I went over to Las Vegas Trump headquarters near McCarran Airport this morning to hang with the “deplorables” (Trump volunteers) and see what they were thinking on the eve of the Great Debate.
It was a relatively—though far from completely—geriatric crowd because this is Vegas, where Southern Californians go to die with their faces in the slot machines (okay, not always). But for a group of oldsters, they were remarkably upbeat and optimistic. And for supposedly low-info “deplorables,” remarkably well informed.
To begin with, I have some bad news for Fox News. They’re on to your game. On two occasions the people there were relieved I didn’t work for Fox. They think Fox is finito commedia as far as conservatism is concerned and Megyn Kelly, in particular, is the object of considerable disdain, which I gather has been reflected in her ratings of late.
Although not a hugely diverse groups, several blacks, Latinos and Asians were present. None of them thought Trump was a racist (I asked). In fact, they thought the idea was ridiculous.
More interesting was a thirty-two year old man named Steve Azhar, pictured here. It was easy to see that Steve was disabled as he limped around the room, doing his volunteer work. I hesitated to speak to him, but eventually walked over and engaged him in conversation, going straight to the question that would be on almost anyone’s mind in that situation:
How in the world was he for Donald Trump, a man who had notoriously imitated that disabled New York Times reporter early in the campaign? Azhar, who was palsied from birth, had clearly been asked this question before. He simply said it didn’t bother him. He didn’t believe that was the way Trump actually felt about the disabled. He then went on to list his reasons for supporting the businessman, which revolved around jobs and foreign policy.
I further asked Steve what he was doing in Vegas. He explained he was studying both bartending/gaming and music. I didn’t get into the details because at that point a bus had pulled up to ferry the volunteers, laden with Trump paraphernalia, over to UNLV, where they were to wave said paraphernalia in the background of TV shots at the MSNBC booth. Hillary supporters, as I learned when I went to the venue myself, were doing the same. It was a battle of the placards, fought to the bitter end.
Sitting in my car later struggling not to get the sauce from a Double-Double all over my shirt, a thought occurred to me—or rather re-occurred because I have been thinking this for some time:
Donald Trump may be the most lied-about presidential candidate in American history.
They call him a racist, a sexist, an ableist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a phobe-phobe. All eyewash. A blowhard and a braggart, oh yes, but he is none of those other things. I just don’t believe it. And neither, I suspect, do his adversaries, at least their leadership. They just use it to go for the throat at a level we have never seen before, until they have destroyed him. Along the way they will have swept up the timid of the GOP.
Will they succeed? I answer depending on the day and my mood. Today I am not so sure. The polls are strange and often sickening in the way they are used for branding. As I write this, Fox News is playing in my hotel room, the gang at The Five pimping their poll (Hillary up six) as if it were the only one. Meanwhile Drudge highlights all the polls favorable to Trump, which show him tied or squeaking barely ahead.
And then there’s the Brexit factor. I have thought that if Trump is only a few points behind, say 2-3, in the final RCP averages going into the election on November 8, he will win. We shall see.