News & Politics

Backstage at the Trump-apalooza in New Hampshire — a Bizarre, Sickening, Xenophobic Spectacle

Ann Coulter was there. So was Scott Brown. Here's what it's like to attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

September 15, 2015, Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a rally aboard the Battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California
Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

I’m sitting on the hard floor of an indoor tennis court with my laptop balanced on my knees when Ann Coulter sweeps past me, all fur coat and sharp angles.

This is in the press pen set up for Donald Trump’s first post-Iowa rally, at the Hampshire Hills Country Club in Milford, NH. It encloses a stage to accommodate TV cameras and a handful of tables and folding chairs for the working press. There are not nearly enough chairs, which is why I’m sitting on the floor.

Coulter has a seat, of course. She’s at a table in the corner, doing a radio interview with Howie Carr, the Boston-based conservative talk radio host. I wander over to join the crowd that immediately formed around her, but with the noise in this huge space I can’t hear a thing she’s saying. Not to worry. An hour later she’s on stage warming up the crowd for Trump.

My notes from Coulter’s speech look too banal sitting on a page in my notebook to really reflect what an ugly 10 minutes it was to endure. Imagine an unrelenting tirade of xenophobic nonsense, withering scorn for politicians in Washington who are letting the country be overrun with hordes of immigrants, and gay jokes at the expense of candidates still in the race (“Marco Rubio has nice high-heel boots”) and those long gone (“I’m more excited than Lindsay Graham in a fabric store!”).

To hear Coulter and former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (who was there to endorse Trump) and some of the local political figures who also spoke, you’d have thought Pancho Villa himself was leading an army of Mexican maple syrup tappers up Route 13 at that very moment to take over the cherished New Hampshire industry. In his own speech, Trump himself referred to the eroding of American industry, saying of companies having left this state in recent years: “New Hampshire got hammered…boy, what they’ve done to you is terrible.”

That right there is the foundation upon which Trump has built his entire campaign. Everyone in that room was a victim. (Except the press, of course – we’ve been told multiple times that we’re terrible people.) Terrorists are attacking, companies are leaving, jobs are disappearing, baristas won’t say “Merry Christmas.” And all that stands between you and oblivion is Donald Trump and the guns that he’s going to let you carry, because no one is touching the Second Amendment on his watch.

When Trump’s president, everyone will say Merry Christmas. This is one of the standards of his stump speech — well, he doesn’t really give a speech; it’s more a gibbering stream of consciousness where sentences bounce off each other like bumper cars — and it got some run at the Hampshire Hills Country Club. His greatest hits make up a Perry Como album from hell: “We’re Going to Have So Much Winning.” “If Anyone Attacks While I’m President, We’ll Knock The Hell Out of Them.” “Bowe Bergdahl Is a Dirty Rotten Traitor!”

Gary Legum is a freelance writer based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His work has appeared on Wonkette, Salon, The Daily Beast, Alternet and Bitter Empire. Follow him on Twitter @garylegum.