Overland Park, KANSAS — Donald Trump Jr. appeared at a fundraiser on Tuesday for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the secretary continues his run for governor of the Sunflower State.
Kobach interviewed Donald Trump Jr. conversation-style, with both sitting on stage in the 50-table room holding over 400 rapt attendees. The campaign said around 415 tickets were sold, leaving a full house for the event.
Secretary of State Kobach has known the younger Trump for longer than he has known the president, having met Trump Jr. on a hunting trip. But the appearance highlights the close ties Kobach has to the Trump family. Indeed, Kobach has closer ties to Trump than any of his opponents in the Kansas gubernatorial race.
Kobach isn’t merely friendly with the administration, but he has been a White House adviser and currently serves as vice chairman of Trump’s commission on election fraud. And like President Trump, Kobach’s campaign for the governor’s office is filled with similar themes to those Trump touched upon during his 2016 run for the White House.
Kansas was a reliably red state for Trump as it gave the president a 20-point lead over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and Kobach is currently a favorite to win the GOP nomination for governor.
Kobach opened the November 28 event saying that, if he becomes governor, he will oppose more tax hikes and even try to roll back the taxes recently enacted. He asserted that the tax hikes have driven business out of the state and have prevented new businesses from moving into Kansas from surrounding states.
The secretary also insisted that government can cut spending and said, as secretary of state, he proved that it could be done. As governor, he said he would institute the same sort of belt-tightening policies statewide.
Kobach offered transparency ideas such as requiring state legislators to record committee votes to show how they are voting on bills that never make it to the floor for an open vote. He then touted term limits and lamented that too many in government had turned away from the rule of law.
He also spoke about eliminating sanctuary status and stiffening immigration rules and promised to ensure that the state’s police agencies can work with federal immigration officials.
After his short address to the crowd, Kobach introduced Donald Trump Jr. to a standing ovation.
Kobach opened his round of questions by asking the presidential scion what it was like growing up with the future president as a father.
Trump Jr. praised his father as “tough, but fair” growing up. He said he fondly remembered that, as a child, he played with toy trucks in Trump’s office while the tycoon negotiated million-dollar deals at a desk only feet away. Later, as a leader in his father’s business, he said how amazed he was to be able to “play with real, giant trucks” on construction sites.
Noting that his father is just the same in person as he is on camera, the younger Trump next gushed over his father’s sense of humor and personality. “Real Americans get it. They see the humor. And he’s not afraid to show that personality,” Trump Jr. said.
Like all first-born sons, Trump Jr. insisted he “got to break in” his parents for his brothers and sisters but added that they all “have been very blessed” to be Trumps.
Kobach noted that Trump Jr. has a lot of children. To that, the president’s son replied, “I recently found out how that happens,” as the crowd laughed.
Trump also spoke about his love for hunting and when he first met Mr. Kobach. The younger Trump noted that his grandfather exposed him to the hobby, and he took it up with relish. He also said that it instills “patience and discipline” in young people and that he feels hunting serves as a great learning tool for youths.
Trump said that the opponents of hunting have it all wrong. “When you realize how wholesome it is,” he said, it is nothing like what detractors say it is.
Kobach then asked Trump Jr. what he thought of his father’s often over-heated Twitter account.
“Your dad,” Kobach said of Trump’s tweets, “you get to see what he’s thinking. He’s the most transparent president in history.”
In reply, Trump said he learned that “things can be so manipulated and taken out of context,” and he realized people don’t want to listen to what people in public life actually say. He also said it is great to let the American people decide and that they can ignore the chattering classes when assessing the president’s tweets because he is speaking right to them on Twitter.
But, saying, “they’re not even pretending anymore,” Trump slammed the media for taking sides when they are supposed to be “reporting” the news.
“I still think that the American people are rational,” Trump said, adding that the people can see right through the media’s attempt at manipulation. He also said he feels that the media are taking sides to their own detriment. In fact, he thinks the media have accidentally made the president the underdog.
Trump also felt his father had an advantage that most other politicians don’t have. Trump is the first chief executive who is his own man, Trump Jr. said, and “He doesn’t care [about the media’s claims], doesn’t need their money, and doesn’t need the job.”
Asked when he first heard his father say he wanted to run for president, Trump said, “I’ve seen his frustration build over the decades,” as the senior Trump became increasingly upset over the many broken promises he saw from politicians both locally and nationally.
Trump Jr. also noted that, when he was campaigning for his dad last year, he was constantly shocked by the many people who would walk up to him at restaurants and gas stations to whisper: “you guys are doing a great job.” It was those encounters that made him feel his father just might become president.
He also said the tremendous size of the crowds his father spoke to was a harbinger of a big win. He joked that, when the media reported that Hillary drew 30,000 people, often they weren’t there because of Hillary. “Yeah, because she had Jay Z, Beyonce, and Bon Jovi!” Trump laughed that it was natural to have big crowds when most were there to see the celebrities, not Hillary.
Trump and Kobach spoke for at least a half an hour to the delight of the crowd and, just like his dad, Trump Jr. came across as just a regular guy whose sincerity and warmth beamed through in his comments.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.