More than 10,000 people schlepped to the Prescott Valley Events Center Tuesday to see Donald Trump in the flesh.
Fans started lining up for the rally — Trump's sixth appearance in Arizona — at 9 p.m. Monday. There wasn't enough room inside, so several thousand watched the Republican presidential nominee on a Jumbotron.
Taking the pulpit to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," Trump observed that he'd "never seen anything like it."
Well, he added quickly, "except at other Trump rallies."
The crowd skewed heavily white and over 50 and was just as likely to "tsk, tsk" with pursed lips, noses turned up in disgust, as it was to stomp and holler.
Handlebar mustaches, cowboy boots, and camouflage were in abundance. The most popular fashion accessory, though, was the American flag. There were flag capes and flag skirts. There were sequin-encrusted flag blouses, flag-inspired leather pants. There were flag earrings, flag fanny packs, and flag hair scrunchies.
The real estate mogul's speech covered all the usual bases — immigration, jobs, trash-talking — and then circled around again for good measure.
Trump twice recounted — in full — how Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server to conduct government business as secretary of state and then, after Congress demanded to inspect it, deleted 33,000 e-mails. (An FBI investigation absolved Clinton of criminal wrongdoing.)
On three separate occasions, he referenced his plan to force Mexico to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, eliciting deafening cheers each time.
"Who's going to pay for the wall?" he asked.
"Mexico!" the crowd roared.
"Who’s going to pay for the wall?"
Trump addressed recent allegations that he may have dodged taxes for 18 years beginning in 1995 by pointing out that he simply "used the tax laws of this country to my benefit."
"I know how the tax code works better than anyone," he said.
He promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, lift restrictions on oil and natural gas, and force business owners to bring manufacturing jobs back to U.S. soil. He also pledged to quell the flow of refugees from the Middle East, claiming that "we have no idea who they are and where they come from." (According to PolitiFact, refugees undergo multiple rounds of screening, beginning with the United Nations and often lasting years, before being admitted to the United States.)
"I'm going to keep the terrorists the hell out!" Trump said.
The event center reverberated with cheers.
Notably diminished this time around: the throngs of protesters that mobbed Trump rallies in more liberal pockets of Arizona. Only about 75 people, waving signs that read "Dump Trump" and "Trump is evil in heart and evil in mind," turned up to picket. (Prescott police reported that four people were arrested after clashing with Trump supporters.)
A lone heckler interrupted midway through the event, but Trump, uncharacteristically, didn’t engage. He simply stopped talking, turned his back and led the fans sitting in the bleachers behind him in chant.
As security escorted the protester out, the cheer spread throughout the event center.
"USA! USA! USA!" quickly morphed into "TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!"
Trump held up his arms like a conductor, basking in the music of adoration.
"Is there any place that's more fun and creative to be than a Trump rally?" he asked.
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