance he returned relentlessly to the question of polls. Considering his frequent citing of his position in those polls, his claim that no candidate can craft their message based on the polls seemed a bit off key. But he cited his generally exalted position in the polls, and informed the crowd that he had the highest level of support among blue collar workers since FDR.
“What the heck? Let’s just go ahead and have this election immediately,” he shouted. The crowd’s response made it clear that would be fine with them.