In his first visit to Georgia of the presidential campaign as autumn settles in, Donald Trump prepared his raucous supporters for a hard winter.
The “distortions” of the news media and hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads are coming, said Trump, the first-time candidate and polling leader for the Republican nomination.
“Remember,” Trump said, “it’s a phony deal.”
He was particularly galled by recent press reports about his exit strategy from the race, after Trump said that he would drop out if his polling support plummeted. Said Trump:
“I love this. I love the people. I love the country. We’re never, ever getting out of this deal -- never ever. … We’ll take it to Cleveland where they have the [GOP] convention. And afterwards we’re going to beat Hillary [Clinton] or whoever it is so bad -- so bad.”
In an hour-long speech before about 7,700 people at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross, Trump boasted of his high poll numbers and roasted his rivals. Jeb Bush is “low energy.” Carly Fiorina “got worst CEO in history.”
Trump play-acted a scene in which Marco Rubio meets with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“A guy walks in and he’s so drenched in sweat: ‘Hello, hello. Do you have any water?’ … This is not exactly a poker player, folks.”
The crowd interrupted him with chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” and cheered his derision of America’s “incompetent” and “stupid” leaders. They roared in response to his calls to end the Common Core educational standards, to ditch trade deals and to build a “good-looking” wall on the Mexican border. "I want it to be good-looking because some day they're going to name it after me: The Trump Wall."
Trump exaggerated the size of the throng, saying there were many people outside waiting to get in, when there was no one shut out.
A handful in the crowd were not fans.
Two high schoolers – Yu Jin Kim, 18, and Sara Park, 17 – who said they supported Democrat Bernie Sanders took off their shirts (but not undergarments) midway through the speech in protest about Trump’s approach to immigrants. One wrote “Legal immigrant, offense taken” on her chest; the other had an obscenity aimed at Trump.
"We stand up for feminism and immigrants," said Park, as Trump fans jeered and a few minutes before they were escorted from the building.
Before the speech, Trump met with about 40 African-American pastors who had traveled in from across the country.
“I can’t think of a better person, a better leader to lead this country to where America needs to go … to regain our position of prominence and respectability,” said Darrell Scott, a pastor from Cleveland, in a news conference after the meeting.
Among those introducing Trump was Herman Cain, the WSB-Radio host who at this time four years ago was a businessman-turned-presidential candidate. Cain offered broad praise of the “outsider” candidates in the field, without specifically endorsing Trump or anyone else.
He said those who challenge the Republican “establishment” are often labeled “crazies.”
“The more I see that kind of crazy," Cain said, "the more I like crazy.”