Donald Trump took his front-running bid for the Republican presidential nomination to Dallas on Monday night for (yet another) big rally as his supporters packed into American Airlines Arena.
Trump's speeches are notoriously meandering -- as though he's just sort of making it up as he goes. (Breaking news: He is.) That tendency makes it tough to describe the Trump speech-giving experience to people unless they watched the address live.
But transcribing Trump's speeches -- when it gets done -- suggests that Trump's messaging, such as it is, might need some refining if he is going to remain the Republican front-runner all the way into 2016. Matt Walsh, a conservative blogger, did the yeoman's work of transcribing the first few minutes of Trump's Dallas speech. Check it out.
Wow. Amazing. Amazing, thank you. So exciting. Do you notice what's missing tonight? Teleprompters! [APPLAUSE] No teleprompters. We don't want teleprompters. That would be so much easier: We read a speech for 45 minutes, everybody falls asleep listening to the same old stuff, the same old lies. So much easier. So, you know, I have a little debate coming up on Wednesday. [APPLAUSE] I hear my... let's call them opponents. Can I call them opponents? We're allowed to do that, right? You know, New York was very nice to you people last night, you know that, right? [LAUGHTER] Did they hand you that game? [APPLAUSE] They handed it! I said, I am going to have the friendliest audience -- sit down -- I am going to have the friendliest audience. So I wasn't sure, was I happy or was I sad? But Jerry Jones is a great guy, and he deserves everything he gets, frankly. [APPLAUSE] And you know, another great guy is Mark Cuban. [APPLAUSE] And I think, you know, he's been talking about maybe doing this himself. And I think he'd do a great job. We don't have the exact same feelings about where we're going, but that's okay. But Mark was great. You know, he called me, like, literally a few days ago, and he said, "You know, if you want to use the arena" -- which by the way is a beautiful arena [APPLAUSE] this a great arena -- and Dirk is a fantastic player [APPLAUSE] he's just a wonderful player -- and the Mavericks have been fantastic and it's just a great team -- but he said, "You know, if you want to use the arena." And I said, "Mark, when?" He said "How 'bout Monday night?" It's like, that was like in four days. And you had a big holiday in between. And he said, "They really like you in Dallas, they really like you in Texas, maybe you can get a lot of people." [APPLAUSE] Because we were coming here, and we thought maybe we'd get a thousand people, but we never get a thousand anymore, it's always, like, the same thing. You know, we went to Alabama. We started off with a 500-person ballroom. And after about two minutes -- look at all these guys -- paparazzi, look at this [LAUGHTER] we've got everybody here. We started off, by the way, with a 500-person ballroom, and after about two minutes the hotel called up begging for mercy. "We can't do it!" They were inundated, so we went to the convention center, and that was 10,000 and that was wiped out in about an hour. So we went to a stadium, we had 31,000 people, which is by far the largest, they say, like, ever, for an early primary, and that's probably true.[APPLAUSE]
Trump starts off with a now-regular attack on how all politicians -- except him -- give the same "boring" speech over and over again using a teleprompter. Then, somehow, he gets into the Cowboys-Giants game on Sunday night, how great a guy Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is and how great a guy Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is. (Cuban is a Trump fan and has nicely boiled down The Donald's appeal to voters.) His friendship with Cuban segues into a riff on how many people come to Trump's rallies and a regaling of the Texas crowd about what a big crowd he had in Alabama last month. (The estimated crowd at that rally was 30,000 people.)
There are two amazing things about the opening of Trump's Dallas speech. The first one is how it's quite clear that Trump is just riffing about whatever comes into his mind. The second is how people seem to eat it up. Thanks to Walsh, you can see how often Trump is interrupted for applause and/or laughter. It's A LOT -- particularly given that Trump isn't doing much other than tooting his own horn and talking about all the people he knows.
This is the fascinating conundrum of Donald Trump. If you read his words, there's not a whole heck of a lot of there there; he just seems to say whatever comes into his mind that paints him as a powerful guy who knows everyone and who everyone likes or, at a minimum, wants to be. And yet people -- or at least a subset of them within the Republican party -- respond to Trump in a way not dissimilar to how many Democrats responded to Barack Obama back in 2007.
Trump is not just liked but revered by many people who attend his rallies and say they plan to vote for him. What they revere him for is far less clear given that his speeches are pieces of rhetoric so loosely dependent on specifics that they float away like dust in the wind as soon as he finishes delivering them.