Yesterday afternoon from a motel room in Auburn, California, I was able to watch Fox News’ ambivalent live reporting of Trump’s triumph in Mobile, Alabama. Despite reporters’ efforts to downplay the size of the crowd ‘a packed stadium but nowhere near the 40,OOO he predicted’, it was clear that Mobile had turned out to welcome The Donald in massive numbers.
Fox insisted on calling it a rally and comparing numbers to Obama rallies in 2007. My definition of a rally is a gathering of Party supporters and loyalists, summoned by the organization to portray strength. The tens of thousands who turned up at Mobile for Trump were not summoned but demonstrated a spontaneous expression of support. They were not rounded up by an organization and the result of meticulous pre-planning, but an insistent people who threatened to overwhelm two small venues that Trump had arranged. It had been arranged as a town hall style meeting and became a monster meeting at the insistence of the public.
This alone reveals that the Republican campaign has been transformed and the old methods have been set aside. Trump appears to have become a National front-runner without even a skeleton National organization, without buying TV advertising and without recruiting big donors. In stark contrast Jeb Bush has been hailed by the experts as an inevitable front-runner because he has a National network of employees, advisors and volunteers and has raised large amounts from big donors.
Trumps poll numbers in most States showing substantial leading margins and his over-crowded meetings in Iowa and New Hampshire where he has eclipsed Bush and others, were dwarfed by the attendance and circumstances of the giant gathering last night in Mobile. At the very time that the multitudes were gathering there, some experts were crowing that his support had peaked and Bush was contacting Alabama’s Republicans to warn them Trump was not one of them — but he was.
In Mobile, Trump met with enormous enthusiasm and it was hard not to conclude that he had drawn more than the Republican faithful. If so, this is extremely significant. Early in the meeting he summoned the outstanding conservative Senator Jeff Sessions to the platform but the circumstances suggested that Trump was endorsing Sessions rather than the other way around. I note this not to diminish Sessions but to acknowledge that at this point in time Trump is in the conservative driving seat. He has set the political agenda, placing immigration, citizenship and anchor babies at the top (even for Bush!) but has also ripped up the old campaign manual.
Where it will all go from here is impossible to predict, especially given the fragility of the world’s stock market. But Trump is responding to America’s stealthy Revolution with a counter-revolutionary campaign that is not playing by the old restrictive rules. Good for him!