The 6 Most Bizarre and Baffling Trump Rally Rants (2024)

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By Margaret Hartmann, senior editor for Intelligencer who has worked at New York since 2012

The 6 Most Bizarre and Baffling Trump Rally Rants (2)

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Getty Images

Donald Trump’s rally speeches have always been a dizzying mix of fearmongering, conspiracy theories, threats against his enemies, and laments about how America is a “nation in decline.” Since Trump made Joe Biden’s decrepitude the centerpiece of his 2024 campaign, even before the Democrat’s calamitous debate, you might have expected the Republican to focus on appearing more competent and presidential at his MAGA gatherings. Yet Trump’s rallies are now weirder than ever.

It’s not just that the substance of Trump’s remarks has grown more disturbing, though it certainly has (for example, he regularly celebrates the January 6 rioters and uses Nazi rhetoric to describe migrants). These days his speeches are also littered with pointless and astoundingly strange musings, like his anti-shark diatribes and tributes to a fictional serial killer.

Trump insists he isn’t incoherent; he’s just misunderstood. “The fake news will say ‘Trump is rambling,’” he declared recently in Philadelphia. “No, it’s genius what I’m doing up here, but nobody understands.”

You can be the judge of that. Here’s a running list of Trump’s most bizarre rally rants from the 2024 campaign trail.

Trump claims magnets don’t work underwater.

Trump likes to brag that he’s “like, a really smart person,” often citing his MIT professor-uncle as proof that scientific brilliance is in his genes. But it seems Uncle John forgot to cover the basics properties of magnets.

“Think of it, magnets,” Trump said at a January 2024 rally in Mason City, Iowa. “Now all I know about magnets is this, give me a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnets, that’s the end of the magnets.”

Fact check: It is not.

Trump brags about putting on pants.

Okay, so Trump isn’t smarter than a fifth-grader when it comes to magnets. But as he revealed at the same January rally in Mason City, he does dress himself like a big boy.

“First they say,‘Sir, how do you do it? How do you wake up in the morning and put on your pants?’” Trump mused. “And I say, ‘Well, I don’t think about it too much.’ I don’t want to think about it because if I think about it too much maybe I won’t want to do it, but I love it because we’re going to do something for this country that’s never been done before.”

Trump is so proud of his ability to put on pants that he bragged about it again at a rally in the Bronx in May:

Trump blasts Abraham Lincoln for not negotiating his way out of a Civil War.

Trump has a longstanding rivalry with Abraham Lincoln. It seems he knows this will not be received well by the public, as Lincoln is beloved, and also dead. But during a January rally in Newton, Iowa, the 45th president could not resist jabbing the 16th president for failing to prevent the Civil War via negotiation.

“So many mistakes were made” ahead of the Civil War, Trump said. “See, there was something I think could have been negotiated, to be honest with you. I think you could have negotiated that. All the people died. So many people died.”

Trump went on to suggest that concerns about his legacy might have prevented Lincoln from embracing the lessons of The Art of the Deal.

“Abraham Lincoln, of course, if he negotiated it, you probably wouldn’t even know who Abraham Lincoln was,” Trump said. “He would’ve been president, but he would’ve been president, and he would have been — he wouldn’t have been theAbraham Lincoln.”

Trump imitates Dread Pirate Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg.

In April, Trump showed off another thing he has on Lincoln: His predecessor’s Gettysburg Address did not feature a pirate impression. (As far as we know!)

After describing the Battle of Gettysburg, in which about 50,000 soldiers died, as “so beautiful in so many different ways,” Trump delivered a fake quote from Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a Captain Jack Sparrow voice:

Robert E. Lee, who’s no longer in favor — did you ever notice it? He’s no longer in favor. “Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.” They were fighting uphill. He said, “Wow, that was a big mistake.” He lost his big general. “Never fight uphill, me boys,” but it was too late.

Trump reveals he’d rather die by shark than by electrocution.

The chances of Donald Trump being caught on a sinking boat and forced to choose between electrocution and being devoured by a shark are fairly slim. Yet he seems to think about this dilemma quite a lot.

He debuted his shark-versus-electrocution riff during an October 2023 rally in Ottumwa, Iowa. There was no context that would have explained these remarks, other than the fact that Trump has a well-documented shark phobia and an irrational disdain for electric-powered vehicles.

No one had any idea what Trump was talking about, but that did not keep him from telling the tale again and again during rallies, or insisting in June that we’re dumb for not understanding his “smart story” about ways he might die at sea.

Trump praises ‘great man’ Hannibal Lecter.

If there’s one Trump rant that’s guaranteed to make your brain melt, it’s the one where he gushes about fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Praising the Silence of the Lambs villain is now a regular part of Trump’s stump speech, but most people only noticed in May because he went on and on about it.

Trump does sort of have a reason for bringing up Lecter: He’s invoking the movie villain to demonize migrants. But Trump’s tale is all wrong, both factually and dramaturgically. Here’s why:

• Trump says many migrants have been in mental institutions like the one shown in Silence of the Lambs, but there is no evidence that criminalsandmentally illpeople are flooding into the U.S.

• Trump has repeatedly said that Hannibal Lecter is a “great man’ who deserves our “congratulations” — so why keep him out of the U.S.?

• Trump seems confused about whether Hannibal Lecter is a character or the man who played him. He’s remarked, “Hannibal Lecter, how great an actor was he?”

• Trump has said he loves Lecter because the actor once said “I love Donald Trump” in a TV interview. It’s unclear who he was referring to, but all the actors who have portrayed Lecter — Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelsen,andBrian Cox — have said they dislike Trump.

• Trump often refers to “the late, great Hannibal Lecter,” but the character does not die in any of the book, TV, or film adaptations.

• By the end of The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter has escaped from theBaltimoreState Hospital for the Criminally Insane and is stalking his next victim in the Bahamas. So this is an example of the United States unleashing its inmates on a foreign country, not the other way around.

As the supercut below shows, Trump isn’t stressing about any of these details. The once-and-possibly-future president of the United States just loves yelling “Hannibal Lecter!” at his rallies, even if it doesn’t make any sense.

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The 6 Most Bizarre and Baffling Trump Rally Rants
The 6 Most Bizarre and Baffling Trump Rally Rants (2024)

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