The most effective part of Trump’s speech was a brief, apparently ad-libbed line. The crowd had begun chanting “lock her up”, a phrase they had used all week and which many commentators felt crossed the line from heated rhetoric into a promise to jail political opponents, in the style of a third-world dictator. (Or Woodrow Wilson)
But Trump, for once, didn’t egg the crowd on, but instead pulled them back. “Let’s defeat her in November” he said, in a tone of friendly correction.
This was a mix of showman Trump–guy who can play the crowd–and politician Trump, who can remain within the bounds of political propriety. He used his rapport with the angry mob to calm, not to incite.
It reminded me of one time in ’08 when Obama was speaking about McCain and the crowd started booing McCain’s name. Obama quickly said “You don’t need to boo, you just need to vote.” It made him seem very (dare I say it?) classy and professional about the whole thing.
Granted, Trump has many more inappropriate remarks to make up for than Obama did at this point–but still, he showed he can at least momentarily maintain discipline and not give in to the blind rage of his cheering base. Whether he can do that over a long period remains to be seen. My bet is he can’t.