Tomi Lahren, the millennial commentator fond of making racially charged remarks, is on tour in Arizona.
The 25-year-old lightning rod conservative – infamous for her televised rants against Black Lives Matter, victimhood mentality, liberals, and Colin Kaepernick – was in Glendale and Mesa on Thursday as bait for a high-octane real estate pitch called the American Money Tour.
Opponents call her "White Power Barbie." As a prelude to Lahren's speech, the venue cued up "American Woman" over the speakers.
“I live in California now, so it’s nice to get over here — fewer homeless encampments to look at as we drive through," Lahren said.
She was speaking to a Renaissance Hotel and Spa conference center audience of balding men in suits, middle-aged West Valley locals wearing khaki shorts and sneakers — several of them in red and white MAGA hats — and at least one woman who brought a dog.
Before Lahren’s speech, though, the audience had to endure two hours of a change-your-life pitch to convince them to buy into a real estate investing firm. Also headlining the tour is Josh Altman, a self-proclaimed real estate mogul and TV host on Bravo.
Speakers swore to the crowd that if they paid $1,147 for a three-day retreat next month, they could make tens of thousands of dollars flipping properties. The company, of course, would take a percentage of the profits.
When Lahren finally stepped out from behind a black curtain, the crowd rose to their feet after some light prodding from the moderator. Three massive screens behind her projected a 12-foot-tall version of Lahren alongside her social media handle. At this point, the room was maybe half full, with lots of empty chairs.
A vociferous Trump supporter, Lauren is the subject of intense criticism for her inflammatory statements and the racial animus that seems to motivate her fiery speeches. Lahren has called Black Lives Matter “the new KKK” and referred to refugees fleeing to the U.S. as “rape-ugees.”
In the same staccato delivery from her televised commentary, during her Glendale speech Lahren bashed a recent outfit worn by Hillary Clinton, took jabs at John McCain and Jeff Flake for not being conservative enough, and called liberalism “a mental disorder.”
She also expounded on her interpretation of the American dream – a vision of honest work and a life spent achieving things on your own, eschewing government handouts and free health care, what Lahren called the empty promises of democratic socialists Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Her American Dream spiel was also an opportunity for Lahren to demonize undocumented immigrants.
“We all have a different idea of what the American Dream is. But the American Dream, though, contrary to what some will have you believe, is not coming across through the desert; a river; in an 18-wheeler; in a trunk. That’s called illegal immigration. That’s not the American Dream,” Lahren said.
“Or as, Nancy Pelosi likes to call them, the Dreamers – also known as MS-13," she added, to claps and jeers.
Lahren first gained attention as a commentator on the conservative news network The Blaze, where her “Final Thoughts” segments often went viral in the conservative social media sphere. She later joined Fox News as a contributor after an acrimonious split with The Blaze stemming from a TV appearance where Lahren expressed support for abortion rights.
She sued The Blaze and founder Glenn Beck for wrongful termination. They countersued, but the parties eventually settled out of court last year.
Outside of the conservative media vortex, Lahren is a figure of disgust for many on the left. While dining at a Minneapolis restaurant last May, a woman hurled a glass of water in her face.
Two hours before Tomi Lahren walked on stage, a round-faced guy in a baggy suit warmed up the hotel's crowd. Gripping the microphone, he told them to write down a phone number, which he said was for Lahren.
“Her personal cellphone!” he exclaimed. “No, it’s not," he admitted a second later, grinning.
It was just a number for audience members to submit a question for Lahren to answer during a Q&A portion of her speech.
Altman – who hosts the Bravo show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles – spoke first after a highlight reel of his TV career, the soundtrack by Kanye West and Flo Rida set to maximum volume. He gushed about selling Tyler Perry’s Los Angeles home for around $11 million. Altman happened to meet the film mogul while working out at a high-end gym, he said.
And if the attendees signed up with the company, Altman suggested, they too would soon be closing life-changing real estate deals like him.
The event listing says the sponsor of the talk is Prosper Live, an investment education company that reels in customers via live events like Lahren’s speech, plus three-day workshops. The company works with a third-party lender named Insider’s Cash to provide commercial loans, according to its website.
During a break in the real estate pitch portion, a 63-year-old Peoria resident named Rose (she declined to give her last name) admitted that she was here to hate-watch Lahren’s speech. “I think she is just awful,” Rose said in a whisper.
The real estate segments seemed like a way to make money, she suggested. “I think it’s a way to get people here,” she said. “I don’t see what she possibly knows about real estate,” Rose said of Lahren.
For other West Valley residents in attendance at her Thursday event, Lahren is someone to be admired.
“I think she’s a dynamic individual, given her youth,” said Don Nelson, a 60-year-old plumbing parts distributor from Surprise.
He appreciates Lahren’s support of President Trump. He wants to see term limits for lawmakers, and raised the pro-Trump conspiracy theory of the Deep State, a cabal of government officials who are trying to bring Trump down, according to the president’s ardent defenders on cable news and the internet.
“I’m tired of the Deep State. I’m tired of the establishment,” Nelson said.
Lahren didn’t mention the real estate pitch from her opening acts, devoting her time to criticizing what she views as the nation’s victimhood mentality, a theme that consumes Lahren on her show.
“If you wake up each and every day and you say, ‘Poor me,’ and you wonder who’s going to take care of you that day or you wonder who’s going to feel sorry for you that day, you’re never going to achieve anything,” Lahren said.
“No one ever accomplished anything waiting for their handout,” Lahren added.
She gave some advice to the young women in the audience about finding their voice and acting with confidence. “That’s not a feminism thing. That’s a female empowerment thing.” Her voice took an edge. “We don’t even say feminist anymore 'cause they hijacked it and they ruined it.”
“They made it about hating men and free things and horrible hats and haircuts,” she added, to huge applause.
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As promised, she answered questions submitted via text in a Q&A.
Her greatest inspiration? Beyond her own parents, the "military and law enforcement." Favorite president? "That's an easy one: This one!" Does she have a boyfriend, and if not, what are her plans tonight? She does have a boyfriend, Lahren explained, and he was in the room. "If I didn't have my current boyfriend, I'd be looking for Paul Ryan," Lahren said, in spite of reservations about his politics.
Then, after speaking for barely over 30 minutes, Lahren put down the mic. She disappeared behind the curtain once again. She was headed to deliver another speech in Mesa, part of the same tour.
People gathered up their flyers and promotional materials, including an investment course on two CDs, “Making Money From Every Market.” They wandered toward the daylight beyond the windowless conference room doors.