Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trump in Connecticut


Both Presidential candidates made an appearance in my home state of Connecticut this past week. The settings could not have been more different. Last Saturday Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, appeared at the Pitt Center, the sports complex of nearby Sacred Heart University, to address a crowd of 5000 standing in a packed gymnasium. There was no cost to attend but tickets were needed. The response was so great that loudspeakers had to be set up outside to handle the overflow despite the 100-degree heat.

On Monday evening Hillary Clinton, the Democrat candidate, attended a fund raising dinner at a 14-million-dollar estate in Greenwich, the wealthiest town in the State. Attendees to the dinner paid about $33000 per plate to the Clinton campaign. How is it possible for Democrats to keep up the charade that they are the party of the poor, or that they are really concerned about income inequality? There was no news in the paper today about what transpired at the Greenwich dinner but there was a story about the Trump appearance in the CT Post, my hometown newspaper.

I read the story but failed to find more than a handful of sentences about what Trump actually said in his talk. Instead, the newspaper gave most of its attention to some local small-fry Republican politicians who refused to attend the Trump rally. Is it any wonder that Trump thinks the media is biased and dishonest?

Although I did not attend the Trump rally, my wife got a report from a friend who did. She related that the large crowd packed into the gym was well-behaved and orderly throughout the presentation despite the heat that strained the effectiveness of the A/C system, and the lack of any seating. She was also impressed by the number of young people in attendance, especially young women.

For details of Trump’s presentation, I watched a YouTube video. I did not take notes but must say that I was extremely impressed. Trump was in good form. He spoke for almost an hour with ease and humor, and never resorted to a teleprompter.

He began by introducing Giacomo Brancato, a local high school student, who had used the Make-A-Wish organization to wish for a meeting with Trump. Giacomo had overcome a bout with cancer and gone on to be a star athlete for the local Fairfield high school team. Trump’s interplay with the young man and his family was charming.

Getting down to business Trump raised the issues of Hillary Clinton’s competence and experience. He noted that when she had run for the Senate in New York, she had promised to bring 200000 new jobs to economically depressed upstate New York. He claimed that she failed to keep that promise and that today that region is a disaster area.

He contrasted her performance with his own in helping to revitalize New York City. He read from an opinion piece that credited Trump with daring to invest and build in the City back in the years when it was verging on bankruptcy. Then President Gerald Ford had told the City to “Go to Hell” in response to pleas for Federal assistance.

Trump also contrasted his own expertise with that of the Obama Administration. He said that a new Veteran’s hospital under construction was over a year behind schedule and was way over budget. He compared that with a new hotel his organization was building on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, right down the street from the White House. It was under budget and a year ahead of schedule.

Perhaps thinking of the Clinton fund raiser in Greenwich, Trump pointed out the contrast between his supporters and hers. He held up a placard that showed that wealthy hedge fund managers had contributed over $48 Million to the Clinton campaign. So far, Trump’s campaign had received a total of $19000 from these investment giants.

Trump did spend a good deal of time criticizing the media for its “dishonesty” during the campaign. In particular, he blamed the N.Y. Times, a paper he felt was on its last legs financially, and CNN, a cable news channel whose ratings were consistently dropping. The failure of my own local paper to provide an account of his remarks, and its continued use of anti-Trump cartoons on the editorial page supports his argument.

Trump’s most telling and perceptive comment came almost out of the blue. He mentioned that when Hillary Clinton was asked what she thought of him, she replied that she didn’t like his “tone.” Actually, this is the opinion that many people have of Trump. He replied that in the Middle East Islamic radicals are cutting off the heads of people, mainly Christians, drowning others in steel cages, and burying others alive in the desert sand. Yet, she doesn’t like my “tone”.

Some commentators criticized Trump for even coming to Connecticut, a traditional Blue state that hasn’t voted for a Republican candidate for President in decades. Even though most of them don’t want him to win, they argue that his time would be better spent in the so-called battleground states. Yet, I like to think that my home state is not as “Blue” as generally believed. In the last two campaigns for Governor, the Democrats eked our very narrow victories mainly with the support of political machines in cities like neighboring Bridgeport.

At the rally in Fairfield, Trump spent a good deal of time criticizing the Democrat governor of Connecticut for leading the State down the path of economic decline. In particular, he cited the Governor’s failure to keep General Electric from moving its corporate headquarters from Fairfield into neighboring Massachusetts. No matter what one thinks of Trump’s tone, why should anyone in Fairfield or Connecticut vote for the Democrat candidate?


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