At Massive Dallas Rally, Trump's Speech Lacks Policy

Sep 15, 2015
Originally published on September 15, 2015 6:56 pm

Donald Trump's rallies tend to feel more like a playoff game or music concert than electoral politics. There's an expectation of entertainment — older couples are dressed up, and people are friendly and excited. Monday night's large rally at a basketball arena in Dallas was no exception.

"He's telling me everything I want to hear. I'm for change; I'm fed up with the 30 years of empty suits in Washington," said Brian Markum, an energy consultant who came to the rally with his wife.

Outside the arena, thousands of mostly white Trump supporters streamed past about 1,000 Hispanic protesters holding a fiesta complete with music and Trump pinatas, chanting, "This is America."

The 20,000-seat arena was about three-quarters filled, and Trump sounded pleased.

"The silent majority, it's back, and it's not silent. I think we should call it — maybe we should call it the noisy, the aggressive, the wanting to win, wanting to win majority. That's what it is," Trump said.

Much of the speech was a long riff on The Donald, boasting about how much money he's made doing The Apprentice and pontificating about those who underestimated him.

"So, the debate. I hear they're all going after me," he said. "Whatever, whatever. No, I hear it. ... You know, at the beginning, three, four months ago — he's just doing this for fun, he's doing this for his brand. I need this, like, for my brand."

He woke the crowd up by turning to immigration. "We have to build a wall, folks," he said to raucous applause. "We have to build a wall. And a wall works. All you have to do is go to Israel, say, 'How's your wall working?' "

Trump painted America as a patsy that takes Mexico and other country's rejects. "Their leaders are smarter than our leaders; they're more cunning, they're tougher, they're better, and we take 'em."

The speech was thin on policy — his message at this point is that America needs to hire a guy like him and trust him to clean up the country. And it's working.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We begin this hour with politics and the candidate who's become the story of this primary season so far - Donald Trump. Like his fellow Republican contenders, Trump is headed to a debate tomorrow at the Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California. But, he stopped in Dallas yesterday for a huge rally at the American Airlines Center. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was there along with some 15,000 Trump supporters.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: It's a different kind of vibe when you attend a Donald Trump rally. It doesn't feel like electoral politics. There's an expectation of entertainment in the air like it's a playoff game or a music concert. Older couples are dressed up. People are friendly, excited.

RYAN MARCUM: He's telling me everything I want to hear. I'm for change. I'm fed up with the 30 years of empty suits in Washington.

GOODWYN: Ryan Marcum and his wife, Rita, came beautifully attired. He's a successful consultant in the energy business, and both of them are firmly in Donald Trump's corner.

MARCUM: I'm tired. I'm worn out, and I'm going to vote for Trump until I see someone else that can do a better job in my mind than he can.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOODWYN: Outside the arena, it's an American scene. Thousands of mostly white Trump supporters stream past about a thousand Hispanic protesters who are holding a big fiesta complete with music, Trump pinatas, a voter registration booth and chanting.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) This is America. This is America.

GOODWYN: Inside the basketball arena, it's nearly three quarters filled, and it's clear Trump is pleased.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: The silent majority - it's back and it's not silent. I think we should call it - maybe we should call it the noisy, the aggressive, the wanting to win - wanting to win - majority. That's what it is.

GOODWYN: A Donald Trump speech is unlike any political speech you've heard before. It's less political and more like a nightclub act. But instead of jokes, it's a long riff on the Donald.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: So - the debate. I hear they're all going after me. Whatever. Whatever. No, I hear it.

You know, at the beginning - three, four months ago - well, he's just doing this for fun, he's doing this for his brand. I need this, like, for my brand.

GOODWYN: Trump seemed to bore the crowd with a long-winded boast of how much money he's made doing his TV show, "The Apprentice" - $212 million by the way. And for the first 40 minutes, that's how it went - Trump pontificating about those who've underestimated him, how dumb they were, how much smarter he is than other politicians as well as the leaders of other countries. Finally, he woke the crowd up, turning to the issue that's made him a contender.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We have to build a wall, folks.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We have to build a wall. And a wall works. All you have to do is go to Israel, say, how's your wall working? Walls work.

GOODWYN: Trump painted America as a patsy who takes Mexico's and other countries' rejects.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Their leaders are smarter than our leaders. They're more cunning. They're tougher. They're better. And we take them - Kate in San Francisco, this magnificent young woman, shot in the back by a guy that was sent over here, probably pushed over - who knows? But it was an illegal immigrant.

GOODWYN: To say Trump was thin on the policy front is an understatement. His message at this point is that America needs to hire a guy like him and then trust him to clean up the country. And it's working.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We will make America great again. Thank you. Thank you.

GOODWYN: Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.