Speaking before thousands of upbeat supporters at the PNM’s final election campaign rally billed as Red Day at the Eddie Hart Grounds in Tacarigua, Manning said: “They have thrown everything they can at the political leader, but I’m still standing!”
At that he raised his arms as if to embrace the crowd, who responded with moderate applause. “I am asking for the opportunity to serve you for five more years,” he said.
Promising to develop the country and create thousands of new jobs, he said the UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition had failed to reply to his policy proposals. “We asked them, with what do you agree? They have no answers...All they know is that Manning must go. Even if they see God’s face, which I doubt, one thing I am sure they won’t see, is the departure of Manning”. As this the crowd gave a supportive burst of laughter.
He recalled that at the PNM Special Convention at Chaguaramas, eight weeks ago,
he had a low personal rating and many thought he was wrong to promise a general election, but seeing the massive crowd before him, Manning said he now feels vindicated. “Never before have I seen a gathering of political people as I see in the Eddie Hart Grounds this afternoon.” Supporters cheered.
He said it was the largest crowd he had ever seen in his 39 years in politics, claiming it was twice the size of the crowd at the People’s Partnership rally which was taking place at the Aranjuez Savannah. “I just can’t believe what I am seeing.”
He defended St Joseph candidate Kennedy Swaratsingh, saying the coalition’s campaign was characterised by “nastiness”.
“If Kennedy Swaratsingh is still a Roman Catholic priest, then he’s the first Roman Catholic priest who is married with two children,” Manning said as he defended his Public Administration Minister who had earlier received rapturous applause when presented to the crowd in the candidate line-up.
Manning then claimed the coalition would use dirty tricks to desecrate the Lord’s Day, Sunday, when he alleged they would visit constituencies to share out rum, cell-phones, Blackberries and jerseys to seek support.
“You know my advice? My advice: Make sure you line up to get some of that...” The crowd cheered loudly. “And get to the polling station and vote PNM”. Manning again made a special appeal for the votes of traditional UNC supporters whom he said had not done very well under the 1995 to 2000 UNC government, but over the years, had prospered under the PNM.
Manning urged youngsters to vote, saying it is not by accident that they are helped by schemes such as GATE, MUST, HYPE and OJT, which his party has said could be shut by a new coalition government. Mouthing the words of the PNM campaign song by Phelf, he said, “Young people I want to say to you, ‘We love you and that’s why we take good care of you’.”
Manning attacked the People’s Partnership saying it had no vision, plan or policy for TT. “So it’s going to be horse-trading and arguments,” he said, saying whoever in the coalition could shout the loudest, would get their way. He said coalitions are inherently unstable. “When a coalition breaks up, the biggest casualty is race relations,” he said.
Manning warned that however good her intentions, coalition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has surrounded herself with men who are “strangely-oriented” and in whose hands she would be a mere tool.