Part 1 of a KBI Series
On the heels of former President Donald Trump’s reality-denying performance during a CNN town hall, his son and daughter-in-law brought firepower to the Christian-themed “ReAwaken America Tour” that landed in Miami this weekend.
For headliner Gen. Michael Flynn, it garnered an invite from Trump to return to a White House job.
For the other big names – Eric Trump and wife Lara – the event seemed to be a giant focus group aimed at testing campaign themes the former president himself barely touched upon at CNN’s New Hampshire town hall.
In that cable appearance, the former president again falsely said the 2020 election was stolen, that Democrats support infanticide, that the “rich and famous” historically have had license to commit sexual abuse, and that he would pardon Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
But the senior Trump might do well to take note of the reaction to both Flynn and his children’s appearances before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,000 paid attendees at his National Doral Resort Miami Friday and Saturday.
The focus was on kitchen table issues, even if the statistics were incorrect. That didn’t matter. The cheers were loud and long.
“You had a president who had the greatest economy in the history of the country. The lowest unemployment, the lowest African American unemployment, lowest female unemployment and lowest senior unemployment,” Eric Trump said.
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In fact, unemployment hit the lowest in 54 years in February under Biden.
With $500 VIP tickets, the event organized by anti-vaccine crusader Clay Clark was extraordinary: equal parts campaign rally, right-wing fear mongering and hucksterism. Vendors hawked cure-alls for COVID-19, silver toothpaste, and long-disproven schemes to not pay federal income tax.
Eric Trump started off, boasting CNN’s town hall had the highest ratings in seven years for CNN. (A 2020 town hall with Biden had better numbers)
Trump Sr. made a cameo Saturday evening, calling in after his rally in Iowa was canceled because of weather. He praised Flynn — the man he pardoned after a guilty plea to charges he lied to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat.
“You just got to stay healthy because we are bringing you back,” Trump said as Flynn held up a cellphone to a microphone. Trump had fired Flynn in 2017 as his national security advisor.
Inside the MAGA Roadshow
Part 1 – Lara and Eric Trump preview the Republican attack for 2024 at Flynn event
Part 2 – ReAwakening attendees want to mend the American divide, even as the conference wallows in hucksterism, conspiracy theories and an impressive Christian-themed alt-media machine
Part 3 – Anti-trans speech goes to extremes on Flynn’s tour
But on Saturday, Clark whipped the crowd in a frenzy when he suggested Flynn could be Trump’s 2024 running mate.
Eric Trump repeatedly returned to Republican red meat issues instead of his father’s grievance politics. He focused on popular Constitutional issues — even though his father had called for termination of the Constitution in December.
“We need to go back to the time where we actually respect the Constitution of the United States,” Eric Trump said. “We protect the Second Amendment, one of the most important things in the world to me. We stop the crucifixion of law enforcement officers … We get the government out of society.”
There was no mention of the unprecedented increase of mass shootings.
The junior Trump then hit on another tried-and-true talking point: a strong military.
“Russia invaded Ukraine. Under Donald Trump, they wouldn’t even have thought about it,” Eric Trump said.“ You know, why? Again, it is peace through strength.”
He lambasted Vice President Kamala Harris for her being absent on the job as the “border czar” as thousands of migrants are set to try to enter the United States after a Covid-19 restriction sunsetted.
But the conspiracy vibe – and the Trump family victim complex – was strong.
Eric and Lara Trump told the crowd that the Department of Justice, the CIA, the FBI and the globalists all were gunning for the Trump family. Eric Trump mentioned the classified documents seized at Trump’s Palm Beach mansion Mar-a-Lago, as an example.
“They are weaponizing every citizen they have against this one man,” Lara Trump said. “You will wonder why? Because they know what we all know: There is one man who can bring this country back.”
JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV. You can reach him at [email protected]