The heat bore down on swarms of rallygoers with the weight of a thousand suns Wednesday afternoon as they waited to hear from their heroes: Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.
The sweating was no joke. People were dripping from their scalps and quickly drenching the armpits of their button-down shirts. For many, the day became a quest to find an escape hatch from the heat as much as waiting patiently to hear Trump and Cruz offer their respective messages about how to get the country back on the right track.
Early on an announcement was made: All rallygoers will relieve themselves at the Botanical Gardens and not inside Congress or the House and Senate office buildings. No wonder Congress was later booed.
The extreme heat meant sharing a patch of shade under a tree with fellow sweat balls. Or, in the case of one man – a genius, really – who used his yarmulke to create a personalized shade device by tucking a flier into the cap so it jutted out from the top of his head like a beak.
My top two favorites included 1) a woman who sat in the grass with a white washcloth draped haphazardly on the top of her head and 2) a woman in sturdy bone colored shoes and matching socks that hit the tops of her shins. She carried an umbrella and draped a white blouse over it, effectively transforming it into a self-awning.
The speakers were on their way. But first, how about a birthday shout-out to Breitbart News reporter Matthew Boyle, who likely can’t answer the burning question of which presidential hopeful he likes more. Such a tossup. One thing is for certain — if Trump and Cruz were a same-sex couple, Boyle would be their offspring. Boyle is a fan favorite in this crowd — a few years back they even gave him a standing ovation at a Capitol Hill presser. This time, tea party organizers took to the microphone to celebrate his birth.
Soon enough, Boyle’s fathers arrived.
“You cannot wash your hands of that blood,” declared Cruz during his speech, referring to anyone who supports a U.S. deal with Iran. A woman in a neon green lawn chair waving an American flag cried out, “NO!”
Whenever the senator mentioned members of Congress, the crowd collectively booed.
Cruz said if the Iran deal goes through that tens of millions of Americans on the eastern seaboard would die. “Get it done,” he said ominously. “Stop this deal!”
As if Cruz’s words weren’t dark enough, Trump’s walk-up music was R.E.M’s “It’s The End of World As We Know It.”
Dressed in red, white and blue, Trump appeared to be oblivious to a sizable mob of protesters who surfaced and began shouting, “HEY HEY HO HO DONALD TRUMP HAS GOT TO GO.”
As they were being escorted out of the audience, a woman remarked to no one in particular, “Trump is the guy. That’s who we should listen to.”
Trump’s speech was largely already used material. “We are led by very very stupid people,” he charged. “…Our vets are treated horribly.”
A new line, however, emerged: “We will have so much winning if I get elected president that you’ll get bored with winning.”
Syndicated conservative radio host Mark Levin was another crowd pleaser. “Thanks for coming, except for those malcontents over there,” he said in the general direction of the Trump haters.
The scene of Trump exiting the front lawn of the Capitol was something to behold. Completely surrounded by a large gaggle of Capitol Police Officers, the group herded the GOP frontrunner as tea partiers shouted words of encouragement.
“Go Donald!” one man yelled. “Keep telling the truth, Donald. Keep telling the truth, Donald.”
But one woman was not so sure about him. “I’m here against the treaty,” said Ruth Horak. “He says a lot of good things, but I’m not sure he’s diplomatic enough to be president.”
Tea partiers, at least most of the ones who spoke to The Mirror, would only offer their first names.
I found Nancy on the ground with her hair wrapped in a black cloth turban.
“He was great as always,” the Alexandria, Va. resident said of Trump. “He’s going to save the country. The Iranian regime is worse than Hitler.”
Asked about the media’s treatment of Trump, she replied, “I think some of them are coming around. They’ll wake up when some of their families are dead.”
At the podium was Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who wore military fatigues, a black T-shirt and his signature wildly frizzy hairdo tied up in a bandana.
“I was anti when anti wasn’t even cool,” he said. “…What we are America, we’re anti-corruption, we are anti rippin’ babies out of their mother’s wombs and we are pro God almighty.”
Former Alaskan Gov. and Veep hopeful Sarah Palin received lots of whoops and hollers from the crowd. She sounded as loopy as ever.
“I’ve always said sweat is my sanity,” she said. (???)
She plowed on: “As I sweat, let’s bring some sanity to this discussion about this insane treaty that’s before Congress. …Thank you for being here to raise a voice for sanity. …It’s up to us to tell the enemy ‘we win, you lose’ just like Ronald Reagan would’ve told ’em. …You don’t reward terrorism, you kill it.”
The tea partiers ate it up. “I LOVE YOU SARAH WHOOOO!!” a woman yelled out.
A man growled, “TELL ‘EM SARAH!”
An ardent Trump supporter named Bruce sat on a wall outside the Capitol with his short sleeved shirt unbuttoned to his bellybutton. With his gut peeking out, it was a classic look, but rather unpleasant just the same.
But who could blame him for trying to air himself out? This was a matter of trying to make yourself comfortable in what felt like an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Actually it was a mere 95 degrees, but still.
Bruce is a clearly hot for Trump.
Asked why, he replied, “Because he’s not in anyone’s pocket. He’s in his own pocket.”
Bruce’s brother Gary is also all in for Trump.
“He’s my guy,” he said. He was impressive. He has the right ideas.”
Gary was a little disappointed that Trump didn’t have any new lines. “I didn’t hear anything new,” he said.
When I asked the brothers for a picture, Bruce buttoned up and pulled his son in close.
A man sweats through his suit.
This is the infamous yarmulke visor.
Look who’s in the V.I.P. area! It’s former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who previously ran for president.
A man with sopping wet hair.
A woman with a cross atop a blob of sweat.
Even beneath her surgical mask, a woman can be heard saying, “Trump is the guy. That’s who we should listen to.”
The GOP frontrunner.
The GOP frontrunner II.
Bruce (center) and Gary (at right).
Nancy: “The Iranian regime is worse than Hitler.”
A jamboree band protests the rally in song.
A woman creates an awning with her blouse.
An overheated man puts a wet washcloth on his head.