BATON ROUGE — President-elect Donald Trump, who was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” this week, polled the audience at a political rally Friday about whether the publication should revert to calling the honor “Man of the Year.”
Trump, who prides himself on bucking political correctness, relayed to a crowd gathered in an airport hangar that Time had long used the “Man of the Year” moniker — not debuting the gender-neutral term until 1999.
“For years it was ‘Man of the Year,’ and I think even if a woman won, it was ‘Man of the Year,’” the president-elect said, adding that he considers that “a little shaky.”
Trump proceeded to ask the crowd to cheer based on which they preferred. “Man of the Year” drew a significantly heartier response.
“That could be why the magazine business isn’t so great,” Trump quipped. “Anyway, who cares?”
The off-the-cuff survey came toward the end of what was billed as a “get-out-the-vote” rally for fellow Republican John Neely Kennedy, who is in a runoff election Saturday for a U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana.
During the course of the rally, for which Trump arrived about two hours late, he also boasted of his rising popularity, mused about whether military procurement personnel should be barred for life from working for government contractors and put in another pitch for punishing people who burn the American flag.
Kennedy, Louisiana’s state treasurer, faces Democrat Foster Campbell, the state’s public service commissioner, in a contest for the seat of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who is retiring.
Trump praised Kennedy as a “good” person and said Kennedy's election to the Senate would help him implement his agenda, including building a wall on the Mexican border.
“If John’s not there, maybe we’re not going to build the wall,” Trump said.
Kennedy is heavily favored to win. If he does, Republicans would have a 52-to-48 advantage over Democrats in the Senate — a slightly more favorable margin for Trump than if Campbell prevails.
In Louisiana, candidates must meet a 50-percent threshold to win an election. Kennedy, a former corporate lawyer, got 25 percent of the vote in November, while Campbell, a cattle farmer and insurance-agency owner, received nearly 18 percent. (In the field of 24 candidates, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke pulled in 3 percent of the vote.)
After touting Kennedy’s candidacy, Trump ticked off a long list of campaign promises to which he said he remains committed, including renegotiating trade deals.
“We have stupid trade, stupid trade,” Trump said. “It’s dumb. It’s a chronic drag on growth, and a destroyer of jobs and the wealth of our country.”
Trump also revisited his concern voiced on Twitter this week that the amount the Pentagon plans to spend on a new Air Force One program is far too much and that the contract with Boeing should be killed.
He used “the Boeing situation” as a springboard into a discussion about limiting the future job prospects of military procurement personnel.
“Now there are people, procurement people, now some of these people then go to work for these companies,” Trump said, referring to military contractors, such as Boeing. “I think I’m going to — and I’m going to have to check this out — they’re not going to like me to say this — but I think I’m going to impose a ban that anybody that gives out these massive military contracts should never, ever be allowed to work — ever, I don’t mean in five years, in 10 years — should never be allowed to work for those companies that make the equipment.”
At another point, Trump brought up a recent tweet in which he suggested that those who burn American flags should possibly be subject to a year in jail or loss of their citizenship. The Supreme Court has declared that flag-burning is protected under the First Amendment.
“I’m a big believer in free speech, but maybe we’re going to be putting something in to see if we can do something about it, because this is a special case,” Trump said.
He voiced his displeasure for “when I see people burning the American flag and then stepping on it, as it’s burning up, and then stomping on it.”
“We are shooting up,” Trump told his crowd. “We’re like a rocket ship.”
People here lined up before 7 a.m. to see Trump., some bundled in blankets or with ear flaps tied snugly under unshaven chins, buoyant despite the uncharacteristic cold.
They hugged one another, blew on their hands and waved American flags. Some had handmade signs: “Louisiana loves President Donald Trump!” “Louisiana Sportsman support Trump.” A woman with a big, red sign that said, “CNN sucks” looked around at people not in line. “Any of you CNN?” she asked hopefully, bouncing the sign and laughing.
After the rally ended, Lynne Graner, who was wearing a full-length black fur coat and matching hat, said that she thinks Time magazine’s use of “Person of the Year” is silly.
“I'm not interested in the PC 'Person of the Year' thing,” she said.
She said that she wasn't surprised at how loud the applause was for “Man of the Year” when Trump conducted his poll.
“I think everyone is pretty much tired of the PC type stuff,” she said. “That's something we need to get rid of.”
Ken and Lynda Dunaway drove from Hattiesburg, Miss., to hear Trump, and they were thrilled with his speech.
Ken Dunaway said that he expected the reaction Trump got from his “Man of the Year” survey.
Lynda Dunaway said, “I was a little surprised there weren't more women saying, ‘Person of the Year.’”
“I was glad,” she added. “I thought it was just because I’m old but apparently it’s all ages” who share that view.
Wagner reported from Washington. Emily Guskin contributed to this report.