US President Donald Trump has been spoiled by the megacrowds of India and says the size of the rallies back home may never excite him.
“I may never be excited again about a crowd after going to India,” Trump said at a rally in Charleston, North Carolina, on Friday night.
As he started to speak about Indian people’s affection for Americans, he was repeatedly interrupted by cheers from the crowd of 15,000.
He said: “They have a great love for (applause from the crowd), they have a great love… (more applause), they have a great leader, and they have great love for the people of this country. That was really a worthwhile trip.”
He called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a great guy, loved by the people of India.”
Trump has an obsession with crowd sizes and one of the first controversies – right on the day he started – was about the media reports on the number of people at the swearing-in ceremony which was disputed by his officials.
Before going to India, Trump had said that Modi had told him to expect huge crowds ranging in size from five million to 10 million.
Trump said at his rally: “Here’s the problem, this is a big crowd and normally I like talking about my crowds because I get the crowds that nobody else gets. And I just got back from 140, or 150 or 160 thousand and now I am coming here, what does this place hold, 15 (thousand)? It is hard to be enthused. Do you understand that?”
But he went on to explain away the smaller numbers at the North Charleston Coliseum: “But get this, they have 1.5 billion people, but we have 350 (million). So we are doing pretty well. I’ll tell you what, but I love this crowd and I love that crowd too.”
The meeting was held to rally his supporters and make a show of strength on the eve of the Democratic Party’s primary poll in South Carolina to select the party’s nominee to challenge Trump in the November election.
Throughout the speech he attacked the Democratic Party candidates for the presidential nomination using derogatory nicknames for them.
While many of the Republican leaders were on the stage with him, the state’s former Governor Nikki Haley, who is the only Indian American to have served on the federal cabinet was not among them, and he did not mention her name in the 82-minute address.
Scattered throughout his address were criticisms of what he called the “fake news” media, which he said did not give credit for his achievements and downplayed the size of his crowds.
Referring to Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium, he said: “In India, I hate to say this to you, so they actually have 129,000-seat stadium. Did you see? The place was packed. And they (US media) did better than most. They gave me credit for 100,000. That was not bad. So, 129,000. The stadium holds a field that is about three times (the size of the field for major US sports) – it’s cricket — it’s biggest stadium.”
Many of the US media reports did say that the stadium held 120,000 people.