Donald Trump’s supporters had a roller coaster week of ups and downs.
It’s not that the Republican frontrunner actually had a bad week in Wisconsin. It’s the way the media reported it. Trump voters who can see through it had to buoy up those who were reading news sites and watching television reports in despair.
‘Is what we are reading and hearing true?’ they asked. No, it is not.
As I predicted, in the UK, Trump news has pretty much dried up unless there is something sensational.
In the US, the media assault has been full on every day. No other candidate could possibly endure what Donald Trump has since July 2015.
And the GOPe(stablishment) have not helped. Voters are watching and pulling away from supporting them. Some Trump supporters have written to party chairman Reince Priebus asking that their names be taken off Republican Party mailing lists.
Trump spent most of the week in Wisconsin, which is headed Cruz’s way. I watched the video of Trump addressing supporters at the town hall on April 2 in Racine. He said he hadn’t had much support because the media are spreading untruths and distortion about him in the Milwaukee-Madison area. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a good article accompanied by an excellent graphic of where Trump’s greatest support comes from: the northern half of the state. Trump took out a ‘cheapo’, as he put it, radio ad to counter the distortion. Whether it will work on Tuesday, April 5, is anyone’s guess, but he had little problem garnering support in the north where tens of thousands of people went to hear him speak. Some of these gatherings were smaller town halls, which meant that hundreds had to stand outside in freezing temperatures.
The newspaper article of the week had to be Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s interview of the billionaire in the April 2 edition of The Washington Post (WaPo). Trump said that, while he was taking advice from friends and family on his comportment, he wasn’t going to change much. He believes he has to be brash in order to win the nomination and, if that happens, the election. Afterwards:
I will be so presidential that you won’t even recognize me. You’ll be falling asleep, you’ll be so bored.
He admitted that there were one or two people with whom he had probably burnt his bridges during the campaign. With regard to everyone else, he would make amends when the time was right. He emphasised his ability to negotiate and unify.
Trump’s wife Melania will be flying to Wisconsin on Monday to join him for the final primary rallies in that state. He told WaPo that she was ambivalent about his running for the GOP nomination with a view towards the presidency: why ruin their wonderful life?
I said, ‘I sort of have to do it, I think. I really have to do it.’ . . . I could do such a great job.
Later, Melania said, “I hope you don’t do it, but if you run, you’ll win,” according to Trump.
Trump told WaPo that America’s unemployment figures are distorted. Furthermore, he said that now is a bad time to invest in the stock market because the current bubble is about to burst.
This was supposed to have been, yet again, Trump’s ‘worst week so far’. It was rather turbulent. At least he started it well by attending an Easter church service in Manhattan with Melania and their son Barron. He later posed for a photo with his eighth grandchild, Theo.
Easter Monday saw Trump in Wisconsin, GOPe territory, ergo pro-Cruz. Conservative Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes interviewed him and, partway through the brutal 17-minute interview, said he was part of the Never Trump people. It transpires that:
one of the ex-wives of Charlie, is Diane Sykes – a federal judge who candidate Donald Trump previously mentioned as a potential SCOTUS nominee.
Two interviews that afternoon were also hostile. Trump was taken by surprise but remained polite and calm.
Later that day, 80 protesters held a sit-in at the Holiday Inn Express in Janesville. The hotel is across the road from the local conference centre, site of Trump’s Easter Tuesday rally. Six protesters were arrested. On the day of the rally, a Trump supporter who was there said that an enclosed holding area had been set up for protesters to express their opposition. Janesville police were out in force: 350 officers kept the peace. Police said that Trump’s campaign team issued more tickets than the venue could hold. Although the gathering was orderly, outside, a young woman, a 15-year-old was pepper sprayed and, according to her, groped afterwards. A second woman, aged 19, was affected by the pepper spray meant for the first one. The protesters, possibly paid, who were arrested the night before, were freed in the early hours of Tuesday, enabling them to go to the rally but remain outdoors.
Trump received unsolicited but highly welcome support from hundreds of Harley riders. Patriotic bikers rolled up by the hundreds to Wisconsin, and not only for Janesville. They plan to continue their presence at all future Trump rallies.
Earlier that day, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery in the Michelle Fields incident on March 8 in Jupiter, Florida. Before addressing supporters in Janesville, Trump held a lengthy press conference on the subject in his jet. His campaign issued a statement. Those following the controversy might be interested in Fields-Lewandowski photos here, here and here. At least one group of ex-Democrats thinks Fields should be given short shrift. Another Trump supporter made a short attack ad on the media’s dishonesty in the matter.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, went on the aforementioned Charlie Sykes’s WTMJ show to say he was endorsing Ted Cruz. This was ironic, considering that Trump had donated $10,000 to Walker’s re-election campaign in 2014. Trump later told those attending his rallies that Walker was so grateful, he even gave him a huge plaque by way of thanks.
After that, perhaps it was small consolation to the billionaire that renegade former Australian Labor leader Mark Latham lent his support, stating:
Donald is by no means perfect but I much prefer his approach to the lying snakes of machine politics and media manipulation.
Another ex-Labor leader, Kim Beazley, said that Australia should seriously start thinking about the reality of a Trump presidency.
The surprise announcement of the day came from Susan Sarandon, campaigning for Bernie Sanders. WaPo reported on an MSNBC interview from Monday, March 28, where she was asked whom she would vote for if the race turned out to be Clinton v Trump. The actress replied that she didn’t know. But, edging towards the property magnate, she said:
Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in then things will really, you know explode.
The WaPo reporter was shocked. How could she? Sarandon explained her position. Briefly:
The status quo is not working …
It was also on Tuesday that Trump withdrew his support for the other GOP candidates should he lose the nomination.
Wednesday, March 30, brought a welcome endorsement from the 16,500 agent-strong National Border Control Council. The Council has not endorsed a presidential candidate for many years. However:
if we do not secure our borders, American communities will continue to suffer at the hands of gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent. The lives and security of the American people are at stake, and the National Border Patrol Council will not sit on the sidelines.
That day, at his rally in De Pere, Trump explained the gravity of Wisconsin’s dire finances. He also talked at length about his failures and successes. The speech was moving and contained a very personal message, as if he were addressing someone one-on-one. This is the classic Trump many remember from the 1980s and early 1990s, speaking calmly yet persuasively. It’s worth the time if you have a spare hour.
That night, at the CNN Town Hall, Chris Matthews asked Trump a hypothetical question about abortion. Trump should have been able to avoid falling into the trap, but Ben Carson thinks he was so focussed on what he went there to discuss — trade and the economy — that he didn’t have time to think. Although those who watched the programme said the audience did not react one way or the other, Thursday’s media coverage showed angry women protesting, accompanied by numerous articles and op-ed pieces sounding the death knell for Trump’s candidacy. Just another day, then.
On Thursday, Trump flew to Washington to meet with GOP chairman Reince Priebus. Although details of their conversation are private, Priebus explained to the press that he was meeting one-on-one with Cruz and John Kasich as well, which he would continue to do throughout the campaign.
On Friday, Cruz — the notional man of God and consitutionalist who had to be informed by a Dallas newspaper about his dual nationality — appeared on the late-night Jimmy Kimmel Live. Millions of Americans saw Cruz say in jest:
If I were in my car and getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the backup camera, I’m not confident which pedal I’d push.
People who threaten violence against presidential candidates, even jokingly, can be arrested. No ordinary person would even think about it.
On Saturday and Sunday, Trump pressed on with energetic rallies all over the state. He recited lists of figures pertaining to the 20% of Wisconsinites engaged in manufacturing. Immigrants are increasingly taking those jobs over. Where they are not, companies are moving thousands of jobs overseas. Trump made sure to mention that he buys windows from a Wisconsin company for his properties as well as Kohler bathroom taps and furnishings.
A fantastic speaker introduced the rallies — Stephen Miller, an adviser to Trump endorser Senator Jeff Sessions. Miller persuasively and memorably spelled out the shocking statistics behind a troubled America. This 12 minute-video is definitely worth one’s time.
On a lighter note, Trump posed for pictures in a café and telephoned a friend of one of the customers.
The weekend closed with suspicions that Wisconsin’s polling showing Cruz miles ahead might not reflect the reality.
We’ll find out early Wednesday morning. For now, Donald and Melania will appear at three rallies today. After Wisconsin, they will be campaigning in New York and New Jersey where Trump says Ivanka will join them.
After all this, Trump will find it a walk in the park dealing with Putin, the Chinese and the Saudis.