This takes chutzpah:
Someone in Donald Trump’s camp, or perhaps the candidate himself, must have worried about how friendly an audience Trump would find in Burlington, the liberal bastion where rival Bernie Sanders began his political career.
The campaign’s solution was crude, yet simple: As attendees filed into the Flynn Center for a Trump rally Thursday evening, his staff barred people who refused to pledge allegiance to the candidate.
For 70 minutes, the Republican presidential candidate enthralled a capacity crowd. Though he was unable to prevent all protesters from entering the theater, Trump stifled any large demonstrations that would give the impression he was unwelcome in Burlington.
Rally attendees said they were surprised to be confronted with a loyalty test at the theater’s entrance.
“There was a man in a suit who asked us if we were Trump supporters,” said Jennifer Vincent of South Burlington. “A couple ahead of us said they weren’t, and they were escorted out.”
Burlington City Councilor Joan Shannon refused to declare herself a Trump supporter and also was barred. Shannon, the former council president, said she was flabbergasted Trump would weed out people who simply wanted to hear the candidate speak.
“What was the point of tickets exactly?” Shannon said. “It was incredibly dishonest.”
Trump defended the tactic in a statement to the Burlington Free Press.
“We have more than 20,000 people that showed up for 1,400 spots,” the billionaire New York businessman said in a statement. “I’m taking care of my people, not people who don’t want to vote for me or are undecided. They are loyal to me, and I am loyal to them.”
As hard as his campaign tried, a few dozen protesters evaded detection and slipped into the theater. At least six times, groups interrupted Trump.
“Get ’em out!” Trump barked, as his supporters shouted down protesters with an almost religious fervor. Trump egged them on and criticized Burlington police for not removing dissenters more quickly.
Each time he would continue, with the same topic or by launching into another. Trump was blunt and unapologetic. His supporters loved him.
“He’s going to be a great president,” Lynn Doney of Northfield said after the speech.
I am no Trump supporter, but this was fucking brilliant. He intentionally generated controversy by invading enemy territory and pissing off as many Democrats as he could. He projected strength by ejecting protesters, sending a message that he would do the same with illegal immigrants. Then he sent a warning to the GOPe:
“I’m taking care of my people, not people who don’t want to vote for me or are undecided. They are loyal to me, and I am loyal to them.”
Like I said, it was fucking brilliant. “Support me or get tossed out in the cold!”
One of the more amusing moments being shown in a loop on cable news today came when Trump yelled for one protester to be removed and told his security people that they could keep his coat.
“It’s about ten below zero outside. Tell him we’ll mail it to him in a couple of weeks.”
The crowd ate it up like a fat kid with a cake.
As we approach the actual voting part of the election process, Trump is closing the sale. The GOPe looks on in impotent rage as he methodically eliminates the competition. He is already turning some of his rhetorical artillery in Hillary’s direction.
Meanwhile, the other GOP candidates are now squabbling with each other.