The latest Trumprage:
Donald Trump said Sunday that the protester who interrupted his rally at a convention center here on Saturday morning was “so obnoxious and so loud” that “maybe he should have been roughed up.”
Mercutio Southall Jr. — a well-known local activist who has been repeatedly arrested while fighting what he says is unfair treatment of blacks — interrupted Trump’s rally and could be heard shouting, “Black lives matter!” A fight broke out, prompting Trump to briefly halt his remarks and demand the removal of Southall.
“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said on Saturday morning. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”
At one point, Southall fell to the ground and was surrounded by several white men who appeared to be kicking and punching him, according to video captured by CNN. A Washington Post reporter in the crowd watched as one of the men put his hands on Southall’s neck and heard a female onlooker repeatedly shout: “Don’t choke him!”
As security officers got Southall on his feet and led him out of the building, he was repeatedly pushed and shoved by people in the crowd. The crowd alternated between booing and cheering. There were chants of “All lives matter!”
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel on Sunday morning. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.”
That was a change in tone from just a month ago, when Trump would regularly tell his audiences not to harm the protesters who often infiltrate his rallies.
“Don’t hurt ’em,” Trump said at a rally in Miami on Oct. 23 as pro-immigration activists were led out. “You can get ’em out, but don’t hurt ’em.”
he Republican front-runner has long made provocative statements a hallmark of his campaign. Critics and rivals have said that Trump is stoking racial tension. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Trump’s comments about Islam are “manipulating people’s angst and their fears.”
Saturday’s racially charged altercation occurred in Birmingham, famous in the 1960s as a center of the civil rights struggle. The thousands who attended Trump’s rally were nearly all white in a city with a black majority.
Southall told the AL.com news site that the commotion started as he began recording himself and other protesters at the rally and saying that he wanted “Donald Trump to know he’s not welcome here.” Southall said someone knocked the phone out of his hand and made a racial slur. Then there was pushing and punches started flying, Southall told the news site.
A swarm of security officers quickly made their way through the crowd of several thousand, got Southall off the ground and walked him out of the building. Trump has had Secret Service protection since Nov. 11, and those who attend his rallies and political events must now walk through metal detectors and have their bags searched.
“He was so obnoxious and so loud, he was screaming,” Trump recounted in the Fox News interview on Sunday. “I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday, 10,000 people, and this guy started screaming by himself.”
As Southall was removed Saturday, Trump recounted how Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders responded to Black Lives Matter activists who came onstage during an event earlier this year.
“You see, he was politically correct,” Trump said. “Two young women came up to the podium. They took over his microphone. I promise you, that’s not going to happen with me. I promise you. Never going to happen. Not going to happen. Can’t let that stuff happen.”
Before the fight broke out, Trump had warned the audience that Islamic State fighters might recruit their children online and called for an impenetrable wall along the southern border, prompting the crowd to chant: “Build a wall! Build a wall! Build a wall!” In his nearly hour-long speech, Trump listed graphic details of killings committed by people who had entered the country illegally, promised to bar Syrian refugees from living in the United States because they might be terrorists and called for heavy surveillance of “certain mosques.”
“I want surveillance of these people that are coming in, the Trojan horse. I want to know who the hell they are,” Trump said. “I don’t want the people from Syria coming in, because we don’t know who they are. We don’t know who they are. And I don’t want them coming in.”
From the media area, reporters strained to see what was happening Saturday at the Trump event here in Birmingham. As CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond managed to make a video of the incident before Trump staff forced him back into the media pen. As the video circulated on social media that night, some of Trump’s supporters took to Twitter to call the protesters “thugs,” “Dem plants” and a variety of obscene names. Several wrote that the protesters opened themselves up to the possibility of violence by attending the rally.
Trump grew agitated as reporters shifted their focus to the protesters and away from him and his thousands of supporters.
“Look at those bloodsuckers back there,” Trump said. “They’re turned around, and they’re following the people, right? Because you have a small group of people that made some noise and are being thrown out on their ass. Right?”
The crowd roared with cheers.
Good luck finding photographic or video proof of Southhall’s claims. And he didn’t require any medical attention afterwards.
But I wanted to talk about something else.
Is Donald Trump a bully? If he is, will that hurt him with the voters?
Here’s something from an article by Josh Marshall that he wrote back in 2004 (before he lost his mind) talking about the “Swiftboating” of John Kerry:
There is a meta-debate going on here, one that I’m not sure even the practitioners fully articulate to themselves and one that I’m painfully aware the victims don’t fully understand.
Let’s call it the Republicans’ Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics.
It goes something like this.
On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry’s military service record and label him a liar. But that’s only part of what’s going on.
Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really — a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they’re tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.
In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.
One way — perhaps the best way — to demonstrate someone’s lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves — thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can’t or won’t defend themselves certainly isn’t someone you can depend upon to defend you.
Demonstrating Kerry’s unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he’s made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.
Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person’s supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who’s receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.
This is certainly what Bush’s father did to Michael Dukakis and, sadly, it is what Bush himself did, to a great degree, to Al Gore.
In other ways, Bush’s bully-boy campaign tactics play to his strengths, albeit unstated and unlovely ones. Many of the polls of the president have shown that while people don’t necessarily agree with the specific policies he’s pursued abroad many also intuitively believe that there’s no one who will hit back harder. There’s some of that ‘he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he’s our son-of-a-bitch’ quality to the president’s support on national security issues.
This meta-message behind the president’s attacks on Kerry’s war record is more consequential than many believe.
Trump’s critics say he’s a clueless oaf. Perhaps there is more to him than meets the eye.
Remember that first debate? According to conventional wisdom Donald Trump should have been on the defensive, apologizing and explaining his offensive comments about women. Instead he flipped the script and went on the attack against Fox News. Result? He shot up in the polls.
Trump acts like a bully and says outrageous things, then refuses to back down or apologize. Trump is still in first place. Coincidence?
I am no Trump fan, but maybe it’s time to consider the idea that he knows what he is doing and is in it to win it. Sure, he turns some people off. But he doesn’t need to win all the votes, he just needs more votes than the other guys (and gals).
So far, it’s working.