FAIRFIELD, Connecticut – Near the end of Donald Trump’s speech on the campus of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, loud claps of thunder boomed throughout the gymnasium. Many in the crowd – 5,000 strong – blanched. Trump, already speaking for more than hour, continued undeterred. He didn’t seem to notice. It was an apt metaphor for the Trump candidacy.
He was in rare form on Saturday night – even for Trump. He mused out loud about withdrawing the credentials of the New York Times, calling it “real garbage.”
“The newspaper is going to hell,” Trump said. “They’ve got a couple of reporters in that newspaper who are so bad. I mean, lack of talent. But it’s going to hell. So I think maybe what we will do, maybe we will start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them.”
If Trump follows through, he would add the paper to a blacklist of media outlets barred from attending his events that currently includes the Washington Post, Politico and National Review, among others. The GOP nominee was unhappy about a piece published Saturday that cited campaign sources characterizing Trump as “frustrated” and “exhausted” by his falling poll numbers.
Thousands of supporters packed a gym, with no air conditioning to hear the business mogul speak. Trump went on stage more than a half hour late and attendees that had to be treated for heat-related symptoms reached double digits. At one point, Trump brought on stage an 18-year-old patient of the Make-A-Wish foundation, Giacomo Brancato, who said, as his wish, that he would like to meet Trump.
Brancato took the microphone as the crowd cheered and said, “Just everyone vote for Trump. Make America great again.”
Soon after, Trump made a promise to Brancato.
“I’m telling this to Giacomo,” Trump said. “I might lie to you,” referring to the audience, “like Hillary does all the time, but I’ll never lie to Giacomo, okay? All right Giacomo? You hold me to it.”
Then Trump made his grand promise.
“We’re gonna build a wall. But who, who, who, who is gonna pay for the wall?”
The crowd screeched, “Mexico!”
Trump responded, “100 percent. All right. Giacomo heard me. Don’t worry about it. I’m not nervous, Giacomo. You’re not going to have any problem.”
That a Republican presidential candidate was spending a Saturday night and campaign resources addressing a crowd in Connecticut was surprising, given that a Republican presidential candidate has not won the state since 1988, a fact that Trump himself acknowledged.
“You know, we are making a big move for the state of Connecticut, just so you understand,” Trump said. “Normally that wouldn’t happen because a Republican, in theory, doesn’t win Connecticut.”
He reflected on the outcome of a loss in Connecticut, and in other swing states where recent polls have shown Clinton with an advantage over Trump.
“Can you imagine how badly I’ll feel if I spend all of that money, all of this energy, all of this time and lost?” Trump said. “I will never ever forgive the people of Connecticut. I will never forgive the people of Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio, but I love them anyway. We’ll see. I think we’re gonna do very well.”
For the rest of the rally, Trump aired his grievances against the media, at one point, saying falsely that CNN had turned off its camera because he was criticizing the cable network.
“But I loved when CNN turned off its camera, as soon as I started telling you what sleaze they are,” Trump said. “That camera, folks, can you imagine having it on live television? But you know the good thing? Nobody is watching them anyways.”
Nobody was watching the speech outside of the gymnasium for a period at the end of the speech. The thunderstorm outside had knocked out the transmission of several live trucks broadcasting the speech.
Trump kept going. The microphone was his – and no one would tell him otherwise.