His rallies are like raucous circuses, interrupted by the clamor of a captivated crowd that is quick to finish his sentences. Hers seem more like sober presidential addresses, exhaustive litanies of proposals presented to well-behaved supporters.
Making matters worse, Hillary Clinton tends to arrive late, while the Donald Trump Show always begins on time.
With the US presidential election about to enter a new phase, the Democratic candidate suffers from a glaring enthusiasm deficit, threatened by Bernie Sanders in the final primaries in June and unable to contain Republican charges of ethical lapses fueled by her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.
The contrast could not be more striking between Clinton’s controlled appearances and the fervent chaos that surrounds the public events of the billionaire populist, who strides onto stage to the deafening beat of 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This.”
“Trump! Trump!” roared thousands of his supporters recently at a convention center in Anaheim, California, before breaking into cries of “Build the wall! Build the wall!”
– ‘Women like me’ –
His speech is improvised, basic, disjointed. He promises to bring manufacturing jobs back to America but offers no detail than to threaten customs sanctions against companies that move their operations abroad.
He seems at times to create his own facts. “I’m telling you, women like me,” he says; and, “The Hispanics are liking Donald Trump,” both observations sharply contradicted by opinion polls.
He stirs up the crowd by deriding the “stupidity” of the country’s leaders and contrasting it to his own business aptitude.
“We’re going to win so much you’re going to be so disgusted with me,” he concludes, drawing a thunderous ovation.
This is the Trump formula: his supporters — young or old, well-off or down-and-out, but nearly all white (a declining share of the electorate) — gamble on an “outsider” who claims to hold the secret to economic revival, as if America had nothing to lose.
“There’s nothing much more he could actually want in his life: he has a ton of money, he’s really famous, he has a beautiful family, so he’s really doing it for us, the American people,” says Joe, 25, a university student who declines to give his last name.
At a Clinton event near Los Angeles, impatience is palpable as supporters await her arrival. The playlist (Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez…) runs on an endless loop, and a sigh of dismay courses through the auditorium when a seventh speaker steps up to the microphone. Hillary Clinton arrives 45 minutes late.
“I guess we should have gotten a bigger room,” she tells the crowd of 1,200 in the suburban Riverside campus, apologizing that some people were left outside. But her advance team had chosen this gymnasium precisely for its modest size. Only Bernie Sanders has drawn crowds like Trump’s.