Trump’s son tells Neshoba crowd his father offers them brighter future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trump’s son tells Neshoba crowd his father offers them brighter future

PHILADELPHIA – When Ronald Reagan, the erstwhile Hollywood actor and former governor of California came to the Neshoba County Fair in 1980 as the Republican nominee for president, he dressed the part.
Wearing cowboy boots, western slacks and a gleaming white shirt with the collar open and the sleeves rolled up, Reagan drew a record crowd of more than 34,000 to the Fairgrounds southwest of Philadelphia – a harbinger of his successful bid to unseat incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
Reagan remains the gold standard in terms of both star power and success in drawing a crowd to the fairgrounds, but a confident young man who believes his father is leading “a movement” came here Tuesday and drew quite a crowd.
Donald “Don” Trump Jr., 38, journeyed to the Neshoba County Fair on Tuesday after a Monday appearance in Dallas, Texas, at a high-end North Texas fundraising event. While Reagan might have come to Neshoba in the same Western gear he regularly wore on his California ranch and on TV shows, the son of the 2016 GOP presidential nominee came as just what he is – a wealthy, successful New York real estate developer in a red campaign golf shirt and khakis.
Like his siblings Ivanka and Eric, Don Trump works for his father as executive Vice President for development and acquisitions of the Trump business empire and his specialty is managing the family’s property portfolio. According to a profile on the billionaire’s adult children in Time Magazine,  the “Trump Organization has a reported 22,000 employees, with nine luxury hotels, 17 golf courses and 18 luxury residential properties worldwide. The company also makes millions from extensive licensing deals on real-estate developments it does not own or manage.”
Don Trump isn’t the first son of a presidential candidate to make an appearance at Neshoba, either. Neil Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush and the brother of President George W. Bush, also campaigned for his father at Neshoba in 1988 in a surrogate role.
Unlike Neil Bush, who wasn’t invited to speak in 1988 and didn’t attract significant attention, Trump received a speaking invitation and as he did in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, the younger Trump made the most of it.
The Trump campaign rented a Neshoba County Fair cabin near the main gate and turned it into a base of operations. The Fairgrounds are peppered with Trump signage on a large number of cabins, but as evidenced in Cleveland during the convention there are holdouts among some high profile Republican fair dwellers who have yet to fully embrace Trump.
Reagan drew no protests in 1980. Neither did Don Trump in 2016. With open music from soundtracks of James Brown, Queen and the Charlie Daniels Band, Trump was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan told fairgoers: “I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.”
Trump’s son did not delve into that topic or anything close, but he did tell the crowd in the poorest state in the union that they were part of “a movement” and that his billionaire father offered them more help and more hope for a national economic turnaround than does Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
In a speech that twice referenced the Second Amendment and the future makeup of the Supreme Court, Trump stayed on message from his successful RNC prime time address in Cleveland. The appearance was, by Neshoba standards, a success. Trump commented on the visible support for his father at the Fair and observed that he saw “nothing from the other side” – which drew a roar of applause.
Make no mistake, there are places in Mississippi where a Trump would face a tougher crowd than at Neshoba, a place one national magazine dubbed “Republican Woodstock.” But any reasonable assessment of Trump’s visit here in 2016 has to include a look back to Reagan’s speech here in 1980 and the last presidential campaign speech here in 1988 by Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.
Against that measure, young Trump didn’t do quite as well as Reagan, but he certainly surpassed the mark set by Dukakis. This was the second largest presidential campaign speech in the history of the campground fair.
Unlike Reagan, Trump also stayed on the fairgrounds after his speech to headline a fundraiser for his father. Now 36 years after Reagan’s Neshoba speech, that’s perhaps the most significant difference in the two events.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him

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