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Trump Hugs Trees in S.C.

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Carol Caldwell

Trump Hugs Trees in S.C.
By Carol Caldwell

Here I am on highway 17 south barreling toward Walterboro, S.C., home of the jumbo boiled peanut. The further you get outside Charleston, the more you appreciate why it's called The Low Country. It's not only low, it are flat. (Locals know: pi R square, but cornbread R round.) It's flat but the pines are high as far as you can see. Thickets poke out of plough mud and loam, give way to swamp alongside grand expansive grasslands of marsh. It is pure-T bliss this late afternoon, spinning along at top speed, blue skies, moves you to testify: Good work, God! Sun tips the tops of Carolina pines shimmering gold against a low going incoming C5A. I'm on the way to the Donald J. Trump lovefest put on by a fellow Republican who's in the tree business--and I'm talking square miles of nothing but.
Round the bend and suddenly, blue lights are blinking atop black cars stationed at intervals along the fences. Walterboro officers are parked at every access into this fine plantation--no other word will do. A mile of cars are pulled up both sides along two-lane State 303. Police are friendly but firm. If you don't have a pass to prove you're an ardent fan and contributor, you can't drive in. I amble along the roadside with a fellow who says he's an undecided voter, though he's leaning toward the man he calls Dr. Orange.
We bustle another half mile with swarms of expectant comers through broad pastures, abruptly halted by high sheriffs and security. We're squeezed into four lines to pass through metal detectors, plus blue latex pocket and purse searches. There are signs posted everywhere: No Guns or Weapons. So when we're loosed into the open, the banner across the stage is a tasty twist: Low Country Gun Club. To one side is a special fenced-off, flag-draped place with a fancy stable for hoedowns, not horses. The superspecial DJ Trump doners therein are gnawing down on heaps of bbq ribs, pulled pork and whiskey. Lots of blond hair and high heel boots, just the way our man, the top tier poller likes 'em. Menfolk are slicked up too, no hayseeds behind the cheerful bunting. I'm nostalgic for J.R. and Crystal.
Police said they were expecting 2500, but I'd say maybe 6 hunnert at best. Warmed over Elton John whimpers over the speakers, and us nobodies mill among ourselves. I sidle up to clumps to strike up a chat. I have to say, they are as neighborly as you'd expect voters of Colleton County to be. Some have come decked out in Trumpanalia. Many I talked to allowed as how they wanted to fall by and see what they could see. Many said they were undecided, or independents. One blondeened granny with two little dandelion-headed things in teeny Trump T-shirts declared, "I find some of what he says a tad objectionable, you know, the way he puts things. We don't talk like that down here. But I guess it's got to be said, so he must be the man to do it." Another fellow said, "I'm for Trump, but he's got it locked up, so I'm gonna vote for Rubio." I heard folks say that more than a few times. Or, " I'm gonna vote for Ted Cruz, or that other one, Kasich--he seems to be the only adult on board."
And now! A swell from the crowd as two men we don't know take the stage. One must be one of Trump's handlers (as if!) who introduces our host, the owner of Ink Farms, a man named Randy, L.L. Beaned and bristling silvered hair from head to chin. Randy speaks multi-generational low country mushmouth, very appealing, but you have to be a native to follow. He keeps it short: "I want to introduce my good buddy Donald Trump. That's why we're all here. So, please welcome..." And the good Dr. Orange bounds up to a mild hip hip, a bit of a hitch in his getalong. He must be wearing down. The handler stirs the pot, getting the crowd to chant: Build That Wall! But this is no Woodstock. The great man takes the mike: "Thank you, Randy. Thank you so much." Then gestures to the beneficent landowner. "This is a man who's even richer than I am!" Nodding, right arm goes wide. "I mean it! Richer than me!" A mild roar, because it's not really polite in these parts to talk about your money. Just is not.
Our number one with a bullet in the polls has toned it down. The strident voice has softened, not much, he can't help it, but a bit. Maybe it's South Carolina's genteel effect on the Bad Boy from Queens. Maybe somebody down here with old family manners suggested, however gently, that when one is that far ahead, it's not gentlemanly to "go on" about your advantage.
On the long drive back, I'm thinking about the various vanquished candidates and others who've been cut-off, cold-cocked, bashed, trashed, and dismissed on the man who would be king's rocket to the top. Like what he's said about our South Carolina senator, Lindsay Graham, who made a sad little foray into the fray. DT called him a zero, a lightweight, an idiot, what a stiff! Kasich: I think I like the man, but...what? Who can tell? He's invisible. Rubio: the choke artist, sweatmonster, a pretty boy but brainless. Bush: a choker, a total fool, no energy, Mama's boy, he's stupid, little big bro. And saving the best for last, Ted Cruz: a fraud, a false Christian, a basketcase, a liar, a pussy, an anchor baby, a maniac, he's nasty, he's a liar, unstable, dishonest, and, by the way! He's a liar.
And another thing. Dig this crazy Pope!

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