Obama is the ‘founder of Islamic State’, Clinton ‘a crooked loser’, Trump is uncowed - and his fans love it
The Donald Trump who arrived at a rocking Broward County hockey arena on Wednesday night wasn’t the politician who read from a teleprompter when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination last month, or when he laid out his economic plan in Detroit earlier this week.
No, the Trump who rallied thousands of raucous supporters in Sunrise came to South Florida to riff.
On Islamic State: “ISIS is honouring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS … and I would say the co-founder is crooked Hillary Clinton.”
On Clinton, his Democratic rival for the White House: “Hillary Clinton said, ‘I don’t like his tone.’ See, I don’t like her temperament. Her temperament is the temperament of a loser.”
The crowd loved it.
His appearance came a day after Trump caused a firestorm by suggesting to supporters in North Carolina that “Second Amendment people” - those who support gun rights - could take action to stop Clinton from appointing US Supreme Court justices as president. Outrage at the presumed implication ensued.
“Yesterday we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments by Donald Trump that crossed the line,” Clinton told a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. “Words matter, my friends. And if you are running to be president, or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences.”
But in Florida, Trump’s supporters had other things on their minds.
“Lock her up!” they chanted from the moment they gathered, under an afternoon thunderstorm. When Trump blasted the news media, they changed the chant to “Lock them up!”
“Look at this. August. Hot. Tremendous bad weather today,” said Trump, who had flown in from an earlier rally in Virginia, another key swing state. “You have a vicious storm – and look at this place!”
At least three groups of protesters interrupted Trump’s hour-long commentary in a span of about three minutes.
“Is there any place better than a Trump rally, or more fun?” Trump interjected once. “There’s so much love in the room,” he said, without irony. “It’s incredible.”
“Trump is Trump,” gushed Sandra Witte, a Tamarac Republican. “We all love him. I love everything about Donald Trump ... He is a true American ... He wants to take care of America first.”
Inside the rally, which began more than an hour late, Trump whipped out props – a series of poster boards showing various graphs on the economy (“Are we having fun with these stupid boards? I love these boards”) – and mentioned that the people sitting behind him wouldn’t see them.
“The people behind me, they’re all on television,” he said. “They’re going to be famous.”
He seemed unaware that the face above his left shoulder was former congressman Mark Foley who resigned in disgrace after he was accused of sexually propositioning male pages in Congress.
The father of Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people in June at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, was sitting behind Clinton at a Monday night rally in Kissimmee.
“They knew!” Trump said on Wednesday, mocking the Clinton campaign’s poor advance work. “Of course he likes Hillary, because Hillary won’t even say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’,” Trump added. Clinton’s campaign has disavowed Seddique Mateen and said he wasn’t invited to the rally by the campaign.
Besides Clinton, Trump repeatedly targeted reporters, drawing some of the night’s strongest applause.
“The biggest rigger of the system is the media,” he declared, referring to his off-the-cuff suggestion Tuesday that gun owners take action against Clinton. “I mean, look at the way they covered that story yesterday. Was that disgusting?”