[By Marcia Milner-Brage, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA] The billionaire businessman Donald Trump is hoping to win the Iowa Republican Caucus on February 1st. He is campaigning to become the Republican presidential nominee.
This January 12th rally was in the West Gym at the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, the town where I live. As my husband and I walked across campus, the chanting of demonstrators grew louder and louder. A hardy cluster carried placards that echoed their collective voice: “Bigots Can’t Be President. Bigots Can’t Be President. Bigots Can’t Be President. Muslims are our freinds”. It was a blistering cold night, temperatures were just below 0F (-18C). Before following the lines of Trump supporters and fellow curiosity seekers inside, I eked out a scribble with my ungloved hand.
All—those with printed invitations or those without—had to pass through a metal detector and have the contents of pockets and satchels picked through by black uniformed police with ‘Secret Service’ labeling their bullet-proof vests. Each of my pens and water brushes were uncapped and inspected before I was allowed to enter.
We’d arrived two hours early to get a seat. From the balcony, I looked down at the gathering crowd standing below. Most kept their heavy winter coats and hats on. A glamorous, young woman, a runner-up in Trump's reality TV show “The Apprentice”, introduced the man who she proclaimed would be the next President of the United States, the man who is going to Make America Great Again.
Golden-haired Mr. Trump stood on the stage above the crowd. He teasingly berated Iowa for not giving him more of a lead in the polls against Senator Ted Cruz. “Come on, Iowa, you can do better." The crowd cheered when Trump threw out the carrot that he’d buy an Iowa farm, if the voters gave him the state. In his signature style, he made insulting or accusatory remarks about President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, the Press, former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Clinton, and Senator Sanders. Priding himself in never using a teleprompter, Trump pulled a piece of paper from his chest pocket and recited a poem, an allegory about protecting our borders from “bad people”. A woman saves the life of a snake, nurtures it, only to have the serpent deliver a lethal bite. “You knew I was a snake”, the snake tells her, as she succumbs to the foolishness of her naive, good intentions. “We will build a wall”, Trump promised.
During the hourlong speech, the crowd applauded, but never erupted in thunderous enthusiasm, as I had witnessed at the Bernie Sanders rally last month. No dissenters heckled. It wasn’t until Mr. Trump stepped down from the stage and the autograph-seekers surged towards him that the rally took on urgency and excitement. A phalanx of stone-faced bodyguards, the bulge of a gun under their suit coats, scrutinized the throng.