The Donald Trump rally at High Point University on Tuesday, Sept. 20 was by Trump standards a fairly inauspicious event.
Earlier in the campaign you could have expected Trump to make at least one statement that would have the mainstream media all atwitter.
At this rally, which was scheduled to start at noon, but where Trump didn’t speak until 1 p.m., the candidate did what political pundits have been saying he needed to do and stayed on message.
Trump read his speech from the teleprompters with, for Trump, very few asides. He stuck to his themes: He’s going to bring jobs back, cut taxes “drastically” and protect the country from radical Islamic terrorism.
The crowd got going a couple of times, but it was nothing like the Trump rally in Greensboro in June when Trump couldn’t get the crowd to stop chanting so he could continue his speech.
The pundits are saying that what Trump needs to do is act presidential, and he did. Even the speakers before him were much more subdued.
Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party Robin Hayes always does a good job at this type of event, chatting with the crowd and introducing speakers. Hayes is a likable guy in person and is the same in front of a couple thousand people.
The Republican candidate for North Carolina attorney general, state Sen. Buck Newton, was the only statewide Republican candidate to speak. Clarence Henderson – who participated in the Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth in 1960 – gave the invocation, and Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes, with sheriffs from nearby counties standing behind him, spoke briefly.
Trump, as would be expected, talked about the recent radical Islamic terrorist attacks and how that proves what he has been saying all along – about the need to vet immigrants – was correct.
He said that, as president, only refugees who could be fully vetted and wanted to be a part of the country would be allowed to immigrate.
He said that Hillary Clinton talked worse about his supporters than she does about radical Islamic terrorists. Trump said, “She called my supporters deplorable and irredeemable,” and he asked if she had ever called radical Islamic terrorists deplorable and irredeemable.
He answered his own question by saying that she hadn’t, because she won’t call them radical Islamic terrorists. And he added, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country.”
He said the current problems in Iraq, Syria and Libya were the result of her policies as secretary of state.
He also predicted that she would change her policies over the next couple of days, and Hillary Clinton has already admitted that vetting refugees is not a bad idea.
Trump, of course, said he was going to build a wall and Mexico was going to pay for it, and that he was going to make great trade deals and bring jobs back.
He talked about how many jobs North Carolina had lost because of NAFTA, which Bill Clinton signed and Hillary supported.
He also talked about rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, which he said is crumbling.
Trump made a pitch to the African-American voters saying that the Democrats come around every “four years, promise you things and nothing happens.” He asked: “What do you have to lose” by supporting Trump?
He finished by saying that he would make America wealthy again, strong again, safe again and great again.
It was interesting to watch the journalists from the national media who follow Trump around, because once he launched into his prepared remarks they quit paying much attention. They have heard the speech numerous times and had transcripts, so they didn’t need to pay attention.
Trump started out campaigning like no one had in years, not with a prepared stump speech but by going out and talking to the crowd and saying whatever was on his mind. Now he is campaigning a lot more like every other candidate does – reading speeches from a teleprompter – but it will be surprising, in the final weeks of the campaign, if he doesn’t revert back to more of his old style to get the voters fired up.
It was a good speech, hitting the points he needed to hit, but it was nothing like the rallies he was holding in the spring where the crowds went wild. He’s like a football team that has been winning by throwing long on every down, finds itself ahead in the fourth quarter and starts running up the middle every play. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.
If it starts not working you can expect Trump to start throwing long again. But for right now he doesn’t have to take the risk, and surprisingly he isn’t.