Target to open small-format store in Midtown Detroit

Michael Moore holds Clinton rally in Trump Country

Adam Graham, The Detroit News

Wilmington, Ohio – He may have been in Clinton County, “but we’re not in Clinton Country,” Michael Moore told an audience in southwestern Ohio on Friday night.

The marquee outside the Murphy Theatre in Wilmington, Ohio on Friday night.

Indeed, the controversial Oscar-winning documentarian and political satirist was smack dab in the middle of Trump Country, performing a one-man show titled “Michael Moore: Live from Trump and Clinton Land” at the Murphy Theatre in downtown Wilmington, Ohio.

The setting was overwhelmingly Republican; of the county’s 26,000 registered voters, just 500 are Democrats. (After spending a few days in town, “I think they’re off by two zeroes,” Moore said of the lack of Democratic support he witnessed.)  

Signs supporting Donald Trump dominate the lawns of this small town, the birthplace of the banana split, where the Wilmington High School marching band – “the pride of Wilmington, Ohio” – made the front page of Friday’s local newspaper.

Yet despite an open invitation on the theatre’s marquee, few Trump supporters showed up for the Michigan filmmaker’s show, his second of two performances, both of which were taped for an upcoming TV special.

Instead, the audience of around 500 was made up mostly of Hillary Clinton supporters – some enthusiastic, some begrudging – along with a few Bernie Bros and a handful of undecideds. They were invited for a free performance that promised to “bridge the current Great American Divide through humor and a few gentle facts,” according to a show description.  

Moore, sporting a red San Francisco 49ers cap, discussed both candidates during the two-plus hour taping, saying he feared Trump would win the election while aiming to inspire support for Clinton, for whom he said he’s never cast a vote. (He voted for Obama in the 2008 primaries and Bernie Sanders earlier this year.)

The stage inside the historic 98-year-old theatre was decorated with five large black-and-white photographic banners of Clinton, along with a Presidential podium, a living room set and an office-like desk. A mock nuclear missile rested in the corner of the stage – a reminder of what’s at stake in next month’s election, Moore explained.

He humorously dissected the election, discussing the role millennials will play and the blame he sees being shifted their way (“they are not responsible for this, we are responsible!” he said), and joked about the shifting demographics of our culture, including the birth rate being skewered toward females (“Mother Nature has looked at the situation and decided that men are bad for the planet”).

Moore described Trump as a “human Molotov cocktail” who, if elected, would be “the last President of the United States,” and showed several videos satirizing the GOP Presidential hopeful. Regarding Friday’s bombshell leaked audio of Trump in 2005, Moore doubted it would have any effect on Trump’s support. “Don’t think this is going to be the end of Trump!” Moore said, likening him to a monster in a science fiction movie who only gets stronger the more stuff that gets thrown his way.

Moore spent most of his time on Clinton, questioning the lack of enthusiasm surrounding her and asking audience members – even those reluctant in their support, or those not supporting her at all – to stand up and say something nice about her. He started the discussion by saying three nice things about George W. Bush, the subject of his Academy Award-winning documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” calling him a good parent, celebrating his support of AIDS relief in Africa and cheering his love of his pets.

Moore focused on Clinton’s healthcare initiatives during the 1990s and decried her treatment in the media then and now.

He pledged his support for her and detailed the time he met her at the White House (he dedicated a chapter to Clinton in his 1997 book “Downsize This!”) but didn’t totally give her a pass; Moore said if Clinton gets elected and doesn’t make good on her promises during her first two years in office, he would run for President in 2020.

Moore had originally planned to stage the show at the Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio, 100 miles northeast of Wilmington, but theater managers pulled the plug on the deal last month.

Moore said owners of the Murphy also faced opposition for hosting the event but applauding them for seeing the agreement through. “We’ve had Glenn Beck on stage in this theater,” Moore said, “we can have Michael Moore.”  

The TV special should be available on or near Oct. 17, Moore said, adding, “it will be available to everyone in a very inexpensive format.”   

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama