Joseph Sohm /
Joseph Sohm /

For me, July 29 was a study in contrasts. Mid-morning that Friday, I met Paul Hasty, a local business owner who received recognition from the Pikes Peak Workforce Center for his efforts in hiring former convicts.

Hasty is a joyful, peaceful guy who firmly believes, “I wasn’t put on this Earth to get rich or to be famous. I was put on this Earth to help people — and I’m blessed enough to make a difference.”

Hasty is understandably proud of his small business (see the story about Spoiler Dude on page 8). And his favorite phrase, “I’m so blessed,” was repeated frequently throughout the hour-long interview.

An Army veteran, Hasty is giving away his most profitable product — window film that won’t allow people to break into homes or businesses, even after the window’s been shot — to area churches and nonprofits.

I left Hasty’s shop to go to the Donald J. Trump town hall at UCCS. There was nothing peaceful, joyful or even hopeful in the room — people were polite enough, I guess, but the atmosphere was charged with anger and frustration.

And Trump only stoked those flames — to the chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!”

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Trump started by accusing Fire Marshal Brett Lacey of deliberately keeping people out of the UCCS Gallogly Events Center, when Trump’s staff clearly didn’t plan the location to match demand. That’s par for the course for political rallies — make sure you pack the house. The unusual part: Blaming local fire officials for enforcing the laws meant to keep people safe.

“That’s why we’re going to hell, folks,” he told the crowd, who booed Lacey, a man who recently was named citizen of the year for his efforts during the Planned Parenthood shooting. “This is why our country doesn’t work. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing.”

Trump only had praise for a single person: himself.

He congratulated himself on his efforts at the Republican National Convention, saying he believed the stage was better than the Democrats’ — and boasted that he bested them in the Nielsen ratings.

“I liked the Republican convention better,” he said. “We had a far more beautiful set. There wasn’t even a contest. We beat them by millions. Our numbers were incredible. Isn’t it good to have Trump running for president?”

The crowd cheered.

Then Trump suggested something astonishing, even for him: Hillary Clinton should have congratulated him.

“I deserve a big, beautiful congratulations,” he said. “I’ve done something that no other candidate in the history of the Republican party has done. Wouldn’t it have been great if Hillary had said that? I deserved a congratulations.”

The crowd cheered.

 In a speech that was short on ideas and long on complaints, there was little new of substance to report.

He then explained his stance about “hitting someone” who spoke at the Democratic convention. It was clear, he said, that he meant verbally.

“It’s so dishonest — ay-ay-ay — why we have to deal with the dishonest media,” he said. “CNN: just a dishonest group of people.”

The crowd booed CNN.

Then, in a city that is home to Peterson Air Force Base and Space Command and whose soldiers and airmen are responsible for operating the Global Positioning System, Trump had a stunning suggestion.

“I don’t like email,” he said. “I like the old days, especially for the military. It’s called courier. Let’s not send it over to the wire. Let’s not use email or computers. The people in China, Russia are very good [hackers]. They’re better.”

He continued to provide a rambling discourse about a friend who builds plants in Mexico. (“Maybe I’ll have him build the wall.”) And talked at length about corruption in construction at both the United Nations and Aurora’s Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

In a speech that was short on ideas and long on complaints, there was little of substance to report.

Trump is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and he supports a “pay-to- play” philosophy in NATO — other nations pay the United States for military protection.

Service leadership? Putting others first? Not on Trump’s watch.

The overall atmosphere: negative and unsettling. “We’re a Third World nation,” he said, complaining that American airports aren’t the equal of other nations’ airports.

Trump apparently showed a different side to the Gazette’s editorial board, who wrote Saturday that he was thoughtful and sympathetic. That’s not his public face.

We’ve all seen his public face.

The Business Journal doesn’t endorse candidates in elections. We believe that people should make their own decisions based on the information in front of them.

But I keep thinking about the smile on Hasty’s face as he walked around his modest automobile shop — his obvious pride, his determination to serve even as he leads.

It definitely was a day of contrasts.