Donald Trump courts tea party voters in Nashville

30 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump courts tea party voters in Nashville.

NASHVILLE — A political and media circus rolled in to Nashville on Saturday morning, complete with balloons, cheering crowds, chanting protesters and the biggest name in American politics: Donald Trump. NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Donald Trump will decide soon whether to mount a third party bid if he loses the Republican nomination for president, the real estate mogul said Saturday. “I think over the next couple of weeks you’re going to see some things that are very interesting,” Trump said after a speech in Nashville to a gathering of tea party activists.Campaigning in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump on Saturday paid homage to his supporters — claiming they are a part of “a movement” and using colorful language to beg for their support. “This is a movement,” said Trump, who often speaks about himself in campaign appearances. “I don’t want it to be about me. The Republican presidential front-runner spoke at an event hosted by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, a conservative group not affiliated with the Republican National Convention typically considered to the right of the GOP establishment. Trump has so far refused to pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, saying his refusal to commit gains him leverage over the party establishment, which has been caught off-guard by his early dominance in the race.

Although the Rocketown venue south of downtown Nashville is typically reserved for small concerts or used as a skate park, more than 500 people craned their necks, stood on chairs and pushed through crowds to get a glimpse of the controversial business tycoon. “We’re going to take this country back and make it so great again, so strong again,” Trump said at the beginning of a meandering speech that drew consistent cheers and applause from the audience. But his hands are largely tied: He’ll have to sign a pledge to do so if he wants to appear on the ballot in South Carolina and potentially several other states. Beyond the bragging, Trump’s appearance represented something more tangible: evidence of a campaign that has grown more tactically serious as it wears on. The latest RealClearPolitics average of national polling has Trump with 23.5 percent support, leading retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, his closest competition with 10.3 percent. He kept returning to highlight those polls in a speech that touched on health care, veterans rights, the national debt, his television show The Apprentice, his books, his family and a slew of other topics.

Trump has repeatedly argued he is resonating with everyday Americans because he rejects political correctness, talking tough and speaking his mind instead. Trump made clear Saturday that he welcomes tea party support. “I love the tea party!” he told the crowd during a meandering, hourlong speech at a Christian music venue and skateboard park, making the case that they hadn’t been treated fairly. “The tea party people are incredible people. The group that describes itself as “a grassroots movement of Republicans that seeks to restore the conservative principles of the Goldwater / Reagan Republicans.” In other words, the sorts of Republicans whose support Trump will have to solidify as the nominating contest continues. These are people that work hard and they love the country and then they get just beat up all the time by the media,” he added. “You don’t know the power that you have.” The event came the day after Trump held a glitzy $100-per-person campaign event — which he repeatedly insisted wasn’t a fundraiser — outside of Boston.

But he also criticized the concept of “sanctuary citizens”; conservatives have blasted policies that allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the country after committing, at times, minor crimes. But multiple signs posted at the property’s entrance and along a staffed check-in table told those arriving to “Please have cash ready or make checks payable to: Donald J. While Trump claimed to be vessel for something bigger, he used long stretches of his speech to tout his smarts, his business savvy and his “vision.” “I said don’t go into Iraq even though I’m a very militaristic person,” he said. “I’m much more militaristic than Bush, even the brother.” Mixed in with Trump’s talk of a “silent majority” was a call for “law and order.” He decried the rioting that took place in Baltimore in April in response to the death of a young black man in police custody. “The police were not allowed to protect people,” said Trump. “We have to be tough. Trump for President, Inc.” Another read, “Entry Fee $100 Per Person.” Trump also defended a personal attack he launched Friday against Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been swept up in the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

With banners that read “We are not criminals, we are Tennessee,” they marched to chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” Trump spoke for a little more than an hour. Trump again speculated that Abedin had shared classified information with her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned after sending sexually explicit images of himself to women he’d met online. He said he loved Nashville, touting the Grand Ole Opry and country music, while noting that he purchased the property where Trump Tower now sits in Manhattan from a Nashville company. A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in an emailed statement Friday that there “is no place for patently false, personal attacks towards a staff member” and that Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”

At one point, as Trump was criticizing CNN’s coverage of a fundraiser he held on Friday — “We had this incredible event and they destroyed it,” he said — a supporter got his attention by shouting about “the criminal media.” Trump used it as an opportunity to again emphasize the importance of his supporters.

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