MANASSAS, Virginia—GOP front-runner Donald Trump brought his road show to Northern Virginia Wednesday evening, with the usual insults for his opponents, ridicule of Hillary Clinton, boasts about his poll numbers, and then also one bit of news: the construction materials for his long-promised wall.
“It’s going to be made of hardened concrete, and it’s going to be made out of rebar. That’s steel,” Trump said. “And we’re going to set them in nice, heavy foundations.”
That description came in an answer to a child’s question near the end of his hour-and-20-minute remarks. At another point, he also said that although the border with Mexico is 2,000 miles long, the wall only needed to be 1,000 miles long because the rest of the border has natural barriers that serve equally well.
Trump did open his visit to the Prince William County Fairgrounds some 30 miles west of Washington, D.C., with a moment of silence for the mass-shooting victims in San Bernardino, California, earlier in the day. And later he mentioned in passing that he would visit Israel soon and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—a plan he will likely elaborate upon in his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates’ forum Thursday.
But otherwise it was a speech that has become routine at the celebrity businessman’s events since he entered the race in June: laments about America’s decline in the world (“We never win anymore!”); taunts about his opponents (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, once merely “low-energy,” was now so boring that his new nickname was “sleepmaster”); boasts about his lead in the polls (“Iowa: No. 1. New Hampshire: No. 1. South Carolina—big, biiiiig margin!”).
The 800 or so of his fans in attendance ate it up, some laughing uproariously every time he mentioned “China” with his particular pronunciation or concluded that the nation was led by “stupid” people who, among other things, allowed the value of imports to exceed the value of exports each year.
“He’s a show,” said Artie Surkamp, a building contractor from Manassas who with his wife turned out to see and hear it for themselves. Surkamp said he knew about Trump from previous visits to his Atlantic City casinos and, more recently, from his reality TV show. “Of course, we’ve seen him on The Apprentice.”
Surkamp said he was “interested” in Trump’s message, but not necessarily committed to supporting him.
Others said they were certain to vote for him, precisely because of his bigger-than-life persona. “His honesty. His business acumen,” said Jim Tars, a retiree from nearby Gainesville. “He says what a lot of people think…. And he’s not beholden to anyone.”
Virginia is among a dozen states voting in caucuses and primaries on March 1. In all, nearly 600 delegates will we be awarded on that Tuesday, nearly half of the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination, but party rules prohibit states voting before March 15 from distributing delegates “winner-take-all.” Virginia’s 49 delegates will be divided up according to the winner of the vote in each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.