Akron was my fourth Donald Trump rally (Manchester, NH; Anaheim; Sacramento before, not to mention the RNC) and I was anxious to see if the candidate had upped his game in the swing state of swing states.
He had certainly upped his presenter game. With him in Ohio was the man the crowd knew as America’s Mayor—Rudy Giuliani. He was greeted by cries of “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” They liked what he had to say about radical Islam and the police. I remembered following Rudy’s campaign when he ran in 2008. He got nothing like the response he is getting now.
But the most enthusiastic cheers went up for Donald when he allowed he was going to win in a landslide. “There’s something going on,” as he is wont to say. It’s easy to see why this kind of reception could convince victory was his despite the polls. Hillary doesn’t generate this kind of ardor. Not even close.
And the cheers were coming from a giant crowd that kept streaming into a U. of Akron gym that PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard, an Ohio native, told me was where LeBron James played in high school. The local school evidently wasn’t big enough for James’ growing hoops fame, so they moved the games over to the university facility.
Trump’s speech itself was smoother than they used to be. He has apparently mastered the TelePrompTer and didn’t come near making any gaffes that I could make out, though the MSM worthies sitting stone-faced nearby may may have felt differently. The latest Clinton dump of 15,000 emails announced Monday was woven in seamlessly by Donald into his speech. It was a long way from Manchester when a far more loosey/goosey Donald was goaded by the crowd into making a sexual wisecrack that was not, ahem, presidential.
The crowds too are now oddly more serious. This isn’t a joke anymore. Still, they can be raucous. Talk of Hillary led to spontaneous chants of “lock her up” coming from the audience that sounded like thousands of people who really meant it. What this fervent and justifiable disgust will mean if she is elected is anybody’s guess, but I doubt it will be business as usual.
The most interesting part of the speech—especially since we were in LeBron’s house—was Trump raising again his plea to minorities to vote for him. He doubled down on his statement to blacks and Latinos—”What have you got to lose?”—that has been criticized by those stone faces as being somehow condescending. Really? How about truthful?
Actually, they’re terrified of being found out and grasping at straws. It is Trump’s critics in this case who are being anti-minority. Anyone honest knows what the Democratic Party has done to black people. Forget the bleak statistics. All you have to do is look.
Nevertheless, the audience at the rally—”yuuuge” as it was—was still largely devoid of people of color. If Trump keeps talking about this, maybe they will come, but I suspect something more is needed, a genuine outreach. Whether he realizes it or not, and I think he does, he is dealing with close to fifty years of brainwashing. Not easy to unravel. But is it ever worth it!
Until serious numbers of African-Americans are participating in both the Republican and Democratic parties, the condition of black communities will never improve. Democrats haven’t come up with an original thought for those communities for decades. They haven’t had to.
To keep following this part of the story, I will be attending Trump’s rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday. It’s not because I’m expecting a large black audience, though I would be happy to be surprised. It’s just I’m curious to see how this will all play out in the deepest of the Deep South. Besides, I’ve never been there—and who doesn’t love the song?
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His most recent book is—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. You can read an excerpt here. You can see a brief interview about the book with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal here. You can hear an interview about the book with Mark Levin here. You can order the book here.