Ex-President Donald Trump (76) invited to a campaign rally in the contested Midterms state of Pennsylvania.
Samuel Schumacher, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Here he comes at last, the “MAGA King”, the self-proclaimed king of the “greatest movement in American history”, the chief instigator of the “Make America Great Again” revolution. Not that he invented the slogan himself: he borrowed it from Ronald Reagan. And his “great movement” suffered a clear defeat in the US elections in November 2020. But Donald Trump (76) is not concerned with such details in his rallies, with which he is currently traveling through the country. It’s about the show. And the big question of whether he’ll throw his hat in the ring again in 2024.
His black-and-white Boeing 757 with the gold lettering lands on the tarmac at Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, right on target in front of around 10,000 fans who queued for hours and were frisked by the Secret Service to tell him, « The Don», the ex-president and still the most popular Republican in the country.
“Jesus is my Savior, Trump is my President”
Many stocked up on $20 T-shirts that read, “Jesus is my Savior, Trump is my President.” Or with blue, red and white “Fuck Joe Biden” flags and “The elections were stolen” pins. They are the insignia of a movement that has so far been mostly peaceful but dangerous. The “MAGA” crowd is a minority in America. But the danger is that she doesn’t want to admit that.
The crowd cheers as Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” echoes across the runway. An oily smell wafts in from the chip shops at the edge of the improvised political arena. In the front, many beautiful people descend the stairs from the Trump plane. Then comes the ex-president. He waves. He smiles. The 76-year-old looks fit. He is in a good mood and can hardly be stopped for the next two hours.
The Trump show works according to a simple recipe: The ex-president blares a topic into the crowd, some claim. For example: «Have you seen Obama’s rally? He only had 200 people today. We have tens of thousands!” Then he waits for the reaction. Catches her, then harps on the subject until the hooting dies down. The old Trump perennials work well: the media (“enemies of the people”), Nancy Pelosi (“once a socialist, now a communist”), prices for bacon and turkey (“if I were president, you wouldn’t have to pay twice as much for it ») and the drug epidemic in the USA («I am introducing the death penalty for dealers»).
Trump: live rather disappointing
China, Ukraine and the Space Force created by Trump are doing less well. The jubilation stops. Trump changes quickly. It takes less than ten seconds for Xi Jinping (69) to jump back to bacon prices. He improvises, jumping cheerfully back and forth between the themes. An actual arc of tension, a clear thesis, is not apparent. If this were a school lecture, with luck Trump would get a close “enough”.
But this is not a school lecture, this is a “MAGA” rally. The Trump fans take photos, sip soft drinks (there is no alcohol), listen, sometimes gossip with the people around them. Trump at the front of the stage didn’t take a single break for two hours, didn’t take a single sip of water, didn’t make a single promise. This is impressive. And pretty desolate for long stretches. The Trump show is much more gripping as a two-minute trailer than as a two-hour live event.
“I’ll say it very, very, very soon”
At 8:31 p.m. the final finally, the big question: Will Trump compete again? Will there be another political struggle between the aged giants in 2024? “Say it! Say it! Say it!” shouted the crowd. Trump is enjoying the moment. “Believe me, I want to say it. But I won’t tell. Not now, now it’s about the midterms. But I will say it. I’ll say it very, very, very soon. Much sooner than you probably think.”
There is nothing more this evening. It doesn’t need more. The “MAGA” crowd knows: their “King” will not let them down. After all, the show must go on.