Political rallies are usually raucous events. That’s just what happens when you bring thousands of like-minded voters together in a theater. Or an arena.
But Donald Trump’s rallies have noticeably been the most rowdy. His events have attracted supporters and protesters in droves, each group as passionate as the other. And Trump himself is the showman-in-chief, using his own brand of stagecraft to fire up his supporters.
Now, he’s even embracing the role of the “anger” candidate – anger about the issues, to be sure, but also anger toward the Obama administration that his supporters share.
Trump is a master of crowd manipulation. His strategy for dealing with hecklers is one good example. His rhetoric, and more specifically his speaking style, is another. Trump, as Fix contributor Barton Swaim wrote a while back, has a habit of punctuating each argument with short, declarative sentences. And then he often repeats them.
He’ll launch into a rant about a particular issue — say, immigration and then conclude by repeating himself: “I want security for this country, okay? I want security.”
American voters are already familiar with short catchphrases; President Obama’s slogan, “Yes we can,” was plastered all over posters, buses, yard signs and bumper stickers in 2008. And they go back much farther than that; “All the way with LBJ” was Lyndon Johnson’s campaign slogan, while Dwight D. Eisenhower had one of the most famous of all: “I like Ike.”
But Trump doesn’t use those short phrases on posters or bumper stickers, or in television ads (he’s only run two so far). He peppers them throughout his speeches, using them to drive home important points and cut through the applause, or perhaps sustain it.
It was on display at Thursday’s GOP debate in Charleston, like in his attack on the New York Times (“That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s The New York Times, they’re always wrong. They were wrong.”), and it is regularly a feature of his stump speeches on the campaign trail.
Those moments aren’t as memorable as the use of a catchphrase like “Yes we can,” but it’s a safe bet that Trump’s use of repetition helps drive home his talking points. And anyways, he already has a catchphrase — one he’d most like to direct at President Obama: “You’re fired.”