We’ll keep this relatively short, in the expectation that most of our readers probably watched the president’s extravaganza in Monroe last night. Trump spoke for close to an hour, and was joined on the stage by a host of Louisiana political and other luminaries, including the state’s two senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, Eddie Rispone, Rep. Ralph Abraham whose presence at the event did a lot to fuse together his vote and Rispone’s (at least, that’s the thinking of most of the insiders we talked to last night and this morning), and even Phil and Willie Robertson.
Trump’s speech was the usual tour de force, relentlessly trolling the Democrats and the national legacy media while touting the economic achievements of he country under his watch, talking about trade policy and taxes and ripping the impeachment circus the Democrats are undergoing. Along the way he would drop in statements here and there about Louisiana, often exaggerating but generally getting right the state of Louisiana’s performance and assuring voters of Rispone’s quality as a potential governor.
That said, the most memorable moments probably didn’t belong to Trump. To wit…
#1. “Unless you’re happy with crappy, I want you to vote for Eddie Rispone for governor.”
That was Kennedy’s line, and while another sound bite of his is getting all the national attention (see just below), this was the real money shot of the night. Rispone’s campaign, like Abraham’s in the primary, has been struggling for a sound bite which would perfectly encapsulate the message of the Republicans, settling for now on the messaging that if Louisiana wants different results it needs a different kind of leadership. That isn’t bad, but it’s not something people are likely to remember for decades to come. The “happy with crappy” line, though, is simple enough, mean enough and funny enough to spread everywhere and be remembered. It’s the quote of the campaign. Of course it comes from Kennedy, who isn’t even running.
#2. “It must suck to be that dumb.”
That was also Kennedy’s line, and it’s the one the national media can’t shut up about today. He said it as a commentary on Trump’s record and the Democrats’ impeachment efforts. The whole quote was: “In three short years, President Trump has doubled the growth in the greatest economy in all of human history. And do you know what our Democratic friends have done for him? Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him.”
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb,” was the punch line.
Leftist Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown went on CNN this morning and said he was “disappointed” in Kennedy because his statement was “so off the mark.” Lord knows what Brown is even talking about.
#3. The Rispone-Abraham rapprochement
This was what last night’s event was really all about – namely, to get Abraham’s supporters fired up to vote for Rispone. We’ll know soon enough whether that works, but the question has been all along whether Rispone could overcome his own self-imposed problem of having attacked Abraham in the primary with those voters. With the vast majority of them it isn’t that much of a problem; they’re Republican voters first and foremost and they’re really voting against Edwards more than they’re buying in to Rispone or Abraham. For those voters all you need for the most part is an “R” by your name and they’re with you in the runoff. But there is a smaller number of Abraham voters, maybe 20-25 percent of his voters or four to five percent of the total electorate, who might have been in play following the primary.
Edwards spent a million dollars running an ad in North Louisiana trying to peel those people off by reminding them of Rispone’s attack ads. There was an easy way to counter that, which was to point out that Edwards attacked Abraham long before Rispone did and went further than Rispone; Edwards accused Abraham of being a pill-pusher hooking people on opioids. Anybody put off by Rispone’s attacks would have to concede Edwards behaved worse, so the decision would have to revert back to whether you’re a conservative voter and if you are how you can stomach Edwards’ high-tax, low-growth record in office. Plus these are Trump voters, and here was Trump assuring them Abraham and Rispone are friends – and they appeared together, though an opportunity was missed to have them sharing the stage for a photo op.
It didn’t matter. That box got checked. All but the most die-hard of the Abraham holdouts would likely have been pulled across the line last night, and next week in Shreveport the remainder could well be won when Trump comes back for another rally.
#4. The clobbering of Hunter Biden
Probably the highlight of Trump’s speech, among many, as it was often hilarious, was when he launched into the abject corruption of Joe Biden and his efforts to chisel out business deals benefiting his son Hunter after he was thrown out of the U.S. Navy after being found with cocaine.
You already know the story that Trump recounted, but the best part of the whole thing was when Trump launched into the $50,000-a-month job Hunter Biden got on the board of the corrupt Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings without any qualifications other than who his daddy is. And Trump punctuated that by a truly hilarious exchange with a member of the audience in the front row.
“Your boy, how old is he?” Trump asked the audience member, who had a small child in tow. “Yes, you. How old?”
Eight, came the answer.
“Your son knows more about energy than Joe Biden’s son.”
It was classic Trump, and it brought the house down.
#5. The Robert Mills endorsement
It’s not often that a candidate for a state senate seat catches an endorsement of a sitting president, particularly when the candidate, his opponent and the president are all of the same party. But that’s exactly what happened last night for Robert Mills, who Trump endorsed over incumbent Republican Ryan Gatti. And Mills’ seat doesn’t even touch the Monroe area; Senate District 36 is centered in Bossier, Webster and Bienville Parishes well to the west.
It didn’t matter. Trump endorsed Mills and told people at the Monroe Civic Center to vote for him, which probably did apply to some in the crowd. He’s likely to repeat that endorsement next Thursday when he holds a rally in Bossier City, right in the middle of District 36.
Considering that Mills beat Gatti 48-38 in the primary and was just a few hundred voters shy of ending the race then, it’s more or less curtains for Gatti when Trump starts mentioning Mills along with Rispone.
And by the way, it didn’t get any better for Gatti this morning when he went on the Moon Griffon show and got taken to the woodshed again. We’ll have that audio when it’s available.