Donald Trump's rallies tend to feel more like a playoff game or music concert than electoral politics. There's an expectation of entertainment — older couples are dressed up, and people are friendly and excited. Monday night's large rally at a basketball arena in Dallas was no exception.
"He's telling me everything I want to hear. I'm for change; I'm fed up with the 30 years of empty suits in Washington," said Brian Markum, an energy consultant who came to the rally with his wife.
Outside the arena, thousands of mostly white Trump supporters streamed past about 1,000 Hispanic protesters holding a fiesta complete with music and Trump pinatas, chanting, "This is America."
The 20,000-seat arena was about three-quarters filled, and Trump sounded pleased.
"The silent majority, it's back, and it's not silent. I think we should call it — maybe we should call it the noisy, the aggressive, the wanting to win, wanting to win majority. That's what it is," Trump said.
Much of the speech was a long riff on The Donald, boasting about how much money he's made doing The Apprentice and pontificating about those who underestimated him.
"So, the debate. I hear they're all going after me," he said. "Whatever, whatever. No, I hear it. ... You know, at the beginning, three, four months ago — he's just doing this for fun, he's doing this for his brand. I need this, like, for my brand."
He woke the crowd up by turning to immigration. "We have to build a wall, folks," he said to raucous applause. "We have to build a wall. And a wall works. All you have to do is go to Israel, say, 'How's your wall working?' "
Trump painted America as a patsy that takes Mexico and other country's rejects. "Their leaders are smarter than our leaders; they're more cunning, they're tougher, they're better, and we take 'em."
The speech was thin on policy — his message at this point is that America needs to hire a guy like him and trust him to clean up the country. And it's working.