Mr. Trump, West Bend Ain’t Milwaukee

Trump stumps for African American votes before a crowd with not one black person.

By - Aug 21st, 2016 11:38 am
Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

As I listened to Donald Trump launch into his signature speech in his proscriptions for the inner cities of America at the Washington County Fairgrounds Tuesday night, the question ran through my mind: “Does he know where he is?”

He kept saying, “here in Milwaukee” and never once that I recall mentioned West Bend or Washington County. Campaigns are a whirlwind, so the candidate himself can be forgiven for being disoriented.

But what was his staff thinking? He was making a strong pitch for the African American vote in a county that has a very low percentage of minority residents. It’s a speech that should have given during his earlier stops in Milwaukee, the unfortunate locale of recent unrest.

Rep. Glenn Grothman said it was the biggest crowd he had ever seen in Washington County in his two decades in office. Trump’s ability to attract an audience is impressive. He’s the ultimate showman. I would guess the crowd at more than 1000. Some were there to observe the spectacle and history in the making, but most were there to chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” or “USA, USA, USA” and to sport his signs, T-shirts and buttons.

It was a committed crowd. Trump was supposed to speak about 7:30 p.m. But the crowd had to wait for his motorcade to arrive from Milwaukee. They mostly persevered in the sweltering heat inside the packed Ziegler Family Expo Center. Two older men had to be treated when overcome by the high-80s temperatures and the humidity. Trump signs became fans. About 10% of the people left before Trump began to speak just after 9 o’clock.

People wondered why the larger conference center next door wasn’t used and guessed that the Trump managers wanted the appearance of a packed house. It was indeed a full house.

The crowd was orderly, as might be expected in West Bend, which, by the way, does not see itself as a “suburb of Milwaukee,” as so identified by the national and big city press. There was the repeated use of the “Lock Her Up” chant, referring to Hillary Clinton and her e-mail imbroglio. And there were side comments in the audience that were rougher: “She’s the devil” – “Burn that bitch” – “She’s a murderer” – “Hillary sucks.”

Expect a lot more of that kind of stuff, personal attacks, from the Trumpians in the final 90 days of the campaign. His insults worked in the primaries.

There were more men (a good number with tattoos) than women, but the crowd was a mix of young and old, local people, people from elsewhere, Harley riders and people in wheel chairs. What it wasn’t was a racially diverse crowd. As Trump was speaking, I surveyed the audience and saw not one African American.

There were several in the multiple security details and there was one African American women on the scene who I saw after Trump left. I was told she was a newsperson. So, again, why this audience for this speech?

It was well written, apparently scripted, and he stuck to it all the way through. The style of it seemed out of character, so well spoken, so well delivered, so fluid, so disciplined. We learned later that Trump had sidelined Paul Manafort, the campaign manager who worked to script Trump and make him come off as presidential. The new campaign head will be Stephen Bannon, a right-wing pit bull who likes the unscripted Trump.

With Bannon as his right-hand advisor, expect the gloves to come off big time.

The Tuesday crowd included U.S. Reps Grothman and Sean Duffy, state Reps. Bob Gannon and Dan Knodl, who all spoke on Trump’s behalf. Sen. Duey Stroebel attended, but did not speak. Gov. Walker, who Trump roughed up in the primaries, introduced the GOP nominee and said voters had only two choices: Trump or Clinton. He urged Trump and went after Clinton. But it wasn’t a ringing endorsement. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who represents the county, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson were noticeable in their absence, obviously steering clear of any negative drag from Trump’s drop in the polls.

As to substance, Trump’s speech was designed to position him as the law and order candidate in favor or more cops and taking more criminals off the streets. He framed Clinton as anti-police and promised more jobs and a better future for African Americans.

He ranks next to zero in then polls with that segment of voters. Will his speech help? At least he is making the ask.

And while he has a point when he criticizes the Democratic Party about its failure to turn around the jobs picture in the inner cities, it was also good to see a Republican says his party would get involved and do better.

We could use more jobs “here in Washington County,” too.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

19 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Mr. Trump, West Bend Ain’t Milwaukee”

  1. Patty Wanninger says:

    Mr. Torinus,
    Donald Trump can read from a teleprompter. Wow.

    When this is all over, the Republican party will be exemplified by people like these: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/21/this-couple-didnt-tip-their-latina-server-they-left-a-hateful-message-instead/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.71a27b64998c

  2. Jason says:

    Am I the only one who gets this. People in West Bend new Trump was in West Bend. The audience or the people behind the camera do not all live in West Bend. The audience is from the Milwaukee area. Let us not make a big deal over nothing take the tin foil hat off your head.

  3. Ryan N says:

    Trump likely knew what he was doing, make a call for black support (he’ll get <5% of the black vote) in a known racist city out in the country.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    How do you know where the audience was from Jason? Did you survey them from Hawaii? You don’t see any issue with him making that speech in, of all places, West Bend?

  5. WashCoRepub says:

    That would be cool if someone ‘in the know’ could list all the ‘known racist cities.’ I assume there’s a master list somewhere? I’m also assuming ALL cities/towns/townships in the “WOW Counties” would qualify for automatic inclusion, right? That may be a bit limiting, though. You’d have to include Dodge Co., I mean, you’ve got at least two Fitzgeralds living there, and tons of white people. Could we say pretty much all counties except Dane and Milwaukee are ‘known racist,’ just to keep things simple?

  6. Milwaukee Native says:

    Mr. Torinus, if Republicans want to help improve economies in central cities, they don’t need to wait for Donald Trump to take the lead. Whatever their affiliation, Milwaukee CEOs are sitting on their hands, as Bruce Murphy reported. That disregard and disconnect is decades old.

    Clueless Trump is now making statements all over the map in his desperate attempts to pander for votes. West Bend has fewer than 1 percent African-American residents (.3 percent).


  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    Just heard this story a few minutes ago. http://www.npr.org/2016/08/22/490895567/research-challenges-assumptions-on-why-voters-support-trump

    What’s interesting about it is how it flips the script in certain ways. One of the complaints I’ve heard conservatives make about liberals countless times over the years is how “the left” is always playing the victim. Didn’t Ann Coulter write an entire book about this? But you listen to these Trump supporters in West Bend, and all you hear is what victims they are. I have a good job with good benefits but it’s not my dream job. A woman took my job or a minority got promoted instead of me. Because of political correctness I can’t say what I want to. They are all victims. Times have changed apparently.

  8. AG says:

    Vincent, wouldn’t that idea apply to almost any subject? If less than 15%$ of people are in poverty, wouldn’t it be correct to say most of X candidates supporters don’t live in poverty and thus the subject of fighting poverty doesn’t apply to them?

  9. David Nelson says:

    Fighting poverty is the responsibility of any reasonable society. Understanding poverty, supporting job creation, and requiring transparency in candidates and the elected is the responsibility of citizens. The subject of poverty is always relevant.

  10. Milwaukee Native says:

    Smart business people realize that fighting poverty by promoting livable incomes is also good for business in general. Some well-known CEOs have begun speaking out about that basic fact (which was a Henry Ford truism). Businesses need customers who can afford their goods and services. Few serve only the wealthy.

    The current trend of most increases in wealth going to the 1 or 2% is not sustainable. Fighting poverty is not just a do-gooder moral issue (although “doing good” can play a role in “doing well’).

    The previous Gilded Age fell apart and the current one will as well. Metro Milwaukee needs to help “save” the city at its center for the health and viability of the whole region.

  11. will says:

    Under a Clinton expediency, the lives of super predators will be enhanced tremendously. Who knows, maybe if the predators are lucky, she will save some space for them in the Clinton Correctional Facility.

  12. David Nelson says:

    will: What do you mean by super-predator? What do you mean by enhanced?

  13. Vincent Hanna says:

    AG did you ignore my point or just miss it entirely? I really can’t tell.

  14. Jason says:

    Milwaukee Native, what does your liberal prose mean. Under Obama, wall street has gotten richer and main street is flat and the urban ghettos survive off the government. Are you suggesting a higher capital gains rate on Obama’s friends. I am sure Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and George Soros will quiet the Democratic party.

  15. Thomas says:

    The gap between Wall Street and Main Street has been growing since the Reagan years. Obama has strived to shrink this gap, but Republicans in Congress have thwarted these efforts. O’s stimulus package of 2009 helped us slowly emerge from W’s GREAT RECESSION, but reactionary Tea Party resistance to progress and stupid refusals by Republican governors to accept stimuli kept the recovery from moving at greater than a snail’s pace. Warren Buffet has recognized the inequity of the 15% capital gains rate by saying something like ” it is unfair that his secretary pays a % of her income in taxes than he pays. Neither Buffet, Gates, nor Soros would likely quiet(sic)quit the Democratic party if cap gains were taxed at a higher rate.

  16. Thomas says:

    Correction: the Buffet paraphrase should have read that “his secretary pays a greater % of her income on taxes than he pays.”

  17. AG says:

    Vincent, a little of both… I just read the content of the link you posted and ignored the rest. I just now realized there was a paragraph after the link. 🙂 True story!

    But I still think you’re over generalizing while also marginalizing real concerns people./

  18. Vincent Hanna says:

    I believe you.

    I disagree, because I never suggested someone with a good job should not care about the economy or their own prospects. I was pointing out what I see as a changing paradigm. Listen to Trump supporters, like those in the story and those who feel like white people are under attack, and a common theme is victimhood. So many of them claim to be victims. Not that long ago conservatives accused “the left” of always playing the victim card. Times seem to have changed in the era of Trump.

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