What Makes President Trump So Special: A magic night in Lebanon, Ohio

There were some deeply touching moments in the Trump rally in Lebanon, Ohio which I partially expected. But we’re talking about a sitting president stumping for some midterm candidates here, politics is not supposed to be this exciting and people normally don’t show up five, six and seven hours early to stand in the cold and in the rain to watch a 72-year-old man talk. This is a human phenomenon that is unsurpassed in the history of the world, I don’t even think the great Winston Churchill could have brought out the crowd that greeted President Trump at the Warren County Fair Grounds on Friday October 12, 2018. I was just a little stunned by the event. I had a feeling that there would be a large crowd, but the sheer magnitude of it was just jaw dropping. There was a collision of Americana present that was obvious and inspiring and I thought John London from Channel 5 News in Cincinnati put his finger on it perfectly in his summation of the night.

There is a lot to unpack from this event and it will certainly take more than one article to cover it all but for the sake of brevity here I have to thank the people who gave my daughter and I the opportunity to witness this spectacle from the comfort of the V.I.P. section. Yes it was freezing cold and we got rained on and we did stand most of the time. But at least we had a seat and a good vantage point to watch this unusual moment in history.

I always feel sorry for people who don’t have that kind of access to these big Trump events, but as I looked at people’s faces on the floor, many who had been standing under the roof for more than four hours—before President Trump even arrived—they were happy people just willing to be near the star of the show if even for a moment. People were packed everywhere that people could put themselves for as far as the eye could see and it was quite something to witness. It was inspiring to say the least. If these people were willing to show up in the cold and rain of an October in Ohio, they would surely show up to vote for Republicans Trump endorsed in the upcoming election.

This was my oldest daughter’s first time to go to one of these events with me and she was very touched by it. She is a professional photographer and shares with me a tendency to like to view the world through big picture vantage points. The event organizers couldn’t have put us in a better spot for that particular venue, we had the top row of the bleachers just behind the president. I’ve watched President Trump speak many times so it was good to be behind him because my interest was mostly the crowd. The media never does justice to what the crowds look like from Trump’s point of view and we were fortunate to see the whole thing more from the president’s perspective even watching the motorcade role in to drop him off, and turn around all the vehicles to take him back to Lunken afterwards. President Trump does many very subtle things that only a polished pro like him can do on such large operations with many moving parts coming together seamlessly. He is super smart, from where I was standing I could see him staging up his entry onto the stage to match perfectly the various cable news top of the hour broadcasts, and he ended everything right on time like such a seasoned performer. But he’s of course juggling much more than that just in the complexities of his job. Yet while Steve Chabot was talking the President could get a sense that the crowd was drifting. People not under the roof of that magnificent structure on the fairgrounds were getting soaked, including my daughter and I. People next to us were starting to head for the exit. Trump was watching and he ever so subtly tapped Steve in the middle of the back to change things up a bit. Chabot took the cue and sped up his speech and Trump seamlessly changed gears and held the audience to his next twenty minutes of oration. Most people might not even see the value in such a thing, but that is one of the very raw distinctions that Trump has over everyone else in the world. He is literally a master communicator and he knows exactly what he is doing all the time. I continue to be impressed by President Trump every time I see him live, I don’t think I’d ever get sick of it.

After the event was over and people headed out to the parking lot, which used to be the old horse racing track that was moved to Miami Valley gaming several miles to the west my daughter and I lingered around watching the press. I literally stood next to an AP writer and watched her write the news feed of the event, which she mostly got all wrong. But she was shivering and tapping her feet viciously trying to stay warm. For people who haven’t been to these types of things before the media are always given a spot near the back of a rally to photograph from, and behind that raised camera platform is usually rows of tables so that writers can get their stories out. Mostly these reporters are like anybody else, they just want to get their jobs done and get home. Once the Trump supporters had left for their cars the reporters could relax a bit and get their stories out to their employers to meet their deadlines. Most of those reporters didn’t go to the trouble that John London did at Channel 5. They see hundreds of these types of rallies so there is no magic in them that they can see, they only care about the surface stuff. But one thing that everyone missed from a reporter’s standpoint that was very clear to me was how Trump handled the weather.

Remember when Obama had to have a military official hold an umbrella over him while he gave a speech in the Rose Garden? Well in these times of high insurance rates and overly cautious appraisals of everything I didn’t think Trump’s people would let him take the stage because it had been raining so long. The stage was soaked. Part of the stage entry was raised and ran outside of the roof that most of the rally was under, so it was exposed to the weather. Rain had clearly soaked it after many hours. But Trump did the right thing when he arrived. Some of his security wiped off the platform with towels and Trump walked out across it without any concern for his safety which these days was highly unusual. Lesser people would have called the whole thing off, but not this president.

Trump shows up to talk to his supporters under any condition, and that is part of his appeal. But when he left the rain had been coming down even harder. The safe thing would have been for Trump to take the steps down into the pit and stay under the roof, but no, he went back out the way he came in and the ramp wasn’t dried off at all. Trump walked across it like a seasoned pro not even worrying about slipping and falling. Trump isn’t afraid of little things like that and that is part of what distinguishes him from everyone else. It’s a subtle little thing, but those add up and they make Trump and all those he endorses that much more appealing.

Trump has made the Republican Party much, much better. I’ve always identified myself as a Republican, but I have never been prouder to be affiliated with it. Trump is a superstar, he was before he ever ran for president, yet he’s not so pretentious that he’s afraid of rain, or hard work. And nobody works harder than President Trump.

These rallies may cost a fortune to put on, and may be traffic nightmares, but one thing that comes out of them is that Trump talks directly to people who support him. He doesn’t hide out in the White House enjoying the luxury of the office. He works, and he works hard—and he’s willing to endure the cold and the rain if his supporters are. And that is what makes Donald J. Trump special, and why the Republican Party has a new life because of him. The Democrats don’t have anybody even close and they likely never will.

Rich Hoffman

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