What Republicans like about Trump

September 15, 2015

Ask any Trump supporter why the blond-bouffanted businessman is the best and you’ll get pretty much the same answer: He’s speaking his mind, saying what other candidates are afraid to say.

Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

There’s the hair: Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

That doesn’t mean he’s pledging with all his heart to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation, popularly known as Obamacare. Everybody does that. It also doesn’t refer to the host of other issues on which Trump and the other candidates in the Republican field are aligned, like the importance of fighting terrorism or the need to take better care of military veterans. Much of what Trump says on these topics, while they may still be applause lines in his hour-plus rally speeches, is vague and not different from his competitors.

The difference between the Republican front-runner and the rest of the pack rests, from a policy perspective, is on the things he has to say about immigration. In Dallas on Monday evening Trump told almost 20,000 roaring fans that the U.S. was a “dumping ground for the rest of the world.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump interacts with attendees following his rally in Dallas, Texas, September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Stone

If applause is the metric, the Dallas crowd came for that. They never cheered louder than when Trump said illegal immigration was a “massive problem and “we have to build a wall, folks.”

But anyone coming to see Trump these days is going to get a few other staples that can’t be found at a rally for any of his competitors. These other ingredients are almost as important as the immigration lines to Trump’s overall aura, but they’ve got far less to do with policy.

Always mentioned, for example: Trump’s hair.

He has recently been appearing in places where the audience surrounds him on all sides, which means a quarter of the crowd sits for most of his speech staring at the back of his head. In Dallas about a third of the way through his speech he turned to the “behind” section and, grinning, asked them whether they now believed the sculptural comb-over to be real. “It’s really my hair!”

Another Trump stump staple: The unnamed lobbyist who “last week” offered him $5 million, which he turned down. “I feel a little bit awkward, a little stupid,” he told the crowd in Dallas, describing having turned down a political donation so as to remain unbeholden to special interests. He said almost the same thing at a press conference on New York on Sept. 3, almost two weeks ago.

And then there’s the fun part, the cheers and jeers. People he loves, people who are terrific and people who are terrible. “I love Mexicans!” He cried on Monday. “I like Carly and I like Ben and I like many of the people I’m running against,” he said, referring to fellow candidates Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

Republican strategist Karl Rove was not so lucky on Monday: “I think the guy is a total incompetent jerk.” Neither was Secretary of State John Kerry: “What a schmuck!”

And finally, the magic ingredient in Trump’s stump speech: Wild, jubilant, triumphalism, worked to a lather as he ticks off poll numbers in which he is leading and climaxing in: “We’re are really killing it! We are KILLING IT!”

2 comments

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That’s what makes US elections so much fun. There are always those gun-toting and Russia-viewing Sarah Palins, weird guitar-players, and orange-bouffoned millionaires that entertain the crowds, but in the end they never get elected anyway. But who could ever forget Michael Dukakis on top of the tank?

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

There is probably a good chance Donald Trump will not get the nomination for President of the United States but PLEASE not another BUSH… We’ve seen enough of them for a lifetime !!

Posted by edman222 | Report as abusive