DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Donald Trump Show rolled onto the campus of Drake University at the exact moment a bunch of “politicians” were debating each other on television Thursday night.
Since Trump doesn’t consider himself a politician -- even though he’s running for president -- he blew off the Republican debate and staged a celebration of his ability to raise money for charity.
To the strains of the Rolling Stones, he strode onto the stage. He wore a gleaming white grin and his famously aerodynamic orange hair, and pointed and waved like the TV star he is.
Trump was born in Queens, New York, not in a crossfire hurricane, and his daddy gave him a million bucks to start in business. But none of that mattered to the crowd inside and out. Nor does it seem to matter to Iowa Republicans, judging from HuffPost Pollster's aggregation of 92 polls that shows Trump with a widening lead heading into the final weekend before the caucuses.
To the audience in the small theater and the hundreds of yards worth of folks lined up on the sidewalks outside, Trump was Jumpin’ Jack Flash -- a gas, gas, gas.
There were screams and even a squeal or two when he appeared.
Many, if not most, of the people who show up at Trump rallies are not closely aligned with the world of politics and its operation. They tend not to be union members, activists for seniors, or members of the church political outreach club.
They are average and politically unconnected people who feel that the government and big companies and foreign countries have screwed or forgotten them.
And they think the country -- which is all they’ve got by way of grandeur -- is falling apart and away from them in ways they cannot explain, but feel in their hearts and paychecks.
It’s a crowd in which the men, and some of the women, are far more likely to be wearing a football jersey than a Polo sweater.
They tend to be middle age, some with kids in tow. It's not the Hillary sedate senior crowd or the burning Bernie young people. Not so many are alumni of Iowa or Iowa State, but some are grads of high school and community college.
“Trump is the one who can bring the country back to what it used to be,” said Steve Fligg, a salesman from Des Moines, who was standing in a long line on the Drake campus.
“We used to be number one, but now we are losing that to China,” he said.
“Trump has the knowledge and the background to really run our country and bring it back because he’s got a lot of business experience.”
Jason Hall, a 41-year-old union man who is not a Trump fan, has a lot of friends who are.
“Trump is ‘tavern talk’ and they loved it,” Hall said. “They are people who get a lot of their information from TV ads and don’t know much about any of the issues. But they hear Trump and they like that he sounds like he is on a barstool.”
Inside the auditorium, the crowd cheered as Trump ticked off the names of rich friends he had commanded to give money to the cause of the night: military veterans.
He claimed to have raised $5 million in 24 hours of phone calls. It was like one of those TV “telethons” of old, except that it was The Donald doing all the dialing on his own.
Where all the money will go and how exactly it will be spent by the Trump Foundation -- which Trump uses to advertise his good works -- was left unspoken. But to the crowd in the theater, it was as though he had performed some kind of miracle -- with the implication that he could do the same for everyone in the room and everyone in the country.
He could be Midas for All, and he would scare away the Chinese and the undocumented immigrants and ISIS radical Islamists and inefficient Washington bureaucrats and … make America Great Again.
Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.
Also on HuffPost: