COLORADO SPRINGS — Things that are good, according to Donald Trump: The conservative editorial board of the local daily newspaper here (unless they write bad things about him). Things that are not good: The local fire marshal.
For about an hour of stream-of-consciousness in two speeches on a college campus in Colorado Springs, the Republican Party’s nominee for president talked about that and more, swinging from the problems of global trade deals and currency manipulation to explaining remarks he’d once made about the circulatory system of Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
“Isn’t it better when we don’t have these teleprompters?” Trump asked at one point to booming cheers.
As part of a meandering monologue, he talked about how much he liked the old days, how much he likes the people of South Carolina, and how much he doesn’t like CNN. Also on his mind Friday: poor American infrastructure.
“We’re like a third-world country,” he said. “We have rotten airports.”
Trump said he believes he has the best temperament, “or certainly one of the best temperaments, of anybody who has ever run.” He promised to get rid of Obamacare, beef up the military, take care of vets, and strengthen the country’s borders.
He said conservative voters need to think about what the U.S. Supreme Court might look like in the future if he doesn’t win. If his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton becomes president, he said, America will look like Venezuela. His campaign, he also claimed, is attracting “a lot” of supporters of Bernie Sanders.
As the crowd waited, The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” played through the loudspeakers.
Outside, the line to enter the hall snaked down the sidewalk and around the building, a mix of young and old. Many wore red “Make America Great Again” hats. More than one shirt read “Hillary for Prison 2016.” One man held high a sign reading “Liar, liar pantsuit on fire.” Women waved American flags. A young man clutched a “laughing Hillary” pen still in its package, and two college-aged young men sported matching American flag blazers.
For Skip Eanes, a retired schoolteacher from northern Colorado Springs, Trump wasn’t his first choice. He was a Marco Rubio man, but now that Trump is the nominee he’s on board. Eanes said he was hoping to hear the candidate better articulate his message.
“One of the things I’ve not been real impressed with with Donald Trump is his ability to communicate in a positive, non-threatening way,” he said.
Darryl Glenn, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Colorado, was working the line and getting a warm response. During the final days of his campaign, at least one rival tried to tie to him to the #NeverTrump movement. But Glenn is firmly behind the party’s nominee for president and says he would campaign with Trump in Colorado.
Rick Radke, waiting in line and sporting a button for Ted Cruz on a floppy fisherman’s hat, said he started supporting Trump once The Donald got the nomination.
“There’s a few things I don’t like about him, but overall he’s better than Hillary,” he said.
Trump wasn’t the first choice for Judith Bingham, either, who used to run a small county newspaper for seven years in the Pikes Peak region. She liked Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina. But coming around to Trump after he got the nomination was easy enough.
She said she likes him because he’s an “apple-cart-turner-over.”
The road leading to the Gallogly Event Center on the campus of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs divided a crowd of protestors from those waiting to hear Trump speak. Chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, hate has got to go” mixed with “USA, USA.”
“What about Benghazi?” shouted someone on the Trump side. “What about it?” shouted someone on the other.
Inside, chants of “Lock her up,” and “Build the wall” filled the to-capacity hall of 1,500 before Trump took the stage.
“This crowd’s gonna get rowdy,” said Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House as he talked to reporters while leaning on the metal barricade of the press pen. (Once Trump entered the room reporters were no longer allowed to leave the pen.)
But the crowd did not get rowdy, even as Trump excoriated the press for its coverage of him.
He spent ample time defending himself from an attack ad by Hillary Clinton that rounds up some of his most controversial remarks, such as when he said about Fox News’ Kelly, “there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” But,Trump said, “I had in mind the nose, but it could have even been ears. I didn’t think of the other alternative.”
He reiterated that he was speaking off the cuff. He said America was going to start winning again when be becomes president. He said he’d stop Syrian migrants from coming into the Unites States.
And, in a campaign that promises to be one for the political gutter, he vowed to get even tougher on his opponent.
“I’m taking the gloves off,” Trump said. “Just remember this: Trump is gonna be no more Mr. Nice Guy.