by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Anyone who watched Trump’s speech to 2,000 attendees of FreedomFest in Las Vegas on Saturday could easily lampoon his bizarre, meandering, and egomaniacal delivery. But by the time he left the stage, a big chunk of the audience approved of him, and many expressed a willingness to vote for him.
“Trump was upbeat, and, unlike other candidates, he’s a man of action,” Barbara Carter, of Las Vegas, told me after the speech. She is considering voting for Trump. A former resident of Wasilla, Alaska, she was a fan of Sarah Palin’s when Palin was mayor there. She says that both Palin and Trump cut through the politically correct rhetoric of our day and speak plain truths. When I pointed out that Trump never presents any evidence for his charges that the Mexican government deliberately sends rapists and killers to the U.S., she agreed that both Palin and Trump “may have been pushed onto the national stage before they were ready.” …
… “Trump hits a nerve when he talks about crime by illegal immigrants in Arizona,” Don Edwards, a retired economics professor from Surprise, Ariz., tells me. “He demonstrates that the issue has been ignored because of political correctness, and so he is there to fill the vacuum.” Nonetheless, Edwards isn’t close to considering Trump for president. “He’s economically wrong and uninformed. . . . [He]answered a question on the Federal Reserve by swerving into one-liners about the debt.”
But even some attendees who know enough to be wary of Trump’s Patent Medicine prescriptions are impressed by him. “He is forthright, clear speaking, and he shows leadership,” says Lloyd Nirenberg, a Californian who has a Ph.D. in science and runs a company specializing in rocketry. “I’ve been so disillusioned by other candidates. He is refreshing to listen to.”
Other people I spoke with in Las Vegas said that while Trump is a very entertaining speaker — “He’s like watching a train wreck; you know you shouldn’t look, but you do anyway” — he will probably hit a natural ceiling on his support. They noted the mean streak that lies just under the surface of every speech he makes.