Trump’s audacious Southern spectacle is part of his strategy – The Washington Post


It was the most audacious Donald Trump spectacle yet in a summer full of them, as the Republican presidential front-runner, in his Boeing 757, thundered over a football stadium here Friday night and gave a raucous speech to one of the largest crowds of the 2016 campaign.

But Trump’s flashy performance was about more than showmanship. His visit to Alabama was coolly strategic, touching down in the heart of red America and an increasingly important early battleground in the Republican nominating contest.

The Manhattan developer, who strode onstage to “Sweet Home Alabama,” is trying to show that his candidacy has broad and lasting appeal across every region of the country — especially here in the South, where Alabama and seven other states are holding a clustered voting blitz March 1.

The scene Friday night put an exclamation point on an extraordinary run in which the flamboyant mogul has thoroughly disrupted the presidential campaign and kindled a national discussion about not just politics but American culture itself.

“We have politicians that don’t have a clue,” said Trump, wearing a red hat on which was printed “Make America Great Again,” his slogan. “They’re all talk, no action. What’s happening to this country is disgraceful.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talked about his success in the polls to a crowd of more than 35,000 people on Friday during a “pep rally” held at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (AP)

He added: “We’re running on fumes. There’s nothing here. .?.?. We’re not going to have a country left. We need to have our borders. We need to make great deals.”

The crowd — sprawling and boisterous, though filling perhaps half of the 40,000-seat stadium — was anything but silent. People pumped their fists in the air as the ruddy-faced man with an iconic corn-silk coif took one shot after another at former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

His speech focused heavily on illegal immigration — “We’re going to build a wall,” he declared to booming applause. And Trump basked in the early success of his campaign, noting all the states where he leads in the polls, including Bush’s Florida.

“Has this been crazy? Man! I mean, it’s been wild,” he said while suggesting that the United States should have an expedited election as in some other countries. “I’d like to have the election tomorrow. I don’t want to wait.”

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