20 Aug 2015

What Donald Trump did last night…

Donald Trump is hiring. He’s hiring himself as President of the United States and the hundreds of people crowded into the school hall in Manchester, New Hampshire as his cheerleaders.

Here’s a summary of what gets the biggest cheers of the night:

 “Jeb Bush is a loser.”

 “Hillary Clinton is an even bigger loser. They are basically the same people.”

“So is President Obama, and by the way Secretary of State John Kerry has just done one of the dumbest deals in the history of mankind. The Iranians are cheering in the streets etc.”

 “Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is a dirty rotten traitor.”

“It’s only political journalists who are interested in policy. Why write things down when you’ve a talent for spontaneity.”

And the flaxen haired one is just getting started. The crowd is settling in. A big bloke with a beard offers that he wants to see Hillary Clinton in jail. Another that John Kerry is an idiot.

But it’s when Candidate No. 1 gets to the wall he wants to build along the southern border of the US, his big idea on immigration, the one he has written down, that the applause becomes thunderous.

Republican candidate for US President Donald Trump

He repeats his line that crime all over the country is the work of illegal immigrants, who it seems are not only coming into America to take our jobs but to commit our crimes as well. So, they’ll have to go. The Mexican government is laughing at us. Oh, and the gangs and riots in Chicago, Baltimore and Ferguson – illegal immigrants too.

“It’s going to be a beautiful wall – and they’re going to call it the Trump wall.”

I chase him down a corridor, surrounded by hefty security types and adoring delegates, tripping backwards as we go. Isn’t your policy xenophobic? Do you really think Mexicans are all rapists and criminals? America he tells me is broken. Something must be done.

Nearly every Republican candidate was in Manchester yesterday participating in some event or other in this swing state. Within a few miles of one another, out and about to revive the campaign that Donald Trump has railroaded.

Republican candidate for US President Donald Trump

Earlier in the day, we poked our heads into another town hall meeting for another candidate, Ohio governor John Kasich. Much more politics as normal. Much less hyperbole, but some familiar themes: taking the fight to the Islamic State, building that wall, undoing the Iran deal.

When I ask him whether his talking points have changed to echo Donald Trump’s, the governor says he doesn’t have talking points, he’s his own man, he’s spontaneous, he speaks from the heart. Which I can’t help thinking sounds a lot like the real estate guy from Queens doing the town hall around the corner.

In a poll released earlier this month, Donald Trump was continuing to lead the republican pack with 24 per cent of support compared with his nearest rival, Jeb Bush, on 12 per cent.

His high showing in the polls defying moments that might have sunk other campaigns… from his epic displays of chauvinism, to insulting war heroes, to acknowledging he gets his foreign policy ideas from watching television.

It is the great irony of this Republican melee that even sounding like yourself sounds like Donald Trump. That in this patently political engagement, competing for the right to contest the next presidential election, suddenly no-one wants to be a politician.

And as for expelling millions of illegal immigrants from the country, en masse, stripping citizenship from children born here, and building that wall? The only question seems to be, how high?

Which is exactly as Donald Trump wants it.

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