Ted Cruz is a liar, Jeb Bush is a clown, and Hillary Clinton is being protected by President Barack Obama to keep her from facing federal indictment. All-in-all, it was a run-of-the-mill rally for Donald Trump.
Actually, while the Republican Presidential candidate took several swipes at his opponents during the rally Wednesday evening at the Sumter County Civic Center, a large portion of Trump’s speech was – dare we say? – standard political fare for a front-runner less than a week before an upcoming primary.
Trump opened with a strong “get out the vote” push, reiterated his most popular campaign platforms –do more to end illegal immigration (i.e. Build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it), increase our military strength, take better care of the country’s veterans, and become better negotiators in trade with other countries – and closed by repeating his “Make America Great Again” mantra. In doing so, he presented himself as a candidate still fighting in the primary but with one eye looking ahead to a November general election. He didn’t even use one over-inflected “yuge,” although he did give the crowd a quick “you’re fired.”
That didn’t mean the capacity crowd of about 3,200 people – the vast majority of whom clearly, and very vocally, supported Trump – didn’t hear some of the attacks against some of his political rivals that his campaign has become known for.
A bulk of those attacks focused on Clinton. Calling her an “Obama clone,” Trump provided his personal theory on why her use of a personal email server while Secretary of State has yet to result in any criminal charges.
“Speaking of Hillary, with the emails, and all the things, I think she’s being protected. I think she’s probably going to be the one to run (with the Democratic nomination), because I think she’s being totally protected,” Trump told the crowd. “Have you noticed the way she’s acting with Obama now? ‘The President is right about this, the President is right about that. Oh, the President doesn’t want to do that.’ I mean, did you ever heard her so solicitous? I mean, you know why. Tell me why. She doesn’t want to get indicted.”
“She is in his hands right now,” Trump said, referring to his belief that the President controls her political fate, later adding, “Wouldn’t they have already done something if they were going to do it?”
Trump also continued his primary attack against Cruz, who recent polls have shown to be one of his chief political rivals in the South Carolina primary.
“When I’m on the stage with these politicians, some of them I like, but some of them are just terrible. They lie. They lie. This Ted Cruz, he lies. Look at what he did to Ben Carson,” Trump said, referencing the election-day scandal during the Iowa caucuses when staffers for the Cruz campaign, at the least, implied to Carson supporters that their candidate was dropping out of the race. “These politicians are worse than real estate people any day of the week,” Trump added.
Trump also took what should likely be considered a passing shot at Bush. Last week, when Bush was in Sumter, most of his ammunition during his stump speech was fired against the frontrunner. But for Trump, references to Bush were few.
While speaking about his plans to negotiate with Mexico about trade, Trump took a brief moment to take a shot at the former Florida governor. “And then you’ll hear, ‘Donald Trump is not a free trader. He’s not a conservative,’ You know? Like Jeb Bush: ‘He is not a conservative’,” Trump said, using a mocking impression of Bush to the delight of the crowd. “He’s like a clown. ‘Donald Trump is not a conservative.’ And I am a conservative, but I’m like a common-sense conservative. We have to be smart.”
Trump also made a brief reference to Gov. Nikki Haley, who earlier in the day announced she was endorsing Florida senator Marco Rubio. While he made no reference to her endorsement of one of his rivals, instead saying she was weak on illegal immigration, the mention of her name late in his 40-minute speech immediately prompted boos from the crowd.
While Trump has been using a style of language rarely heard from presidential candidates, he also has been drawing crowds larger than most candidates are typically able to, especially for a Republican candidate speaking in Sumter County.
“There are people that have been doing political campaigns their whole lives, going back 40, 50, 60 years, and they’ve never seen crowds like this,” said Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster during his introduction of Trump. “This place is bursting at the seams, and I’m sure there’s more people outside that can’t get in.”