April 12, 2016
I tuned into the latest in an endless series of presidential town hall “events” with practiced disinterest and some amount of scorn. CNN is doing a three day run of GOP candidates with their families. John Kasich was on yesterday, Ted Cruz is up tomorrow.
I’m embarrassed to say I managed to catch almost every “town hall” for the first several months of the campaign. I’ve seen every damn debate, most in real time. Again, I say this with regret, not pride. A few weeks ago, I started missing a few of these manufactured events, mostly because I couldn’t keep track of them.
Kasich wasn’t close enough in the polls for me to remember to tune in last night. I’m sorta curious to see the Ted & Heidi Show tomorrow, but it’s Kobe’s last game, the Warriors are going for 73, and I’ll be enjoying steaks and scotch with a few friends.
If I’d had something beyond starting to prepare my Democratic debate preview pieces for Thursday on the agenda, or the TV in my office wasn’t already on CNN, I wouldn’t have watched the Trump Family Hour either. Having over watched election coverage for months now, I’m safely beyond my recommended dose of The Donald.
For the first several minutes, it was just Trump and Anderson Cooper, one on one on stage. Anderson pressed him on the current delegate acquisition scrum, he responded with a pile of Trumpisms. No insult intended to any of his millions of admirers, but if I never hear one of his greatest verbal hits again, that’s more than ok.
Extreme repetition is a big part of his success, but if you aren’t an acolyte and have already heard the act 1,000 times…..
Right when I was ready to see if any lobotomy providers have good Yelp ratings, CNN went to commercial. When they returned, the rest of the Trump clan was on stage. They’re his not-so-secret weapon. They’re also the only way to keep him silent.
Melania, Ivanka, Eric, Don Jr., and Tiffany (his daughter with Marla Maples), were primed and ready to go. Cooper asked them a few questions and then turned things over to the audience. For the next 20 minutes or so, The Donald sat there with evident pride as his children and wife made a better case for him than he does.
Because he’s Trump, after about 20 minutes his expression changed. That’s a long time for him to stay silent. I’m sure he enjoyed the final segment, his family is tremendously skilled at advocating for him, but again, a long time for him to just sit there.
Ben Carson is a comically bad surrogate. If you’re bored, Google “Ben Carson Trump surrogate” and get treated to a bunch of clips where you wonder if Ted Cruz is paying him. This is the opposite. It works on multiple levels.
We’re trained to judge people by how their adult children turn out. His turned out great. Even for kids not born into wealth and privilege they seem grounded and articulate, and nobody has a bad word to say about any of them. But they were. That makes them remarkable.
Even for those of us who are sick of all things Trump and question (or dread) a Trump nomination/presidency, it’s hard to look at his family and listen to them talk about him without thinking at a minimum he’s a damn good dad. His kids aren’t faking. They really do look up to him.
The problem with Trump as a messenger is he only has one delivery. For his fans it’s great, but there are others who agree with some/many of his positions, but can’t stand the approach, or at least are uncomfortable with it. The family solves this by bragging about him in different words and with different tones than he uses.
If Trump can repeat this show a few times between now and the final primary votes on June 7, it will help him get to 1237 delegates, or at least close enough to strike a few deals and win on the first ballot in Cleveland.
Thirty five percent of GOP primary voters love Trump. A similar number hate him. Those in the middle will heavily influence how this turns out. For voters who were leaning his way but have doubts, or for those who don’t like him, but can’t stand Cruz either, this helps.
His kids and wife are polished, confident, and appear very comfortable in front of the camera. If he can manage to give us a bit less of him and a lot more of them, The Donald might yet get his nomination without a protracted convention battle.