ATLANTA — With Jeb Bush out of the race, Donald Trump was in need of a new straw man. On Sunday, the day after a big, "beautiful" win in South Carolina's primary, Trump found at least a temporary way to fill the Bush void when the lights suddenly went out during his speech.
"Oh, I like that much better," Trump said as the 5,000-plus-person crowd cheered and laughed. "Those lights were brutal. Are they coming from the dishonest press?"
When they came back on, he bellowed: "Don't turn the lights on!"
It wasn't just a matter of preference, but a lesson in business savvy.
"Plus we save on electricity, right? And because the lights don't work, I won't pay the rent — so better lighting and we don't pay the rent. Right? right?"
He went on: "NO, GET THOSE LIGHTS OFF. OFF! Turn them off. They're too bright. TURN THEM OFF! Turn them off. Let's go, ready?"
Then Trump managed to turn the moment into a lesson about how the country should negotiate.
"That's the way we have to negotiate for our country ... the lights go off, it's better," he said. "We say we want the lights. Oh, it's terrible, we take a big deduction off the rent because the lights are off, but it's actually better. It's the kind of sick thinking we really need for our country. Isn't that right?"
The lights remained off for the rest of the rally, per Trump's very loud, very public request. An audio operator told NBC News that a protester pulled the cable.