Fear and anger in Trump-land
- 11 August 2016
- From the section US Election 2016
The "lock her up" chants started early and came often at Donald Trump's campaign event near Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday evening.
The mere mention of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton elicited rounds of boos, angry shouts and the now-obligatory calls for incarceration.
Trump's warm-up act, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, told the cheering crowd that if President Barack Obama "really cared about national security", he would indict Mrs Clinton.
The Democratic nominee wasn't the only target of the evening's ire, however.
When members of the media walked into the press area, more boos cascaded down, along with shouts of "liars".
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for president against Mr Trump, also had words for his fellow Republicans who have said they won't support their party's nominee.
"They are not afraid he will lose, they are afraid he will win," he said, "and upset their precious little world."
The crowd booed the apostate Republicans and rejoiced in their impending comeuppance.
Trump rallies - which often had a carnival atmosphere during the primary season, when their candidate was riding high, winning votes and vanquishing opponents - have turned angrier and more fearful of late. So has the candidate.
As Donald Trump has sagged in the polls over the past few weeks, he's ratcheted up the ferocity of his attacks - against Mrs Clinton, against insufficiently supportive Republicans, against the media and against the electoral system itself.
"She is a totally unhinged person," Mr Trump said of his Democratic opponent at a rally on Saturday. "She's unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her."
The election, Mr Trump warns, could be nefariously tilted against him.
"I'm telling you, November 8th, we'd better be careful because that election is going to be rigged," he said in an interview last week. "I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us."
In Mr Trump's world, the media are in on it. "They can take a little story that isn't a story and make it into a big deal," he said in Virginia on Wednesday. "Happens so much."
"Little stories" have come to dominate the political discussion of late, knocking the Republican nominee off message - not that he seems to mind. After a rough week where he sparred with fellow Republicans and the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in the Iraq War, a Monday speech on the economy was supposed to be a Trump reset.
The reset lasted all of one day, right up to when Mr Trump told a crowd in North Carolina that gun-rights supporters might "do something about" Hillary Clinton, as president, appointing anti-firearm Supreme Court justices.
Then it was back to square one with team Trump, as the nominee and the campaign spent the next 24 hours explaining his statement as either a call for political organising or simply a joke.
During his speech in Florida on Wednesday night, Mr Trump once again took issue with the media.
"I would say that the media is almost as crooked as crooked Hillary Clinton," he said. "Look at the way they covered that story yesterday. Was that disgusting?"
At that point one man in the audience turned to the reporters in their media corral and gave them a double middle finger, while the crowd chanted "Lock them up! Lock them up!"
'The truth hurts'
Outside the rally, Mr Trump's supporters displayed a mix of resistance and concern for their man's penchant for impolitic phrasing. Many echoed the candidate's insistence that the Second Amendment comments on Tuesday were much ado about nothing - but some acknowledged he had committed an unforced error.
"We have to remember he's not a politician, so he's going to make these types of mistakes," said Abel Guerrero, a nurse who immigrated with his parents to the US from Colombia. "He talks straight from the heart. And sometimes when you're telling the truth, the truth hurts."
Everyone makes mistakes, says Jonathan Martin, a retired shipyard worker who served four tours of duty in the Vietnam War.
"This is just a little bump in the road that he's going to get over - and we're going to help him do it," he said.
Beneath all of it, however, was the anger.
"I think Hillary is a big-mouth bitch," Mr Martin continued, when the topic turned to former secretary of state. "I can't stand her. I don't like listening to her. She's a liar. She's a fraud."
And the fear.
"There's so much corruption going on," said Debra Tomarin, a property agent from Palm Beach. "I'm wondering if we're really going to have an election. This is terrible, but all the rumours on the street are that something else is going to happen, and we'll go into martial law."
A defeat for Mr Trump, she says, would prove that the system was "fixed". The polls showing he's currently trailing? They're rigged, too.
"They're just trying to brainwash everyone," she said.
If it's Trump against the world, people like Ms Tomarin, Mr Martin and the thousands who came to see the Republican standard-bearer on Wednesday night know what side they're on.