Last night, Donald Trump revolted against Fox News’ attempt to set a trap for him by skipping their GOP presidential debate, instead hosting a special rally for veterans at Drake University in Des Moines. I was able to snap up a ticket and attend the rally, and it was not only a fantastic experience, but it was also political masterstroke on Trump’s part. With this move, Trump has firmly established that he is in the driver’s seat and everyone else—the media, the GOP, and his haters—are just along for the ride.
As I mentioned in my last dispatch, because Trump was the primary ratings draw for the presidential debates, the news networks need him more than he needs them. His refusal to attend Fox’s debate was a power play to show them this. Fox News was so desperate to get Trump to rejoin the debate that they not only had Bill O’Reilly beg Trump on air to change his mind, Roger Ailes tried to get his wife and daughter to pressure him into it.
Traditional presidential candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz need TV exposure in order to build their brands and get their message out to voters. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been built on his ability to connect with people through Twitter and other social media. Much like how self-publishing allows authors to avoid the gatekeepers of the publishing world and market directly to their fans, Trump has shown that the media’s ability to make or break presidential candidates has greatly diminished.
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Unlike the other Trump rallies I’ve attended, I didn’t make plans to arrive at this one early, because I assumed that turnout would be lower due to it being announced at the last minute. Boy, that was a mistake. I drove by the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake where the rally was taking place around 4:15 pm (45 minutes before the doors opened) and there was already a huge crowd lined up.
While the initial crowd waiting to see Trump was only about 150 people strong, the line kept growing; an hour later, I estimate there were 3,000 or more people in line based on what I saw and what others were telling me. The line to get in the auditorium stretched back for seven or eight blocks. Because the auditorium could only seat about 1,000, most of the attendees had to be turned away, though some of them watched the rally on a TV the Trump campaign set up outside.
Inside the rally, the atmosphere was similar to the University of Iowa rally I attended on Wednesday, if not as chaotic. Beyond the cheering crowds and array of media cameras (Trump later compared it to the Academy Awards), the rally was also marked by special guest appearances by presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum (the latter of which I shook hands with). Trump stated he had also invited other candidates to his rally, a move that gives him the moral high ground and makes it clear that his problem is with Fox News alone.
Indeed, the mood of the rally was more casual than the previous ones I’ve attended. In addition to opening with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Trump also yielded the floor to guests such as Diamond and Silk. Additionally, Trump was able to raise $6 million for veterans’ causes, an impressive amount considering—again—the rally had only been announced 24 hours previously. You can watch part of Trump’s speech (as well as Huckabee’s and Santorum’s) below:
As I was discussing with a friend after the rally, the media’s lies about Donald Trump and his supporters are starting to shock even me. For example, this article claims that Trump was forced to leave his Iowa City rally early because of a hostile crowd throwing tomatoes at him. I was at that rally, and not only was the crowd enthusiastic about Trump (protesters numbered about 20 at most), but Trump didn’t leave the rally early: he stayed behind to sign autographs and shake peoples’ hands.
It’s getting to the point where the American press has more in common with that of communist Russia than the media of a supposedly “free” nation. Donald Trump’s populist presidential campaign represents a serious threat to the established order. While both the left and cuckservatives had hoped that the Donald would be a flash in the pan, his continued dominance at the polls has them in panic mode.
In any event, the likelihood of the Trump Train derailing any time soon is slim. I’m going to continue reporting on the situation in Iowa all the way through Monday’s caucuses, but it’s looking like the Donald has this one in the bag.