The Carson “victory” party at the Embassy Suites Hotel … wacky Ben Carson found a hotel without a casino in Vegas, off the main drag, in a nothing area, off the Strip … the Republican Nevada caucus was over even before I left the hotel … Circus Circus, the original “family” casino at the old centre of the Strip, across from the Stardust (gone), the Sands (gone), the Riviera (shuttered for five years) … Trump was rating in the mid-40s, on the exit polls, and then on the early returns … the whole caucus takes three days to count, it’s a mess … and it never really shifted … at Embassy Suites, Carson’s got the full Secret Service detail even though he’s running along the bottom … in the room … about 50 or 60 people, a bank of about six cameras, Fox News on the big screen … the Carson crowd? The nicest people I have met, smiling, welcoming, hello, do you have a drink … there’s no bar, but iced tea is available … something to eat? … egg roll and chocolate strawberries … nice people, mix of white, black and Hispanic, Christians all, drawn to Carson’s gentle message … but oh dear, this is the place where they put the humans to be used as spare parts, they just haven’t been told yet … church ladies white and black, Lutheran-style pastors in white comb-overs … a black Christian rapper in a sideways hat, and a chain hanging on his backside … Carson operatives buzzing around, short men in comb overs … Trump’s figures on the blurting screen now confirmed at 46%, with Rubio second at 23% … new best for the Donald, doubling the second-place getter … blows away the argument that he couldn’t get a majority in his own right … if anyone dropped out now, Trump would get a slice of them, be over the line … big round banquet tables, people sitting wherever … all chatting to each other, strangers, a lot of laughter in the room … no seething, anger or resentment here … but what are they here for? … “Well,we’re working for Dr Carson’s victory” … “But he’s not going to win” “Ah” (smiling) “these things happen mysteriously” … No wonder they’re so happy … they’re all stoned on Jesus … The blaring news of the Donald’s triumph means nothing to them … Trump, as the news anchors say, winning every sector … won a huge slice of evangelicals, of Latinos, of college Republicans, of the working class (“we won every group!” he will say later, “we won the poorly educated! I love the poorly educated!” Huge roar …) … Carson’s on 6%, beating Kasich on 4%, who didn’t compete. Cheers in the room: “It’s starting to happen!” … buzz arises, and someone announces “Dr Ben Carson!” he makes his way through the crowd, surrounded by his mountainous security men … more animated than usual, which is to say, ambulant … the hands in praying mantis form … loved, he’s generous with time, taking to people as they try and hustle him to the small podium … when he begins to speak the TV’s still on blaring … Fox is covering him, so there’s an echo effect, a little biblical … no one turns it off for a minute, by which time Fox has switched to something else … Carson pauses and says, “Well, I believe that things are starting to happen here …” … hee hee, he really is wacky, but the crowd lights up … “I’ve had so many situations where people have said that this is impossible, it can’t be done, so unless I hear those words I don’t even get excited …”It’s just like in the pre-revolutionary days, the patriots who were concerned about the tyranny of George III and they started having meetings in their barns, their living rooms, in the middle of the street, inviting everybody … the biggest, most professional army on Earth versus a bunch of ragtag militia men …” That’s good, then this: “We have a bunch of fire extinguishers. And we are going to put the fire out. And we are going to the put the fire in our bellies you know …” Say what now? It is all deliciously mad, but the man has a decency to him … gah, Rundle, he’s pro-torture,for godssake don’t get sucked in … (meanwhile, Trump’s speech: You know I get greedy. I want money, money. I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, right? We get greedy, right? Now we’re going to get greedy for the United States. We’re going to grab and grab and grab.” Huge cheers.). Wacky Ben Carson’s going on and he’s going to be president … behind me a family with small kids, sipping iced tea, are talking about their regular trips to Disneyland …”It’s about 11 hours drive … we do the whole day … last time we walked 11 miles,” the guy says. “It’s our workout,” his wife says. “Well,” says someone, “it’s the happiest place on Earth.” As Ben Carson, the forty-twelfth President of the United States, leaves the room, shaking hands with “Mrs South-east Las Vegas 2015”, a married beauty queen still wearing her sash, Disneyland has nothing on this booze-free small room in the back of a dead hotel at the wrong end of Vegas.

Peter Fray

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