From Las Vegas, Nevada
On the eve of the fifth Republican debate, Donald Trump drew loud cheers from several thousand supporters at a Vegas rally, as the GOP frontrunner predicted that he would again be the target of his opponents.
“They’re all coming after me,” Trump said at a raucous rally that took place in the same room where Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978.
But Trump said there would be no upset in this debate.
“So far, everyone who has attacked me has gone down the tubes,” Trump said.
While Trump had started to zero in on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in recent days, the GOP leader stayed away from those barbs in this rally, saving his toughest words for Hillary Clinton and also for Republican leaders in Congress.
“She doesn’t have the strength or the stamina to be President,” Trump said to the delight of the crowd, which Trump estimated at 4,000 to 5,000.
“I promise you this,” Trump said, “President Trump will never change his tune.”
Trump’s rally ended with cheers and the playing of the Twisted Sister song, “We’re Not Going to Take It” – that instantly brought back memories for this reporter of that tune being used by another campaign rebellion.
The year was 2003 – and the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis (D) of California, as Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider sang the tune to a giant crowd outside the state Capitol in Sacramento, at the last rally of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Trump and Arnold may be much different characters, but in a sense, they are very much alike – famous people who grabbed the flag of reform, and used the force of their personality to amplify that demand for change.
Rubio draws much smaller crowd on debate eve
A few blocks south of Trump’s rally earlier in the afternoon, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) drew a couple of hundred supporters in a much smaller hotel ballroom.
“This election is a generational choice about our identity as a nation and our people,” Rubio said, as he urged changed in the White House.
“The last seven years has been a total and epic disaster for our country,” Rubio added.
As for the debate, Rubio said he’s ready.
“We are going to have nine people on that stage, and a few others in the early debate – not a single one of them is a socialist,” Rubio said to laughter.
Rubio talked about how he grew up in Las Vegas for a time as a child; noting that his parents had been two of the many workers in Sin City.
“My father was a bartender, he worked banquets at Sam’s Town,” Rubio said to applause. “My mother was a maid at the Imperial Palace.”
Rubio regularly works in that story of his parents to his campaign stump speech, but look for those extra Vegas details to be added on stage tonight.