First, he says he loves babies. Then he says he was kidding and has his staff escort the child out.
Editor's note: Since this piece was first published Aug. 3, the mother of the crying baby has said she was not in fact ejected from the facility, but was in the process of stepping outside with her child when Mr. Trump suggested she leave, which she understood to be a joke.
"Don't worry about that baby. I love babies," Donald Trump said. "I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don't worry, don't worry."
And then, moments later, his tone changed.
"Actually, I was only kidding. You can get that baby out of here," he said. "Don't worry, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I'm speaking."
I heard this on the radio as I was driving yesterday — my own baby whining in the back seat — and my cheeks burned for that mother.
The headlines have focused on the baby, the irony of a politician banishing a baby. But the story is really about how Mr. Trump humiliated the mother, who was there, presumably, because she supports him.
The baby won't remember this and won't care, but the mother will carry the shame for a long time. As any parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle or older sibling knows, it's extremely embarrassing to hold a crying baby in a public place. Everyone's eyes are on you, full of blame, even though a baby's mood is only slightly more controllable than the weather.
I imagine this mother waited a long time to get into the Trump rally. She probably brought her baby because she hoped Mr. Trump would kiss her baby, pose for a photo. I'm sure she was horrified when the baby started crying, but hoped the usual tricks would calm him. I'm sure she didn't want to leave and lose her place. I'm sure she took Mr. Trump at his word when he said, "Don't worry."
Instead, Mr. Trump humiliated this mother in front of the crowd. He belittled her for taking him at his word. "I think she really believed me," he said. Strange words for someone who punctuates his speeches with, "Believe me."
It's a bully's game, manipulative and mean. Lie and then taunt someone for trusting you. If Mr. Trump would sum up his campaign in a few words, perhaps they would be, "I think they really believed me."