It’s not easy being an outsider at a Trump rally.
It’s not just the protesters, like the two at the rally in Duluth who were circled by Trump supporters chanting the president’s name until security hustled them out of Amsoil Arena. It’s anyone who questions the basic aspirations of Trump voters or the president himself. On Wednesday night, those Trump backers — more than 6,500 who showed at the rally in Duluth — made it clear how unified they were, with cheers and taunts that punctuated Trump’s nearly hourlong speech.
Trump didn’t neglect Minnesota-specific issues. He started the program with an acknowledgement of Minnesota’s Republican candidates for U.S. House and Senate and ceded several minutes of podium time to 8th Congressional District candidate Pete Stauber, who was cheered almost as much as Trump himself.
The crowd went euphoric when the president announced his plans for mining in the Superior National Forest. “We will soon be taking the first steps to rescind the federal withdrawal in Superior National Forest and restore mineral exploration … for the people and miners and workers and for the people of Minnesota,” he said, injecting a rare caveat, “We’ll do it carefully and maybe if it doesn’t pass muster, we won’t do it all, but it is going to happen.”
No caveats were needed when Trump expounded on his other targets of the evening, though: the media, immigration, trade, taxes, and Hillary Clinton, about which he and his supporters bonded with a solidarity that left no room for disagreement.
“Those very dishonest people back there,” is how Trump identified the media horde that covers the rallies. “Those very dishonest people.”
The crowd needed no further prompting, as it turned toward the media platform and started chanting, “CNN sucks. CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks!”
Trump then referred to the executive order he finalized just hours earlier ending the separation of families detained at the border, a move aimed at quelling widespread criticism of the practice. “Today I signed an executive order. We’re going to keep families together but the border is going to be just as tough as it’s been. Democrats don’t care about the impact of uncontrolled migration on your communities, your schools, your hospitals, your jobs or your safety. Democrats put illegal immigrants before they put American citizens. What the hell is going on?”
In response, the crowd roared, “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!”
Trump added, “We do want people coming across our border, going through our ports of entry but we want people to come through merit, not just through luck or happenstance. We need people to help, but we need people to come through a merit system.”
“USA, USA, USA, USA,” the crowd chanted.
From there, Trump pivoted to the Department of Justice inspector general’s report on Hillary Clinton’s emails. “Have you been watching what is going on with the inspector general’s report? What a scam this whole thing is. How guilty is she?” he asked.
“Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up,” the crowd yelled.
As for the president’s accomplishments, it was clear that his supporters have nothing less than complete faith in his claims. “Nobody’s ever seen growth like we’re having right now,” he said. “When I go around and meet foreign leaders they all congratulate me. ‘Mr. President, congratulations on the growth of the United States. Congratulations.’ Every one of them.”
The crowd didn’t doubt it, intoning another round of, “USA, USA, USA, USA, USA.”
Trump returned the compliments, and frequently, telling the TV crews to turn their cameras on the crowd, referring often to their work ethic and accomplishments. “Our people are the smartest and the hardest working. Smarter than anybody and the hardest working,” he reassured them more than once.
By the time Trump concluded his speech, it was clear the crowd was more than a little pleased, almost giddy, with the president — and with themselves. For many, Trump had already summed up their feelings when, midway through his remarks, Trump broke from his script to ask: “Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?”