This is disturbing and skilful stuff. A performance of populism quite unlike the rhetoric of it which we’re much more familiar with:
“The other night in the debate,” he told thousands in Manchester, “they asked Ted Cruz a serious question: what do you think of waterboarding? Is it OK? I thought he’d say absolutely, and he didn’t. And he said, well, he’s concerned because some people –”
A woman near the front of the crowd interrupted. “He’s a pussy!”
Trump admonished her for saying “a terrible thing”.
“You know what she just said?” he asked. “Shout it out, because I don’t want to say it.”
“You’re not allowed to say that,” he continued. “I never expect to hear that from you again.”
Trump paused, looked out at his election-eve audience and leaned into the microphone: “She said he’s a pussy.”
The audience cheered – shouting “Trump! Trump!” – before he gave the woman a mock admonishment and returned to his rambling, more than 45-minute speech. “For the press,” he said, looking up at the television cameras, “this is a serious reprimand.”