Trumpmania: President storms the States on final weekend
Monday - 05/11/2018 12:20
THE President has stormed the United States with a dizzying show in the finals days before a crucial vote. This is how it works.
THE scene is pure theatre.
A wall slides open to the setting sun, the crowd is whipped into a frenzy and the music reaches a crescendo. A jumbo jet emblazoned with “United States of America” glides past in a graceful landing, before nosing back into view as Simply The Best blares from the speakers. A door opens, and a man with a stiff orange hairstyle waves and walks down the stairs, taking the stage to God Bless The USA.
At times, during Donald Trump’s Saturday Florida rally, I am almost swept up in the crowd’s mania, feeling an urge to clap as the room goes wild. More often, it is wearisome, with the President repeating all the familiar lines — the dangers of the migrant caravan, the US becoming a “sanctuary for ruthless gang members”, corrupt Democrats who let others “steal our jobs”.
The crowd hangs on every word, booing or cheering as the pantomime requires, waving signs and chanting the key phrases: “Drain the swamp!”, “Lock her up!”, “USA! USA! USA!” and even “Space Force!”
Trump is nearing the end of his astonishing run of 11 rallies in six days leading up to the midterm elections on Tuesday. He’s the “Energiser Bunny”, according to one onlooker, and it may be his greatest strength. There are dramatic storylines, goodies and baddies, and childlike whimsy. This is why Mr Trump is seen as a president who keeps it real.
“He’s not the status quo of Washington,” Chris Oaks, a 30-year-old sound technician, tells news.com.au. “The divide that we have here in America, I kind of put that off on past politicians.
The President draws in his fans here in Pensacola with dark tales of socialism and financial disaster under the Democrats, before painting a beautiful picture of his dream America. The audience can’t get enough.
‘THE RED WAVE IS COMING’
Some in the long queue outside the airport hangar have camped overnight to ensure they get in, while others arrived at dawn for a rally due to start at 6.30pm. There is a festival atmosphere here on the conservative Florida Panhandle, with portable toilets, entrepreneurs selling merchandise from carts, and spontaneous singing from queuers dressed in red, white and blue and slogan T-shirts.
The pop music with a message is key today. There’s Macho Man, Sweet Home Alabama, Under Pressure and YMCA. Mr Trump even sings a few bars of the latter to help us recall the name of his new trade agreement, USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada agreement).
It’s the last weekend before the US goes to the polls, and Mr Trump is going full-throttle to make sure the Republicans retain control of Congress. The Democrats may struggle to gain a majority in the Senate, but are expected to win the 23 House of Representatives seats they need for a majority. Even Mr Trump this week allowed for the possibility, insisting it wouldn’t matter. The crowd here is confident “the red wave’s a-coming”.
The President kicked off his mega-run of rallies in South-West Florida on Wednesday, and was back in the battleground state three days later, determined to ensure the rest of the purple state turns as red as Pensacola, on the northwest Panhandle.
Mr Trump needs Florida. The state chose him in the presidential election by a 1.6 per cent margin, but also twice voted for Barack Obama.
It is where the President spends his weekends at his lavish Mar-a-Lago golf resort.
“It’s my home also,” he tells the crowd. “I love the state of Florida and I have to tell you, we love the Panhandle.”
Here, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum will fight it out for governor in one of the nation’s tightest and hardest-fought races, while outgoing Republican governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson face another too-close-to-call match for the Senate.
Mr DeSantis is a man crafted in Mr Trump’s image. The Republican former navy prosecutor has appeared in a TV advert teaching his young children to “build the wall” with blocks and to say “Make America Great Again”.