NAPLES, Fla. — Donald Trump does not campaign on Sundays.
He is willing to campaign nearly nonstop during the week, hopping from state to state and attending several events in one day — just not on Sundays. He made some exceptions early in the primary season, as pundits predicted incorrectly that his massive rallies would not translate into primary wins. And now that Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton in national polls with 16 days until the election, his staff scheduled a Sunday rally at the Collier County fairgrounds in rural southwest Florida, just beyond the reach of most cellphone-service providers.
Trump has said he plans to campaign as hard as he can because he does not want to look back and regret not holding “one more rally” in a key battleground state. But on Sunday evening, he seemed unsure about his original decision to run, suddenly halting from reading a teleprompter speech to ask the audience.
“When I’m president, if companies want to fire their workers and leave — Are you okay? Listen. When I’m president, this is to me, like, this is why I started. Are we glad that I started? Are we happy?” Trump said, as the crowd encouragingly cheered him on. “Well, I’ll let you know on the evening of Nov. 8 whether I’m glad.”
Trump traveled from a luxury hotel to this remote spot in his personal helicopter, passing over the “beautiful Florida Everglades” — which he has promised to “restore and protect” — and spotting gators and water moccasins.
“I told the pilot: ‘You sure that we’re okay? Those are big.’ Came in from Palm Beach to here. And I’m saying: ‘Let's get over those . . . because that’s a rough-looking sight down there,” Trump said. “You don't want to be down there. Right? I’ve heard for a long time: Go around the Everglades. It will take you longer but — not good. But we’re going to protect them.”
Given that this reporter is exhausted from traveling with Trump to nine states over seven days and covering 10 rallies, one presidential debate, one charity roast and a policy speech, here is a simple list of a few of the other things that happened:A vendor outside the rally sold posters showing Clinton’s face under a shooting-range-style target. Another sold buttons stating: “Lock her up … & throw away the key.” Trump’s first words upon taking the stage about 20 minutes early: “Man, what a crowd. What. A. Crowd. Unbelievable. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen — and look at all of that media and look at all of those antenna trucks, a couple a million a piece.” He plugged a recent poll from Investors Business Daily that shows him ahead nationally by two percentage points. Trump claimed that the publication had “the most accurate poll from the last election and the two elections before that,” an honor that the small Los Angeles-based publication seems to have bestowed upon itself. (RealClearPolitics reports that Clinton is beating Trump nationally by an average of 5.9 percentage points.) Trump declared that pink “Women for Trump” signs are his favorites. “I'll tell you what: We’re doing well in the polls, but, you know, I really think those polls are very inaccurate when it comes to women,” he said. “I think we’re doing better with women than with men, frankly. So, we’re setting records with men, but I want to set records with women. … And I can’t tell the men this, but if I could swap, I would swap you out so fast. You have no idea how fast.” Later in the rally, Trump called out to Fox News’s Carl Cameron, who was standing on the press riser, and said: “Do you see all of those 'Women for Trump' signs, Carl? Do you see that? Look, Carl!” Trump declared that he wants to continue having “Trump rallies” for eight more years. Trump again pitched himself as a former “ultimate insider” who is now an “outsider” and knows how to fix the insider system. “It's a rigged, broken, corrupt system,” he said. “It's rigged. It’s broken. It’s corrupt.” Trump again promised to block all Syrian refugees fleeing a violent civil war from entering the United States: “We're going to shut that door, and we're going to shut it tight,” he said. Trump attacked Clinton in a variety of ways, including this way: “You know, she’s trigger-happy. She looks weak, and she looks ineffective, and you watch her, and you watch her at the end of the debate, where she's, like, exhausted. She could hardly make it to her car: ‘Oh, let's get out. Let’s go,’” Trump said, rocking back and forth as someone who might fall over. “The end of the debate, two of them, she was, like, exhausted. But she’s trigger-happy, and she wants to start shooting wars in Syria. What the hell are we doing with Syria?" (Note: After the last two debates, Clinton was alert and well enough to take questions from reporters on her campaign plane. Trump left the last two debates without taking any questions from reporters.) Trump said that Mosul, Iraq, is under heavy attack because “Obama wanted to show what a tough guy he is before the election.” (Iraqi forces have been taking the lead in the fight to retake the city from the Islamic State.) Three times, Trump criticized the president for campaigning or golfing instead of doing his day job. Trump gave a rare shout-out to fellow Republicans and told the crowd to “elect me, along with a Republican House and Senate.” He later added: “We have to get out and vote — and that includes helping me reelect Republicans all over the place. I hope they help me, too. It would be nice if they help us, too, right?” Trump predicted that he might get “100 percent of the vote” in Florida’s panhandle. After speaking for about 45 minutes, Trump boarded his helicopter. He circled the fairgrounds, as his supporters snapped photos, then took off into the sunset.