SIOUX CITY — Donald Trump, on the final night of his unprecedented Iowa campaign, delivered another unorthodox rally.
Two armchairs adorned the stage of the Sioux City Orpheum theater, occupied by Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University. Falwell, whose father was an icon of the religious Right, was on stage to strengthen Trump's support among the crucial evangelical vote that makes up about half of the Iowa Republican caucus vote.
The topic of the rally wandered — as is Trump's tendency — with Trump occasionally finding himself delivering tangents from tangents from tangents. The thrust of Trump's message was clear, though: the country is currently in shambles, and "We're going to be great again," as the billionaire put it.
Falwell, and to a lesser degree Trump, hit many conservative notes before the Republican crowd — protecting gun rights, building a wall along the Mexican border, cutting federal spending, and defending of religious conservatives.
But it wasn't a standard conservative appeal. Trump went on at length about his efforts to build ballroom at the White House. He praised China's economic policies.
The crowd reflected Trump's non-ideological strain. Brian and Ann Jacobsen both voted for Obama in 2008. "We believed him," Mr. Jacobsen said. "Here we are eight years later, and we're worse off."
Mrs. Jacobson, on board for Trump now, said her final two were Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Curt Strathman is also a former Obama voter. He doesn't want Obamacare repealed, but just "fixed," so as to more aggressively contain health-care costs. Today he was out for Trump.
Falwell pointed out that Trump is "pulling voters from the Democratic Party … from many walks of life that don't normally vote Republican
While candidates like Rubio and Cruz work at projecting conservatism, Trump simply projects confidence. Getting Mexico to pay for the border wall, he said, "It will be, trust me, very very easy — very easy."
Half of Trump's appeal is simply his declaration that the state of the union is not strong. Of his own campaign, he said, "It's a story about people who are fed-up. You can call it anger."
"We just want to see great government. We want to see security. We want to see the country rich again."
The living-room-chair format was odd, and Falwell's sleepy delivery combined with the formality of the Orpheum theater to make the rally more low-energy than a typical Trump affair. Still, the crowd regularly erupted into cheers, particularly over Trump's predictions of victory.
Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.