Donald Trump brought his Texas-sized swagger to a Texas-sized rally of 15,000 people, declaring here on Monday night, “We are really killing it. We are killing it.”
As his lead in many national and early-state polls continues to grow, Trump gave one of the longest speeches of his campaign and continued to crowd-test the possibility that he may begin accepting large campaign contributions. With Republican rival Ben Carson drawing significant Christian support, he also touted his affinity with evangelicals.
Meanwhile, both the number of protesters that have become common outside his campaign events and the intensity of their clashes with Trump supporters reached new heights.
Recognizing the roused spirit of the crowd inside the arena, Trump reevaluated the label of “the new silent majority” he has bestowed on his supporters. “Maybe we should call it the noisy, the aggressive, the wanting-to-win majority,” he said. “That’s what it is.”
The raucous event marked one of Trump’s largest crowds yet and kicked off a week that will again have the billionaire businessman dominating the news cycle. Before he heads to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley for the second GOP presidential debate, Trump will talk national security and veterans issues on board a battleship in San Pedro on Tuesday night, as he amps up his outreach to the military community.
On Monday evening, the most pointed message at the rally came from Trump’s introductory speakers, tea party activists Katrina Pierson and Scottie Nell Hughes, and was aimed at the Republican Party. “I hope Donald Trump tears up that loyalty pledge,” said Pierson, who railed against the Republican establishment’s attempts to undermine tea party candidates, including the Republican National Committee’s insistence that White House contenders sign a pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee, whoever that might be.
Hughes said the Republican Party takes its conservative base for granted. “They think we’ll always be there. We need to end that this election cycle,” she said.
As it ended, attendees filing out, mostly white, clashed with 200 or so lingering protesters, mostly black and Hispanic. Police intervened in several heated exchanges, including some involving members of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Blue lives matter,” chanted several young Trump supporters.