Photos and story by Blake Gillespie
Donald Trump’s entry music asks one simple question: ‘Ya’ll ready for this?’ The Trump plane moves into position on the tarmac behind the podium and 2 Unlimited’s 1991 hit “Get Ready For This,” notably from the Jock Jams compilation and Space Jam soundtrack, blasts out of the hangar’s sound system. An entrance fit for a presidential candidate who also appears at Wrestlemania.
Trump says he supports the veterans. The message “Veterans For Trump” is printed on one of two signs available immediately beyond the metal detectors at the entrance. Veteran lives matter and “Let’s put America first” is the message to a half-packed airplane hangar at the Sacramento International Airport on a hot Wednesday evening.
“I raised almost six million dollars,” he announces early in his speech. “I raised all that money and the press is killing me. They are bad bad people.”
He addresses the veterans donation scandal immediately, putting out fires at the podium in his red “Make America Great Again” trucker hat. He starts a few fires as well, like announcing attendance at 11,000 when the hangar actually only reportedly holds 2,500 (a fire hazard). He also lays into the Clintons, Obamacare, and generally touts facts to be quickly disproven in the hours post-rally.
That’s why he gestures blame to the media pen, causing a few thousand eyeballs to turn upon us, and boo as he refers to journalists as scum.
When Trump rattles off statistics relevant to the region, framing Sacramento as being in a violent crime crisis, he digs himself a two-inch grave.
“Last year the FBI found that violent crimes rose 25 percent in Sacramento,” he says. “Murder rates and assault all increased by substantial numbers. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Who again, Donald?
“The press, the press should be ashamed of itself!” And he gestures back in the direction of the cameras.
His media beef is extensive, but lately it’s been David A. Farenthold’s exposé in the Washington Post on Trump’s poor record of follow-through that’s been on the receiving end of his irksome attention. Farenthold found that Trump did raise nearly $6 million in an hour, but the distribution lacked the same immediacy. A month later less than half the money was funneled to charities. Millions more in checks that were post-dated May 24 (the day after the Post article) arrived in mailboxes at 11 charities.
It looks bad, but one supporter named Kyle Harris, a 23 year-old member of the National Guard suggests his opposition can’t operate on Trump’s level. Harris says, “either way, it’s better than what most people do.”
“All the other candidates use us veterans as pawns,” he says. “You can’t use veterans as pawns and make as much as he did. The other candidates don’t do that. They don’t raise $5.6 million dollars in a couple hours.”
Outside the rally veteran Jeff Peck, age 70 from Elk Grove, thinks Trump is all money talk. He stands with Trump protesters, chanting “shame” and demanding those in line look him in the eye. He demands to be seen as a veteran who disapproves of Trump. Peck thinks it took the Washington Post article to inspire Trump’s check-writing hand.
“Trump supporters can say that’s a coincidence,” says Peck. “After 150 days he happens to pay out the money on the day he was called on it. To me, that’s just what he does. He’s all about the money.”
He’ll never cop to it, but his speech suggested a candidate interested in tapering the sideshow element to prove his legitimacy on policy and the needs of the American public.
His second major message echoes the sentiment on his hat. He promises jobs return to America, promises to restore the country’s apocryphal greatness. This matters to Connie Krawesky, age 68, from Fairfield. She says it it’s Trump’s admission of anger over the state of things that resonates with her.
“When I heard him talk one time, the most important thing he said was ‘I am angry’,” she says. “And I’ve been so angry. I have friends my age that are scared. They don’t know what’s going on.”
When asked what scares her, the answer is direct: “the fuckin’ economy.”
In a recent speech in Elkhart, Indiana, a state that Trump described at length as a place where he is loved by its citizens and people like college basketball coach Bobby Knight, Obama called Trump’s tax plan as beneficial only to people like Trump.
“The Republican nominee’s tax plan would give the top one-tenth of 1 percent, not the top 1 percent but top tenth of 1 percent, a bigger tax cut than the 120 million Americans at the bottom,” Obama says. “It would explode our deficits by nearly 10 trillion dollars.”
Still, Trump closes in Sacramento after 35 minutes at the podium with words of assurance. “We are gonna win like we never won before,” he says and the crowd roars.
The disturbances to his rally mostly remain outside. The protesters number around 30. Police allow some confrontation with the line of supporters, but a well-timed citation of one of its leaders fractures the group as many observe the law by following and filming his non-violent removal. Inside one protester causes a brief disturbance to the speech. Trump is a softy in Sacramento. “Be very gentle, don’t hurt him,” he says.
The rally ends, attendees file out once again to 2 Limited’s “Get Ready For This”, and outside people address the media with renewed gusto for their candidate. Slowly, the hangar’s crowd shrinks to just a mogul, his security detail and his private jet.