COLORADO SPRINGS — Flanked by teleprompters outside an airport hangar as the sun set against the fuselage of his private plane, Donald Trump offered a scripted speech miles from the meandering monologue he gave the last time he was in town.
Instead of launching into an attack on a local public official— Trump famously ripped the Colorado Springs fire marshal in July— the Republican presidential nominee began by listing recent polls showing him in the lead.
“In other words, I think we’re going to win,” he said, describing his bid as a kind of movement never before seen in this country.
His speech in the Springs came fresh off new headlines of incendiary comments he made urging Hillary Clinton’s security detail to disarm just to “see what happens to her.” But Saturday night, at the Colorado Springs airport, Trump held back. When the crowd broke into a chant of “Lock her up,” Trump responded with: “By the way, when you say that, let’s just win on November 8.”
The last time he was in the Springs and the same chant broke out, he promised there would be “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” He also said in his previous Springs speech, “Isn’t it better when we don’t have these teleprompters?”
But from behind a podium at the hangar and dressed in a dark sport coat and bright white “Make America Great Again” cap, Trump stuck to business.
“My economic agenda can be summed up in three very beautiful words, you know what they are? Jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said. “We’re going to have a massive tax reduction— big, big-league tax reductions for working and middle class families.”
Under a Trump presidency, he promised, America would have “job-producing deals, not job-sucking deals.”
And “these press,” he sneered to loud boos, “they are so dishonest.”
Trump pledged to reduce regulations and re-negotiate trade agreements, and repeal and replace Obamacare, but didn’t give specifics. He said he’d push for affordable child care.
As for Supreme Court justices, Trump said he would appoint jurists “who know the Constitution.” He said his administration would provide school choice “to every disadvantaged child in America” and end Common Core and illegal immigration. He said he would reduce government and “save” the Second Amendment.
“And yes, we will build a wall,” Trump said to booming cheers. “We’re going to build a wall, and you know what, they don’t know it yet, but they’re starting to get the idea and they’re great people and they have very good leaders— much smarter than our leaders, believe me—but Mexico will be paying for that wall, OK? They will be paying for it.”
At that moment in the speech, a protester was escorted out from the center of the crowd as Trump’s supporters shouted him down. In earlier Trump rallies the candidate might have drawn attention to the ruckus—”I’d like to punch him in the face”— but in the Springs he ignored the dustup and continued reading from prepared remarks about defeating ISIS and “radical Islamic terrorism.”
The real estate mogul and former reality TV star said the U.S military is depleted.
“This is not the United States of America, folks,” he said.
The large, mostly white crowd of old and young was a general cross section of Colorado Springs. When they chanted “USA,” Trump told them, “That is so correct.”
At one point, Trump stopped himself from using a curse word.
“I don’t give a you-know-what,” he said. “I don’t even use that word anymore because if I used that word they’ll say ‘He used foul language.’”
He has, he told the crowd, changed.
“See, I’ve learned,” he said to laughs, drawing out the last word. “It’s been a process.”
When he got around to attacking Clinton, he raised her recent remark that half of his supporters are “deplorables,”and hammered her on her email controversy and record as secretary of state.
He painted a dystopia of jobless crime-ridden cities full of failing schools and bloodied by gun violence.
“And to the African Americans living in those communities, I say vote for Donald Trump,” he said. “What do you have to lose?”
In a Trump America, “American cars will travel the roads, American planes will soar the skies, and American ships will patrol the seas.”
Following the 40-minute speech, the Rolling Stones song “You can’t always get what you want” blared through loudspeakers and supporters raised their phone screens toward Trump Force One as the candidate waved from the airplane’s doorway.
This new, scripted Trump in Colorado Springs was evident for Susan Schramek, a retiree from the area who held a Trump sign near a metal barricade. She noticed he hadn’t called Clinton names such as “Crooked Hillary” in his speech.
“I’m glad he stopped,” she said. “We are smart Americans, we are savvy, we don’t need that anymore. We can make our own decisions. Stick to the issues.”
Doug Taylor, a healthcare marketing executive from Castle Rock, wearing a black T-shirt reading #BasketOfDeplorables, says he was offended by Clinton’s remark last week that half of Trump’s supporters fit in that basket.
But he, too, hopes Trump sticks with his new, less Trumpian delivery.
“He’s an amazing guy because he speaks extemporaneously, and he does a pretty good job as far as that goes, but now that he’s staying on message it will appeal a lot more to the establishment media and so forth,” Taylor said. “He’s got a great chance.”
As the engines of Trump Force One rumbled on the tarmac and the plane moved forward, it revealed a full orange moon over the eastern plains.
More than one supporter said it looked like an omen.