“We’re Voting With Our Middle Finger”: South Carolina Explains Why It Will Pick Trump

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Earlier today, we noted that going into the South Carolina primary, Donald Trump is sitting on a commanding lead not just in the state, where he’s up 17 points, but nationally, where his lead over Ted Cruz is an even larger 20 points.

Perhaps most disconcerting for Cruz, Trump has a nine point national edge among white evangelicals, a voter base the Texas senator should by all rights dominate. Trump is also only 3 points behind Cruz among voters who identify as “very conservative.”

In short, the Teflon Don is living up to the hype and while everyone was laughing last summer when Trump declared his candidacy, the only one who is laughing now is Trump himself.

Some were surprised that the latest GOP debate – which appeared at times as though it might devolve into a fist fight – didn’t dent Trump’s numbers. We’re not sure why the shock.

Quite a bit of what Trump said at the debate was true. America shouldn’t have gone to Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Jeb Bush’s brother didn’t prevent 9/11. All of those statements – which drew boos from a crowd Trump claimed was stacked with Bush supporters – pale in comparison to virtually everything else the bellicose billionaire has said on the campaign trail. We’re talking about a candidate that called immigrants rapists, says he will demand that Mexico pay for a wall on the border, said John McCain isn’t a war hero, and called for a ban on Muslims. And people are somehow surprised that a few slightly controversial comments about foreign policy didn’t sink him in the polls? The most amusing thing about the debate – well, besides how utterly absurd it was – was that Trump at times appeared to have a better grip on foreign policy than anyone else on the stage.

In any event, The LA Times is out with a new piece that explores why South Carolina voters are overwhelmingly coming out in support of Trump. Excerpts are presented below, but John Baldwin, a used-car dealer from Greenville summed up the mood quite succinctly: “We’re voting with our middle finger,” he declares. We imagine Bernie Sanders’ supporters would say the exact same thing, if asked. A message to Washington’s entrenched political aristocracy: Americans have just given you the finger. Literally.

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From The LA Times

Robert Bowers, a 50-year-old debt collector, conceded that Donald Trump may have gone “overboard just a little bit” when he attacked President George W. Bush, saying he lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and failed to stop the Sept. 11 attacks.

But that did not stop Bowers, of Fountain Inn, S.C., from putting on a cap with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan and walking through an icy cold parking lot so he could crowd into a raucous Trump rally Monday night.

“I hope he drops an F-bomb,” one fan said to another on the way into the rally.

During past controversies, Trump’s supporters have stuck with him, believing his unvarnished criticism of immigrants, Muslims, women and Sen. John McCain’s war record shows he is willing to take on establishment interests and unwilling to bend to what he calls political correctness.

“We’re voting with our middle finger,” said John Baldwin, a used-car dealer from Greenville.

Baldwin and his wife were passing out stickers and signs calling Trump’s supporters the “silent majority,” a phrase that dates to President Nixon and is used by Trump to assert that he is giving voice to beliefs that others are afraid to say out loud.

Betty Carter also didn’t like the way Trump went after former President Bush. But she’s still sticking with him.

“He needs to know where he is: He’s in Bush country,” she said waiting in a long line to see him Tuesday afternoon at Riverview Park in North Augusta, where she moved more than 15 years ago to care for her grandkids. “I didn’t like it, but I’m still voting for him.”

Monday night’s rally was typical of Trump’s performances, which feel like arena rock concerts as much as political events. Thousands packed into the TD Convention Center. Many stood along the sides of the cavernous convention hall when the seats ran out. Others were sent to an overflow room or turned away. Giant screens lit up Trump’s face; spotlights vacillated in front of the stage; Van Halen music blared.

“Didn’t you love this last debate?” Trump said to cheers. “They came at me from every angle.”

We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. That was a big mistake because it destabilized the whole Middle East,” Trump said. “Some people say ‘Oh, don’t say that.’”

“Everything you see right now is an offshoot of that decision,” he added,

Saddam Hussein killed terrorists,” Trump said. “He didn’t do it politically correct. He found a terrorist, they were gone within five seconds, OK. With us, we find a terrorist, it’s going to be 25 years and a trial.”

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We’re reasonbly sure Trump has no idea that Islamic State’s top ranks are almost entirely comprised of former Baathists.

But in this case we’ll forgive his ignorance because when he says that everything wrong in the Mid-East today is “an offshoot” of the decision to invade Iraq, he is 100% correct.

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