strong>LAS VEGAS — "It's like Obama in reverse! Obama in reverse!" said an excited Donald Trump supporter visiting from Tennessee who came to the Republican front-runner's debate-eve rally in an enormous convention room off the Vegas Strip.
He meant, first, that Trump can draw huge crowds like candidate Barack Obama did in 2008. On Monday night, Trump rallied in a cavernous convention space in the Westgate hotel-casino complex; he filled about half the room, which given its size meant that thousands of people were there. Why not hold it in the Trump International Hotel 10 minutes away? Not enough room, the Trump camp said.
The man from Tennessee also meant that Trump has brought a level of excitement to political appearances that hasn't been seen since those Obama crowds. There's no doubt the audience, made up of a large number of the working-class white supporters who are powering Trump's run nationwide, was primed for a rousing Trump performance.
Finally, the man meant that Trump is bringing new people to politics. Before the rally began, I talked to a couple who had driven from Montana to Las Vegas — we're talking 900 miles — specifically to see Trump's appearance. The wife pointed to her husband and said, "Sixty years old and he's never voted in his life." The man nodded and said, "Never had a reason to." Trump, he added, gave him that reason.