But Trump is here nonetheless. He came here on his 757, a giant passenger plane with TRUMP on its navy-blue fuselage. There were 18 photographers waiting for him on the tarmac and at least as many inside the terminal. A couple-dozen protesters, organized by the Zapatista Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens, are making speeches under a tree outside.
Laredo is 96 percent Hispanic and heavily Democratic. “He does not belong here,” shouts Henry Rodriguez, who is wearing a Mexican flag as a headband and a red Zapatista Council T-shirt. “We don’t want him here! He is a joke.”
A 90-year-old World War II veteran, Jose Elizondo, sits on a lawn chair. He is offended on behalf of John McCain, the Arizona senator, who spent five and a half years in a prison camp in Vietnam, repeatedly refusing early release or special treatment despite being tortured. Trump, last weekend, said McCain was “not a war hero.” (Trump also said McCain was a war hero, and it is so typical of the press, when Trump says two completely opposite things, to report the bad thing he said and ignore the other, contradictory, non-bad statement.)
Elizondo’s common-law wife, 85-year-old Grace Garcia, is wearing a button that says “America con Hillary.” She says, with satisfaction, “Our Democratic Party is taking a lot of strength from this.”
Inside the terminal, the hovering reporters move with Trump like a swarm of bees. They shout questions every time he closes his mouth. Where does he get this idea that it’s dangerous on the border? “People say, ‘Oh, it’s so dangerous, Mr. Trump, it’s so dangerous what you’re doing!’” he says. “I have to do it. I have to do it.”
The media, you may have noticed, is full of Trump—explanations of Trump, denunciations of Trump, justifications of Trump, analyses of Trump, handwringing about the coverage of Trump, and accounts of the latest outrageous thing Trump has done. He is on the front page of every newspaper, the top of every newscast. They can’t believe it; they can’t get their heads around it, that this is happening, and not only is it happening, it is the biggest thing in American politics right now. It has consumed American politics. It—Trump—is bigger than the entire rest of the Republican field, which, by the way, has 15 other people in it—governors, senators, very big, very serious people. Trump is bigger than them all.
Trump is so big they are attacking him just to get themselves noticed. Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina, called Trump a “jackass,” so Trump gave out his cell-phone number on national television, and suddenly Lindsey Graham, languishing at less than 1 percent in the polls, was all anybody was talking about. You’re welcome, Lindsey Graham.
All these Republicans seemed to love Trump when they were begging him for all the money and attention he could give them (and while Trump was asking for the president’s birth certificate, which, by the way, did you notice he succeeded in getting Obama to release?). But now, Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, is giving a speech in Washington calling Trump a “cancer on conservatism.” “Rick Perry I don’t think even understands what he is saying,” Trump says.