President Trump walked out of a fake brick chimney at a rally in Biloxi, Miss., like Tim Allen on his first night as Santa Claus: without a beard or explanation.
It was Trump’s second rally of the night in Mississippi on Monday as he campaigned for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on the eve of the election, and the arena was like a snow globe, full of cheer and festivity and insulated from the contentious political brawls over tear gas at the border or the racial politics that have clouded Hyde-Smith’s campaign.
Christmas stockings and a fake wreath hung from the chimney. Life-size nut crackers and Christmas trees decorated the stage. A costumed Santa and Mrs. Claus in Make America Great Again hats catapulted MAGA apparel into the crowd like presents as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” blared from the speakers. And as Trump made his St. Nick-like entrance, artificial snow floated from the rafters, mystifying seemingly everyone but Trump, who tried to swat it away.
“Look, snow — I didn’t know what was going on,” said Trump, who last year claimed to be saving the phrase “Merry Christmas” from politically correct “Happy Holidays”-wishers. “I said, You sure this is indoor? That beautiful snow looks so real. That’s the end of my suit. That’s the end of the hair for tonight.”
So much for the Santa act.
Trump, master of the grand entrance, has been regaling supporters with theatrical appearances at political rallies or events from the moment he descended down an escalator to announce his candidacy for president. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he took the stage to the tune of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” as if he were an ominous Freddie Mercury impersonator, emerging as a slow-moving black silhouette in the glow of blinding white light. Earlier this month, Trump emerged from Air Force One against the backdrop of a radiant, canvas-worthy sunset in front of a crowd of thousands who watched in amazement, leaving some with goose bumps, as The Post’s Philip Rucker reported then.
Earlier in the evening, during Trump’s first rally in Tupelo, Miss., his entrance didn’t rival the Santa Claus bit. But still Trump kicked off the night with an immediate crowd-pleaser (or, alternatively, a comparison sure to provoke local skepticism): He compared himself to Elvis, Tupelo’s most beloved hometown son.
“I shouldn’t say this,” Trump said almost immediately upon taking the podium, just after professing his love for the King. “You’ll say I’m very conceited, because I’m not, but other than the blond hair when I was growing up they said I looked like Elvis. You see that? Can you believe it? I always considered that a great compliment.”
Trump appears to be a big Elvis fan: He awarded the rock star a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year, citing his enduring contributions to music and his service in the Army, as well as his “soaring” television ratings as both a musician and actor.
Predictably, both the Elvis and Santa comparisons lit up the Twitterverse with jokes.
“He could hand out Chevy Impalas,” one user wrote in response to a tweet from CBS News, asking, “Are you on Pres. Trump’s ‘Naughty’ or ‘Nice’ list this year?”
“Better be good. Or Santa Trump will bring you a lump of clean, beautiful coal,” said another.
Save for some of Trump’s supporters, who said they did see a resemblance, few were sold on the Elvis comparison.
“Unlike Elvis, Trump wouldn’t dream of shooting his beloved TV,” one man said.
George Takei, the activist and former Star Trek actor, chimed in to say that, in fact, when he was “fully grown I looked like John Lennon. Or was that Yoko?”
Hyde-Smith, who appeared with Trump at both rallies, faces Democratic challenger Mike Espy, who, if elected, would become the first black candidate in Mississippi to win a statewide office in more than a century.
Far from the Christmas cheer found in Biloxi Monday night, the campaign has been wrought with controversy swirling around race as Hyde-Smith has come under scrutiny for her nostalgia for the Confederacy and for attending and enrolling her daughter in a so-called segregation academy, a private school intended to skirt around integration by enrolling all or overwhelmingly white students.
On Monday night, Trump acknowledged one of Hyde-Smith’s earlier blunders, in which she jokingly said she would follow a close friend to a “public hanging” and sit in the front row.
“She certainly didn’t mean that,” Trump said.