Trump Draws Large Crowd, Attacks Rivals In South Carolina Campaign Stop
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Donald Trump, by all appearances, is having fun.
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DONALD TRUMP: There's a silent majority out there. We're tired of being pushed around, kicked around, and acting and being led by stupid people.
TRUMP: They're stupid people.
INSKEEP: Trump has delivered a string of personal insults against other Republicans seeking the presidential nomination. Yesterday, he mocked the glasses of Rick Perry, called Lindsey Graham of South Carolina a stiff. He's been criticized for his remarks about the war record of Sen. John McCain. None of this sounds very dignified, but it gets attention and strikes a nerve with some voters. Reporter Sarah McCammon spoke with retirees at a Trump rally in South Carolina.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: In her younger years, Sally Curran managed a Toyota dealership. Now she's enjoying life in a well-manicured, gated community near Hilton Head Island.
SALLY CURRAN: Sun City - it's the best retirement place there is.
MCCAMMON: As she waited for doors to open before Donald Trump's campaign speech, she held a sign that read, South Carolina is Trump country.
CURRAN: And I feel that he is saying things that hit a nerve because he wants to make the public realize you're not going to hear it on the news. So he's saying everything and driving and flying all over the place to get the word out.
MCCAMMON: What is he saying that's hitting a nerve with you?
CURRAN: He's going to build a wall. No other president has built a wall to keep illegals out.
MCCAMMON: Curran says she's not offended by some of Trump's tough talk, including his announcement speech, where he referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists.
CURRAN: Oh, my gosh. It's bad enough we have Americans doing it when we have illegals coming in and doing it.
MCCAMMON: Trump's tendency to speak with little filtering also appeals to James and Juliet Kerr. They retired to South Carolina from New York City. They say Donald Trump can save the country.
JAMES KERR: They want our kids and our grandkids to remember how great this country was. So we're here to support him.
MCCAMMON: How do you remember it?
JULIET KERR: Free to walk the streets. There was no political correctness. You could come and go as you pleased and not worry.
JAMES KERR: Politicians actually did represent the people.
Some in the audience came just to see what Trump would say, like John Nicholson. He says he's investigating the primary candidates and sees something he likes in Trump.
JOHN NICHOLSON: I think he's probably the most dynamic person that's in politics at the moment.
MCCAMMON: What do you think of the things he's saying?
NICHOLSON: I think those are distractions. I think if he wants to be a major force, he should speak out against Hillary, who's the opposition. I think that's just the distraction. I think the media's loving it.
STU ROTHENBERG: This is not about Donald Trump as a Republican presidential nominee. This is about Donald Trump as giving voice to the anger out there on the conservative grassroots.
MCCAMMON: Stu Rothenberg is publisher of The Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report. He says the wave of support Trump is riding now is bound to crash.
ROTHENBERG: The closer we get to the real process of selecting a Republican presidential nominee, the more that voters will look for other qualities - experience, maturity, a measured evaluation of public policy.
MCCAMMON: And if Republican voters ultimately decide Donald Trump doesn't have those qualities, that might not be the end of his campaign. Trump hasn't ruled out running as a third-party candidate. For NPR News, I'm Sarah McCammon in Bluffton, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.