I had the opportunity to attend a Donald Trump rally in Ashburn, Va., this morning. Crowds were lined up around the building, chants of “we want Trump” were plentiful, the playlist was stale as usual, and the talking points were usual Trump fare: he’s self-funding his campaign; we’re getting killed in trade; and he will make this country great again. The mood was light-hearted, and the event went smoothly, despite a few protesters.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary for a Trump rally. However, upon checking my phone before heading home from the event, it seemed every news outlet imaginable was piling on the idea that Trump somehow went toe-to-toe with a crying baby and its mother, to the point of having them removed from the venue. However, from my seat in the press box, I witnessed the entire exchange, an incident which played out much differently than is widely being reported.
Initially, Trump was very accommodating of the crying baby and mother, as detailed first by Rebecca Shabad at CBS News:
“Don’t worry about that baby, I love babies. I love babies. I hear that baby crying. I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry. The mom’s running around, like don’t worry about it, you know. It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want,” the GOP presidential nominee declared.
However, Shabad’s account subsequently goes off the rails. I watched as the mother, of her own volition, carried her baby out into the hallway and out of sight. It was at that point that Trump, in typical light-hearted Trump fashion, joked with the rest of his audience:
“I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s okay. People don’t understand. That’s okay,” he said.
There was at least one other child crying, as young children are expected to do, during the event, seated even closer to the press box. That family was not asked to leave by Trump, nor his staff.
Has the media forgotten how Trump likes to handle his rallies? Trump is a showman, fast on his feet, and he plays off of small inconveniences and interruptions with humor. For example, when the lights went out at an Atlanta rally, without skipping a beat, Trump stated, “they didn’t pay the electric bill,” and proceeded to lead the crowd in a “turn off the lights chant.” And when a group of protesters were complaining that they left their coats at their seats in Burlington, Vt., Trump told his staff to “confiscate their coats.”
So, when a baby is crying in the audience of one of his rallies, Trump made a harmless joke about not wanting a crying baby interrupting his speech — though not until after the mother had left. The entire event was a far cry from a “joust” with a baby as The New York Times would have you believe.
Joshua Pinho is a Digital Communications Associate for the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @Josh_Pinho.