Billionaire real estate developer and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump will hold one of his trademark mega rallies at the Baton Rouge River Center this evening at 7 PM.
When I led the push ten years ago to move Louisiana’s presidential primary to an earlier date and away from big states that overshadowed our vote, it was with the intent to make Louisiana a destination for candidates and not an airport refuel pit stop (if the candidates bothered to land here at all) as was the case prior to 2008.
So far two other Republican candidates have visited Louisiana this cycle for public events: Florida US Senator Marco Rubio and Texas US Senator Ted Cruz, who had a Baton Rouge rally the same day Louisiana’s new Democratic governor was inaugurated.
Though the River Center (nee Centroplex ) can seat over 10,000 people, Trump shouldn’t have any problem filling up the place
Having covered a few Trump events throughout the pre-primary period and in Iowa and New Hampshire, I can assure you that a Trump event is unlike any political rally that you’ve ever attended.
So much so, that his Dallas rally over the summer made news as people were selling “free” tickets to the event on eBay.
Rather than being treated to a parade of speakers filibustering on the topics of the day, one or two people, typically grassroots activists, will be invited on stage to say a few words before they turn the house music back on (always a selection of Elton John, Rolling Stones, and Pavarotti run on a loop). The candidate is then announced to the stage without much fanfare and then a show begins that would make Huey Long proud.
Sans teleprompter, Trump doesn’t deliver so much a speech but an hour long one-sided conversation with the crowd. And as he generally does not use notes, he studies the audience, pointing certain folks out and sometimes engaging in a give-and-take.
For example, at a stadium rally held in Manchester, New Hampshire on the eve of his big primary win, Trump spied a less than flattering looking impersonator at the back of the throng and insisted that he approach the stage so he could better see the homage.
And sometimes, Trump will repeat what someone hollered out close to the podium so the whole arena (and with hundreds of television cameras trained on him, the world) can hear. Even if it is a vulgarity about a Trump rival, as was also the case with the Manchester event. Once again, stuff you won’t see at a rally for anyone else. Ever.
A Trump speech lasts between 45 and an hour and is a mix of the talking points that have defined his candidacy and for that matter, the presidential race on the Republican side, and 160 proof candor…especially about the other candidates.
Trump in particular likes to give Jeb Bush the business on his style, sometimes mimicking him, and other times going after what he said at debates.
At a townhall meeting in Londonderry, Trump poked fun at Bush for referring to Rubio as his “good friend” at a debate, exclaiming that Bush in fact hates the man he once mentored. Tens of millions of Bush aligned super PAC money attacking confirm such an assessment.
But what Trump really seems to enjoy are the disruptions.
Some advice to social justice warriors – if you think crashing his rallies and making a scene is somehow going to make Trump mad, think otherwise for it would no less welcome of an incident than a fist fight at a Jerry Springer taping.
Trump often facetiously claims that he pays for the protestors to show up so the media has to pan the crowds at the back of the stadiums to prove that thousands have shown up.
Trump then closes it out doing something that he has been known to have an aversion: shaking hands with the hoi polloi along the front row.
You’ll get more bluster than policy details from a Trump rally but it will be much more enjoyable than watching John Bel Edwards making his pitch for higher taxes in a televised address tonight.