The Anatomy Of Trump's Stump Speech
There is an undeniable spectacle on display at a Donald Trump Rally. The feeling is equal parts bread and circus and playoff game. Right down to the music announcing Trump's arrival and the announcer welcoming the "next president of the United States."
But for the music and that announcement to be seen as fitting, for Trump’s allure to remain and not morph into just a political reality show, the Republican frontrunner has to do the following.
Step One: Get Butts in the Seats.
A full three hours before Donald Trump took the stage at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, there was a line, hundreds deep. Trump’s campaign has largely been built by getting new voters. And new doesn’t necessarily mean first time. Take Bonnie Dulin. She drove over from Mount Pleasant. And Dulin brought a friend. "My name is Darlene Mertz and I’m from Mount Pleasant too."
Both Dulin and Mertz are senior citizens, they’ve seen their share of politicians. Just not at a rally. "No, this is our first one," they say in unison, and then laugh.
They both identify as Republicans. As do most of Trump’s supporters. But getting people who don’t normally participate in rallies or primaries has been key to Trump’s victories so far and it’s a big reason the Republicans have seen record turnout in many states. In Concord, a few thousand turned up to greet Trump who beamed as he said "boy, on a Monday morning can you believe this, right?"
Step Two: Degrade Your Opposition.
In Concord, Trump only mentioned Democrat Hillary Clinton once, it was in reference to a poll.
Trump's verbal assault was squarely aimed at Republican Senator Ted Cruz. "You know, Ted Cruz comes in bible high, then he lies to you. It’s unbelievable." And, for Senator Marco Rubio, the "Little Marco" nickname was often uttered.
These insults can seem childish but they’re working. Just ask Jeb Bush who’s now a political spectator.
Step Three: Only I Can Save You.
Trump is fond of telling crowds politicians have stacked the deck against them. "We’re dealing with dirty, rotten liars. These politicians are liars." They’re "egg-headed idiots" is a common refrain. They’re in the pocket of lobyists is another. America, he tells the cheering crowd, is simply losing. Everything. "When was the last time we had a victory?" Trump asks rhetorically. Then he answers. "We lose with ISIS, we lose war, we lose with trade. We have lousy health care."
Who's the answer? That's easy. He is. "We’re going to have great trade deals. We’re going to bring jobs back to the country. We’re going to bring jobs back to North Carolina where they’ve been stripped." There isn’t a focus on how. Just this, it’s time to win again.
Step Four: A Show of Strength
"Oh, we have a protester, we have a protester." Trump alerts the crowd. And he's clearly happy to see that.
The crowd’s energy surges as Trump mocks them as if they were on a debate stage. "Go home to mommy. Bye. Go home to mommy." Again and again it’s repeated. "Oh, the protester just tripped. Oh, they’ll blame us. They’ll blame Trump!" Each time the crowd gets bolder, proudly pointing out those they suspect to security.
All of this is standard stuff for Trump. But there is a new element to his script.
Over the past week, Trump has started asking the crowd to raise their right hand and repeat after him, "I Swear I’m going to vote for Donald Trump next week."
This, too, is telling. Exit polls over the past week have shown voters who have decided late in other primaries are voting for Trump’s rivals. The pledge seems a way to solidify voting for Donald Trump into the minds of those assembled.