Donald Trump is a leader – get used to him.
As many as 10,000 people who wanted to see him Friday at Winthop University show clearly Trump’s march to the Republican nomination is as sure as Sherman’s march to the sea. Trump will crush his Republican opponents and smile as others squirm into forgotten history.
There was greatness, pure and proud, under the only Friday Night Lights at Winthrop Coliseum. Donald Trump showed he is a leader, like him or not. He was brash and bold and he smiled and scowled and forcefully boasted how he alone is the one who will save America.
“I had to run,” Trump told the crowd, so he could save the country.
Never miss a local story.
There it was. The guy said he is “The One.”
Trump spoke without prepared speech and rambled sometimes. Without question he was absolutely thrilling. He was funny at times. He had confidence. He used a bit of profanity – kind of like real life has a bit of profanity.
Sure, a few protesters were escorted out. A few were Muslims the media immediately made a story.
That was sideshow, done for the cameras and attention by both the protesters and Trump. The media took to escorted-out protesters like sharks to chum.
Yes, those protesters matter.
But the real story of Friday night and Trump was the thousands of people in the stands. The potential voters in the Feb. 20 primary and November election.
That was the story most of the media missed because they are penned up willingly like sheep and are terrified of not having the exact same story as the other media, so they focused on a few protesters getting the boot and the 6,500 others in the crowd, and the thousands more in the line, in the cold, clutching tickets who could not get in the coliseum’s capacity was reached.
These conservative and great people want somebody to say they matter because they do matter. Trump told them Friday. He would have told more of them if there were more seats.
As the doors were locked, a woman screamed “I wanna see Trump!” to the officers from the Winthrop police and Rock Hill police and federal agents. Hundreds more pushed forward trying to get in. Angie Wells, a female officer with great courage, took the words and did not flinch.
Inside Trump called out, “The fire marshal, whoever you are, we love you!”
The crowd roared.
The fire marshal in Rock Hill is Otis Driggers of the Rock Hill Fire Department. He was there Friday night checking exits and the crowd, and he decided the doors must close. Driggers, who takes his job of public safety more seriously than any politician takes a vote, willingly was the bad guy so Trump could be the good guy.
There is no push by thousands scorned to see any other candidate. Only Trump.
So much is made by the political and pundit/media class that Trump’s supporters are almost all white. So what. Trump showed that almost all white audience Friday night they matter just as much as anybody and owe nobody any explanation for their Americannness. These are conservative people in a conservative area of a conservative state.
The people there Friday night are good people. I was proud to sit among them and talk to dozens and dozens of them.
These are the people who vote in Republican primaries. It is their election on Feb. 20. Ten thousand wanting to get in an arena on a Friday night shows who will win.
“It’s a movement,” said Catawba’s John Stewart.
The signs in the arena read, “The silent majority.”
They were not silent Friday night.
This was not about Trump versus Hillary Clinton in November. That can wait. The people who would vote for Clinton will have their turn Feb. 27 in the S.C. primary, and again in November.
Friday night was about the people who don’t like the Clintons and Obama and liberals and are against amnesty for illegal immigrants and want to keep their guns.
Trump was funny and engaging, and if he has no details on how he will do things, so what. Just don’t think about the millions of Hispanic children of illegal immigrants whose parents came to America out of desperation who will be sent to Mexico or El Salvador or Guatemala if Trump gets his way.
Many, including me, tried to stand on the concourse for the bird’s eye view until police said they needed to keep it clear for safety. Trump was talking about how cops are the best. He said it as he talked about how “Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns away” and the crowd cheered for Trump.
There were no guns in Winthrop Coliseum Friday night as guns are barred from campus and were barred Friday by the throng of cops sweeping for them at the metal detectors.
Why does Trump have Secret Service? Why metal detectors? Why so many cops Friday night?
One answer. Guns.
But Trump says there will be guns everywhere, all the time, if he is elected. No more gun-free zones, he said. At his rally Friday night, if he had his way, everybody would have been packing.
Guns, in the hands of good people, would protect the good people from the bad people with guns, he said.
One of the cops on the floor protecting everybody was Lt. Tim Ayers of the Rock Hill Police Department. I proudly stood near him as the National Anthem was played and Ayers stood at attention, his hand over his heart. I thought of his courage and then thanked him for it.
Tim Ayers spent two years of his life risking his own safety putting Hells Angels gang members in prison for barrels of guns and mountains of drugs.
I moved around the arena a few times during the speech as the media of sheep sat in their enclosed pen, their corral, doing what Trump tells them even as he ridicules them. I sat in front of Detective Ryan Thomas whose days are spent putting killers of the innocent who use guns in jail.
These people I sat around and near and next to who are for Trump do not want diplomacy or politics. They want a leader, and Trump is one.