Donald Trump took the stage Monday evening in Georgia like a man with little time to waste. Speaking before 12,000 people at Valdosta State University (with thousands more waiting outside), Trump used his final rally before Super Tuesday to cut to the chase.
“I like to say I’m a commonsense conservative. I’m actually very conservative when it comes to the military, when it comes to the wall. We’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” he said as the crowd started chanting his last name. “We’re going to get rid of Common Core. Our education is going to be local…We’re going to knock ISIS out so fast.”
Trump, leading in Georgia with 49 percent to “little lightweight” Rubio’s 16 percent and “lying” Cruz’s 15 percent, took aim at former Mexican president Vincente Fox, who dropped the “F-bomb” in saying he wouldn’t pay for Trump’s wall.
“The reason he’s so angry is because nobody ever told them no before. He even got the Pope after me! The Pope!”
“So the Pope came out with a nasty statement. He corrected that statement. Just in time. Just in time.”
Trump stood on the stage in front of five young black men in the crowd, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with middle-class white men and a white man in a suit. When the typical protester started yelling, Trump barely took the time to address him.
“Quiet, quiet, quiet. All right, come on. Get out. Get him out.”
Trump took on the notion kicked around in the GOP Smart Set and by some in the conservative movement that he is not friendly to religious people, citing Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of him, which he compared to Falwell’s father’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan, who initially was not the favorite of Christians in the party.
“I’ve had tremendous support from pastors and clergy. I’m winning all of the evangelicals,” he said. “We’re going to do good things together.’…When it’s Christmas, we’re going to start saying Merry Christmas again, folks. You better believe it…I’m Protestant. I’m Presbyterian…You go to Macy’s, they put up “Happy Holidays,” they don’t have “Merry Christmas.” We’re going to have Merry Christmas in our stores again, okay.”
“I’m just the messenger. I’m just the messenger, folks.”
Trump introduced NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, who endorsed him from the stage, and drivers including Bill Elliott, Ryan Newman, and David Lee Regan.
“If the people who like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now. Nobody can win.”
It was not Trump’s most inspiring speech, but the man has things on his mind.
With hours to go until the polls open in eleven states, the Marco Rubio campaign is launching a seven-point attack on him, the media is having a veritable nervous breakdown about his poll lead, a Republican senator named Ben Sasse said that he’s going to try to get someone to run third party against Trump, and The Weekly Standard announced that its establishment-icon editor Bill Kristol is working “behind the scenes, to save the Republican Party.”
Rubio may be a “little lightweight” in Trump’s mind, but the folks backing young Marco are no lightweights. Those folks are watching their grip on the Republican Party slip away in an unprecedented populist phenomenon.
As Trump hurried off stage, shaking hands as he went, one wonders exactly what he was thinking about. Exactly what he was bracing for?
Maybe even Mr. Trump himself doesn’t know what’s going to come at him in the next 24 hours. But right now he needs to do what he’s done ever since he started talking about that wall:
He needs to stand strong.