Violent Undertones at Trump Rally
Since the announcement that Donald Trump is now under Secret Service protection it was expected that people would have to go through metal detectors and have bags checked by TSA to get into his event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds last week. It’s the same procedure that Iowans have been going through every caucus season as more candidates take on Secret Service protection. However, unlike other events with the Secret Service, Trump had the Des Moines Police Department wearing bulletproof vests and Polk County Sheriffs watching the crowd. If the presence of multiple branches of law enforcement seemed strange, it certainly became self-explanatory through the course of the event.
Trump had two warm up speakers. The first came onto stage in the middle of an Adele heavy playlist. Tana Goertz walked in while Skyfall played loudly in the background. The selection of the song was interesting given the lyrics “and the sky fall, and we crumble,” but no one seemed to mind the imagery of a Trump nomination making the sky fall.
Goertz was runner-up on the third season of The Apprentice, and is one of Trump’s Iowa campaign co-chairs. She spoke about the compassion she had experienced from Trump over the years. She spoke about the help that she received from Trump as a woman and a mother. She also questioned Trump’s opponent Senator Ten Cruz’s ability to lead. Cruz is polling close to Trump nationally and passed him in Iowa in the Des Moines Register poll that was published days after this event.
Goertz spent the majority of her time urging the audience to fill out commit to caucus cards and to attend the precinct caption training the campaign was having. She concluded the speech will a veiled threat that the Trump train would steamroll anyone that gets in the way on its way to the White House. She also awkwardly welcomed Trump to the stage at the end of her clearly unprepared speech. The crowd responded by standing a cheering. Though it was muffled through the applause and Goertz responded in surprise to the crowd, telling us that he was not coming out. Goertz left the stage and the crowd sat back down anticlimactically as the play-list came back on.
After another Adele top 40 hit song, an announcement came over the loud speaker. It began by telling everyone in the room that Trump is a big supporter of the First Amendment, he in fact supports it as much as the Second Amendment. However, the voice over continued to inform the audience that this was a private event that Trump paid for and people tend to take advantage of his generosity. Since there was a protest area outside there would be no need for anyone to disrupt the event (something that has become a feature of Trump events across the country). The voice over told the audience that if someone should start protesting they should under no circumstances attempt to touch the protesters or harm them in any way. This announcement received a loud round of laughter from the crowd (because apparently the idea of physically harming a person that disagrees with you in hilarious). The crowd was instead instructed to stand and chant “Trump, Trump, Trump,” as the protester is removed by the overwhelming law enforcement presence.
One protester was removed during the event who was sitting behind Trump in view of the cameras. His screaming about Trump being a racist was drowned out by the “Trump, Trump” chanting. It was certainly a moment worthy of reality TV drama. Trump’s second warm up act was Iowa Senator Brad Zaun. His intro surprisingly included no treats, just an adamant request to fill out commit to caucus cards. Zaun told the audience that everyone that filled one out would receive a free stocking hat.
The final threat of the evening was the least subtle. It came from Trump’s National Co-Chairman and Policy Adviser Sam Clovis. He came to stage telling the audience that they were going to stand on the chests and throats of those that get in the way of their victory. This threat got nearly as much applause as Trump’s assurances that he will say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” if elected.
The entire event comes off sounding violent but mostly silly. The candidate can barely say one sentence without proclaiming his love for someone or something. One person asking a question was heckled by Goertz and Trump when he had trouble finding his words. And of course, the protester being removed by either secret service, the Des Moines Police, or a Polk County Sheriff added a touch of drama to what would have been a less than television worthy event. But in actuality the warm up speakers highlighted the seriousness of Trump’s plan. For everyone who thinks of him as the reality TV star candidate that has no chance of actually winning, should listen to Goertz and Zaun. They are recruiting precinct captains and having supporters commit to caucus. Anyone not taking Trump’s ground game in Iowa seriously should start paying attention.
Barbour is a junior political science and international relations double major at Drake. She spent last semester abroad in Amman, Jordan, studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics. Follow her on Twitter.