September 21, 2016
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I had the great honor of traveling from New York to Fort Myers, Florida with Donald Trump on Monday. It was so interesting that I thought I would share the experience with you.
Callista and I arrived home from Kiev (seven hours ahead of Washington, D.C.) on Sunday evening. So when I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to catch the shuttle to New York it was already 1:00 p.m. in Ukraine.
The 8:00 a.m. shuttle was supposed to land around 9:30 a.m. at the Delta Terminal at LaGuardia and I was planning to go next door to Sheltair Aviation, which is the private plane side of the Marine Air Terminal. The first complication was an air traffic control hold which lasted 45 minutes as we sat on the ground at Reagan National Airport. Then we were told we were going to have to go west, practically to Cleveland, to get around a huge thunderstorm system. I fly so much that I either sleep or read books on my iPad. Frankly, I would rather land later and miss the thunderstorms than try to go through them.
We finally arrived at LaGuardia at 10:55 a.m., a mere one hour and 25 minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, Trump was not leaving until 11:30 a.m. so we were in good shape.
The Trump Airplane is very impressive. It was parked near Vice President Joe Biden’s official Air Force plane (Air Force Two). Both planes are Boeing 757s but Donald Trump’s plane is dramatically more comfortable and spacious.
The Trump plane has a section for Secret Service (about a dozen Secret Service agents travel with a presidential candidate), a section for staff working on speeches and other campaign business, a very comfortable set of chairs with tables for the candidate, his immediate advisers and friends, a living room for watching TV, two meeting rooms and a private bedroom with a shower for Trump to freshen up before big events.
One of Trump’s great advantages throughout the nominating process was having a plane he liked with the comfortable sense of a traveling living room. When his plane is in the air he has DirecTV so he can keep up with the news 24 hours a day. The plane also has wireless internet so people can work wherever they are.
It is an enormous advantage for Donald Trump to travel with minimum friction and maximum familiarity. He is also helped by a crew on the plane that knows him and enjoys working with him.
On the way to Fort Myers we discussed the upcoming rally. There had been 31,000 acceptances before the campaign cut it off. Now we were on the way to an arena that held only 10,000 people. There was an overflow hall that held thousands more with giant TV screens. Finally, as we drove up, there were even more people stretched along the road for almost a mile.
This was the kind of enthusiastic outpouring Reagan and Obama had when they ran.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton spoke to 300 supporters in Philadelphia that same day.
This 100 to one Trump versus Clinton popular response is part of why her 5:1 advantage in advertising has not been able to knock Trump out.
Donald Trump is gaining in earned media and social media almost as much as Hillary Clinton is buying.
In addition, if 10,000 plus people attend your rally they are each likely to share pictures and updates via email and social media. Dan Scavino is the Trump guru for social media and he reaches an amazing number of people.
We spent a lot of time while flying down to Florida talking about the Minnesota and New York-New Jersey terror attacks and the left’s total confusion.
We also discussed the stunning dishonesty of CNN editing the word bomb out of Hillary’s initial comments so they could attack Trump for using the word. A lot of the elite media attacked Trump for saying the explosion was a bomb.
It was a bomb. Trump was right.
This is a good example of why many Americans increasingly like Trump and dislike the news media.
All the way to Florida, Stephen Miller, a very hard working and extremely competent senior speech writer was editing Trump’s speech to make it hard hitting with the latest facts.
I got to watch Kellyanne Conway, an old friend, work as campaign manager. She and Steve Bannon, assisted by Dave Bossie, have brought new levels of drive and energy to the Trump campaign.
I chatted with Donald off and on throughout the trip. He learns very fast. He was quizzing me about Governor Deal in Georgia, what I had learned in Ukraine over the weekend, and how to handle the debates (I told him he was a better debater than I am and he should follow his instincts).
We had a lengthy discussion regarding how to treat Americans who become terrorists. This is an important topic I will write more about in the next few days.
When we arrived in Fort Myers for the rally, Trump taped a segment for The O’Reilly Factor and I went out as the warm up act. The crowd went wild and we had a great time. You can see my “warm up” talk here.
Then Trump gave a terrific speech. He is increasingly presidential and drew the lines with Hillary very clearly and forcefully. The crowd loved him.
We had a quick flight back kicking around ideas and I then jumped on the Acela and arrived in Washington around midnight.
It was a very educational and encouraging day.
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