A lot happened at Donald Trump’s rally in Ashburn, Va. yesterday. Trump was gifted a Purple Heart, leading him to say that he “always wanted to get the Purple Heart” but “this was much easier.” He later kicked a screaming baby out of the rally. But that Trump is a shortcutting egotist who will lower himself to the level of a screaming child isn’t exactly a surprise. More telling is that Trump’s speech at the rally revealed a complete lack of knowledge about where he was.
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff has a great report from Ashburn, which is located in Virginia’s Loudoun County. As Woodruff explains, Loudoun County is a crucial one for Trump. It’s a prosperous exurb of Washington D.C., populated by families that have gotten rich off the largesse of the military industrial complex. It has voted with the presidential winner in every election since 2000.
Trump heralded the importance of Loudoun County in his speech, and as such you would have expected him to at least tailor his typically off-the-cuff ranting for the crowd he was speaking to. But! Via Woodruff:
Loudoun is the richest county in America. That’s due in part to the enormous amount of money the federal government spent on the War on Terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The place is replete with defense contractors, engineers, and rocket scientists. And it’s recession-proof; while the rest of the country struggled through the Great Recession, Loudoun kept sprouting up neighborhoods of McMansions, seemingly with a swimming pool in every backyard.
But Trump seems to think it’s part of the Rust Belt. Toward the end of his speech—to an atypically preppy, professional, clean-cut audience—the candidate bashed the county economy.
“You’re doing lousy over here, by the way, I hate to tell you,” he said.
That is empirically false.
He then listed a number of factory closures, including Ball Corp., which was five hours away in Bristol, as far from Loudoun as you can get without leaving the state. And he mentioned the closure of a Smithfield Foods Inc.
“Anybody used to work for Smithfield?” he asked the crowd.
It’s almost certain none of them did. The Smithfield plant that closed was in Hampton Roads, Virginia—three hours from Ashburn, in the southeast corner of the state.
He went on:
“Stanley Furniture closed its plant,” he continued.
Stanley Furniture did indeed recently close a plant, in 2014. That plant was in North Carolina.
He also mentioned the closure of a plant owned by Invista, a Koch Industries company that produces fabric and carpeting. That plant was two hours from Ashburn, and it closed eight years ago.
Right. So, what does Donald Trump know about a county vital to his chances of being president? Draw your own conclusions from the following back-and-forth, pulled from an interview Trump gave to the Washington Post just after the Ashburn rally:
RUCKER: Did you see Tim Kaine’s speech?
TRUMP: I thought it, yeah —
RUCKER: He tried to impersonate you.
TRUMP: Yeah, I thought he was terrible. I thought his speech was terrible. Although he’s not popular here. You know, this is Loudoun County. Loudoun County’s a big deal.
RUCKER: Whoever wins Loudoun wins the election.
TRUMP: Is that what you think?
RUCKER: It’s one of the swing counties, yeah.
TRUMP: Hey, George! Come here. He just said whoever wins Loudoun wins the election. This is Loudoun.
GEORGE GIGICOS, Trump campaign aide: We’re in Loudoun County now.
TRUMP: You got 800 acres in Loudoun.
RUCKER: Loudoun, Fairfax —
TRUMP: What about Fairfax? Same thing?
What does Donald Trump know about... anything?