Trump barnstorms America

Trump barnstorms America, by Cameron Stewart.

“You wanna talk about polls?’ says Mark Stefura as Air Force One drops from the clouds and lands next to us in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

“This is my poll here. Look at this huge crowd, willing to stand in the rain for hours just to see their president,” says Stefura, an airconditioning salesman, as he stands with me amid a sea of screaming Trump supporters.

“This is what enthusiasm looks like and this is why Donald Trump will win this election hands down. The rest of America is going to be crying big time, just like in 2016.”

With just a week to go until the US election, the 45th President is on an extraordinary rampage across America, a jaw-dropping schedule of rallies as he seeks a historic come-from-behind victory against Joe Biden.

The President is everywhere you look, dominating the news cycle, creating havoc and controversy for his opponents and rock-star adulation from his loyal army. By contrast, Biden is barely visible, adopting the lowest profile campaign of any candidate in modern US history.

On Tuesday (AEDT) Trump held an astonishing three separate rallies, each more than an hour long, around the key swing state of Pennsylvania before returning to the White House for the swearing in of the new conservative Supreme Court judge Amy Coney Barrett. Just weeks ago the 74-year-old was in hospital recovering from COVID-19. …

Stefura leans over and tells me: “Joe Biden had a rally up in Dallas, Pennsylvania, on Saturday and he had Bon Jovi there and Bon Jovi sang to 12 people and a bunch of Halloween pumpkins”. …

Trump has perfected his rallies in this campaign to make them a stunningly powerful weapon for his fans. The playbook is the same as in 2016. Lots of loud 1980s ­anthems from Elton John to Queen to rev the crowd up before his grand arrival on Air Force One.

On stage he speaks for more than an hour, mixing his stump speech on the teleprompter with anecdotes and wild off-topic riffs which bring the loudest cheers. He tells them that Biden is beholden to the Bernie Sanders socialist wing of the Democrats and that his running mate Kamala Harris is “more liberal than crazy Bernie”. …

And then there is Biden’s son Hunter’s laptop, the mention of which sparks cries of “lock him up”. Trump points at the press pack, saying the refusal of much of mainstream media to cover the story amounts to censorship. “We really don’t have freedom of press in this country,” he says as the crowd boos at the bank of TV cameras. …

Paula Keperling, who owns a cabinetry business, says she hated Trump when he first said he would run years ago.

“Never in my life did I think I would vote for him when he said he would first run years ago, but then when we started to learn more about him and what he stands for and I am like, ‘oh my gosh’,” she says. “He is extremely honest and he is so transparent and I pray to God that he wins. God has the final say at the end of the day and I believe God likes ­Donald Trump.”

If not for the polls, everyone would have written off Biden ages ago. I’m curious to see how accurate the polls turn out to be.