Rallying in Atlanta: Donald Trump goes dark

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Updated at 5:08 p.m.:  Where to start? Writing about a Donald Trump speech is like trying to describe the whiplash that comes with a roller coaster ride. Ninety-degree turns in the middle of a dependent clause, trains of thoughts that dart into tunnels and never return.

Here's an attempt:

"The only category I do badly in is my personality. But that's okay."

"If Japan is attacked, we immediately have to go to war. If we're attacked, Japan can just sit there and watch it on TV. Who cuts these deals?...Why are we protecting people we're competing with economically?"

"I love the Twitter. It's like owning the New York Times, without the losses."

Trump likes the Keystone pipeline that ships oil from Canada. "We should get back. But we should get a piece of the action," he said.

On  Gov. Nikki Haley: "She said we're angry. And then in the debate, it came up....I thought to my self, I'm angry. People are angry because they're tired of being the stupid people....We have a right to be angry, because we've been sold down the river."

At the 14-minute mark, the spotlight on Trump goes out. The Republican presidential candidate likes it, and when they're turned back on, demands that the lights remain off.

The press area is located in the center of the room in the GWCC. The Donald has thrice pointed at us and called us terrible, evil people. Fortunately, we've got plenty of police watching us. Or watching out for us.

One protester has been removed so far. He looked like a lone actor. Fifty-three minutes into the speech, with Trump still speaking, members of the crowd have begun leaving.

Updated at 4:12 p.m.: The Donald Trump campaign just made clear that they'll brook no trespassers at the Georgia World Congress Center, which drained $20,000 or so from The Donald's wallet.

Said the disembodied voice:

"This is a private event paid for by Mr. Trump. We have provided a safe protest area outside the venue for all protests. If a protestor is demonstrating in the area around you, please do not touch or harm the protester."

If dissidents are encountered, members of the standing crowd (there are only a few seats) are advised to "Please hold a rally sign over your head and start shouting 'Trump, Trump, Trump!" until law enforcement arrives.

Updated at 3:40 p.m.: A political rally isn't a political rally without a bad campaign song. This one goes: "Don't be a chump, vote for Trump. They say he'll never be president, but I'll take that bet. He's got the money." And something-something-something, then "He's got the power in Trump Tower."

Former Georgia GOP chairman Sue Everhart preceded the campaign song. "I haven't endorsed anyone in years, but I'm going to work until five minutes til seven on Election Day, and I need your help," she said.

We've also spotted state Rep. Steve Tarvin here, and former state lawmakers Jill Chambers and Charlice Byrd.

Updated at 3:10 p.m.:  The program begins with a fellow who opens like this: "Let me reaffirm what evangelicals in South Carolina last night. I love Jesus and I support Donald Trump."

And then he told the same story we told you last year, about Trump's 1986 involvement in saving a family farm. Betsy Sharp, the daughter of the farmer who committed suicide when he couldn't pay his loans, is in the audience.

Original: A line of hundreds snaked around the Georgia World Congress Center on Sunday to await Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's first rally since his sweeping South Carolina victory, and it was chock full of the committed and the curious.

Near the front was Rose Bonk, a Columbus woman who has never attended a political rally before. When asked why she decided to make this her first, her answer came quickly:

"He hasn't asked me for any money, first of all. I'm tired of all the crap from politicians, and I want to give him the chance to prove he's not one of them," she said. "And I've been doing everything I can in Columbus to convince people to feel the same way."

One person who might need convincing is her husband Jim Bonk, who is undecided between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"That won't last," Rose quipped.

Terry Anderson, a retiree from Marietta, had a giant Veterans for Trump sticker on his chest. He said he was drawn to the rally Sunday by Trump's promise to upend Washington.

"He made us realize that if we don't have a border, we don't have a country," he said. "Trump's going to win Georgia. People in Georgia like someone who is honest and upfront. Not somebody like Hillary (Clinton). And that's all I'm going to say about her."

Cherie Edgecomb, a Cumming native, hasn't volunteered for a campaign since 1984 when she backed Ronald Reagan. Now she's throwing in with Trump's campaign, lending her time to knock on doors and call potential voters.

"He's not the establishment. And I'm just fed up," she said. "Everything that is wrong with our country - he will turn it around. He's going to turn it around."

They weren't all Trump acolytes. Rob Oldham leans toward Ohio Gov. John Kasich but he said he'll probably wind up voting for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio because he considers him more electable. Still, he couldn't pass up the chance to hear Trump.

"I've heard so much about it, I wanted to see what it was like myself," said Oldham. "You never know what Donald will do. He could say anything. I'm just here for the experience."


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