Trump’s Ohio Rally Speech Goes Off Script, Leading to Dehumanizing Rant

Former President Donald Trump is always in his least controllable state when he is not aided by a teleprompter, and Saturday afternoon’s rally in Dayton, Ohio was no exception.

The gathering at the Dayton Air Show venue was described as a fundraiser for Bernie Moreno, a local car dealership tycoon and business leader, who is running for Senate in the state’s upcoming primary on Tuesday.

Mr Moreno, who is running for Congress for the second time, has received Mr Trump’s backing for the first time and thinks that it would propel him ahead of his Republican opponents. The scarce polling available implies that the contest is close, with single digits likely separating the three leading candidates. Mr Trump’s choice has a modest but continuous lead.

Trump's Ohio Rally Speech Goes Off Script, Leading to Dehumanizing Rant

However, Saturday’s demonstration was far from focused on Bernie Moreno. Over several hours at the event, The Independent saw only one sign professing support for the would-be senator, and none was being sold by the several merchants along the approach to the airstrip.

That is not to say he was not addressed at all – current Senator JD Vance, a staunch Trump supporter (after a fairly embarrassing about-face on that topic), issued a sharp request to recall him to the upper chamber, while Mr Trump mock-pleaded with him to win on Tuesday.

But time set aside for the man-of-the-hour, whose election is only three days away, was overshadowed by Mr Trump’s own campaign for a second term and his rants against Joe Biden and the Democrats who defeated him in 2020.

And that was a sore subject. On this point, Mr Trump deviated almost entirely from his prepared speech, labeling his political opponents as inhuman: “In some cases, they’re not people.” He’d invoke the same dehumanizing images as he delivered his latest rant against illegal immigration, this time focusing on a new adversary in the form of the Democratic Republic of the Congo inhabitants. Repeating “They’re coming in from Africa,” the former president sarcastically stated, “The Congo’s a very nice place, I imagine.”

Trump's Ohio Rally Speech Goes Off Script, Leading to Dehumanizing Rant

In many ways, it was a typical Trump speech, with the exception of the former president’s growing inability to cloak his most alarming impulses in politically acceptable language, which was on full show.

Perhaps the most striking part of the event was its small size. The event was not hosted in a significant population center, but rather around an hour away from Columbus.

Overall, Mr Trump’s crowd size on Saturday appeared to be much smaller than his typical rally size; by eyeball count, the event appeared to have roughly doubled the size of ex-rival Nikki Haley’s final rally in her home state of South Carolina before that state’s primary election; perhaps a thousand people, maybe less.

The total was far fewer — in the thousands — than the audience that attended for Mr Trump’s last rally in support of a Senate candidate in the state, his appearance promoting JD Vance at an arena in Youngstown two years ago.

To add insult to injury, The Independent witnessed at least a couple hundred Trump supporters leaving the event while the former president was still speaking. Many cited the cold wind during the outdoor event as their cause; one woman openly stated that she “need[ed] a beer”. Others sought to beat traffic, which, even after the incident was over, was not particularly spectacular.

To be fair, this was an outdoor rally held on a windy day in the late winter. There were plenty of excellent reasons not to stand outdoors for hours to see a once-and-maybe-future president, but many of his most enthusiastic supporters did so nonetheless. One young woman informed The Independent that the first chairs with Trump supporters in line came at 6 a.m.

But if Saturday is any indication of what to anticipate from the rest of the campaign season, Mr Trump has a serious problem with his passion, particularly among independents and those who do not consider themselves his supporters (or superfans).

As the race progresses, he will likely gain hundreds, if not thousands, of fans. However, those thousands will be primarily composed of his most fervent supporters; his popularity among the general public is dwindling.

It’s unclear whether this trend indicates that Trump’s train is slowing or simply hitting a speed bump before shocking the DC establishment again in November. However, a Democrat who saw the former president’s speech on Saturday from the sidelines may have taken some comfort in the type of candidate Donald Trump is presenting and the type of followers he can still rally.

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