Donald Trump likes a fight and he likes a show and Wednesday – with impeachment voted right at the moment he was addressing a campaign rally hundreds of miles away in Michigan – he got both things on steroids.
By a twist of fate, a long planned Trump rally in the small city of Battle Creek, Michigan, not only coincided with the day of his impeachment back in Washington.
The historic vote in the House of Representatives actually took place as the US president spoke to around 7,000 of his most diehard supporters – blue collar voters dressed in work boots and camouflage hunting gear.
“We want Trump, we want Trump,” they chanted before he even came out.
For a president itching to vent his anger against rival Democrats, against the media and every other of the many forces he claims are conspiring against him, what could have been better?
Trump did not resemble a politician on the ropes.
He resembled typical high-energy, angry, joking, conspiracy-minded Trump – only angrier.
“The Democrats are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter,” Trump said to boos and cheers.
“They’ve been trying to impeach me from day one. They’ve been trying to impeach me from before I ran,” he said.
The Democratic-led House made the Republican businessman only the third president in US history subjected to the humiliation of impeachment.
After a marathon 10-hour debate, lawmakers voted to impeach him for abuse of power, by pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate his potential White House challenger Joe Biden, and for obstructing the congressional probe into his dealings with Kiev.
But far from the political pain in Washington, Trump was in his happy place.
The crowd laughed at his jokes. They booed when he told them to boo. They cheered at his every boast.
“I’d rather be here. These rallies are great,” he told the crowd. “You are inspiring.”
“Four more years, four more years,” they chanted.
Trump reckons that impeachment will help him to a second term next year, creating a wave of outrage on the right capable of sweeping away those hated opponents on the left.
Although national polls show consistently that well over half the country disapproves of him, he’s counting on his core base to win the key states in the electoral college system – like Michigan.
On Wednesday he showed how that message is being honed post-impeachment. He touted the strong economy and flag-waving themes about military spending.
But more than anything he whipped up the crowd with his dark vision of conspirators and shadowy forces seeking to put down ordinary Americans.
That ever-lengthening list of enemies now runs through every speech. And on Wednesday, he ticked them all off.
There was “shifty Schiff,” the Democratic impeachment pointman in the House of Representatives, Adam Schiff.
There was “crooked Hillary,” or Hillary Clinton whom he beat in the 2016 presidential election and has kept attacking ever since.
There were the “fakers,” meaning the journalists covering his event.
There were the Democratic candidates seeking to take him on in 2020 – “those characters.”
There was even a “real slob,” referring to a woman who unfurled a protest sign in the arena telling Trump “you’re fired.”
“Get her out,” he intoned threateningly. The crowd jeered the woman and chanted “USA, USA.”
On and on, Trump told anecdotes and rambled through his grievances. Over and over he insisted that impeachment didn’t matter.
“I’m not worried,” he said to the crowd. “I don’t know about you but I’m having a good time.”