CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Walking out of Quicken Loans Arena after Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination last night, a man whose hair has inspired a thousand parodies -- from Saturday Night Live to The Simpsons -- couldn’t make it more than a few steps without people begging to take pictures with him. Cops posed with their arms around him. Middle-aged men jogged sweatily after him, hoping for a moment of his time.
It was, of course, boxing promoter Don King, clad in his signature rhinestone denim jacket, greeting all and sundry with a broad smile and a handshake.
Though Trump had at one point floated the idea of giving King a speaking role at the convention, the controversial promoter was not on the podium last night. However, he did make it into the arena to see his friend deliver an hour-and-fifteen-minute acceptance speech. He declared himself impressed.
“I thought it was great, I thought it was good,” he said, as assistants guided him through a tangle of fences and barriers that made up the security perimeter around the arena. “But the significant part for me is: We want to create a whole new system. We want to tear this system apart. America first. I want to make America great again.”
Like many of Trump’s supporters, King seemed far less interested in the details of HOW trump will do the things he promises. It’s apparently the promises that are key.
“The rest of it, that’s politicizing,” King continued. “What I want is the substance of what he’s going to do and that’s going to make the difference because the people are tired and rejecting everything.”
But what about Trump’s lack of experience as a political leader? Will he actually be able to do the things he says he will?
“Well, the thing about it is: What he can’t do? He would tell on the people that’s blocking him to keep it from happening. And if it’s for the best interests of the American people, you’re going to get their support -- because they’re the ones that chose Donald Trump.”
Trump and King are in some ways two of a kind, rolling from scandal to scandal in long lives lived largely in public. For every contractor or lender that has sued Trump, there’s a boxer who has taken King to court claiming he was cheated.
Both men have horrified the establishment of their respective realms of influence and come out winners, at least as they themselves define it.
King was laughing out loud now, at the prospect of his old friend upending the American political system.
“Nobody, the Republicans or the Democrats, wanted Trump,” he said with a guffaw. “The people -- I’ll tell you again -- so this is the spirit of America reclaiming its glory. Ain’t no party. It’s the man, not the party.”