Donald Trump is famous for plastering his name on everything he owns — his buildings, licensed products and, of course, his private jet.
It's part of building the Trump brand. It predates his presidential run by decades, but it is also central to his pitch to voters. Trump portrays himself as a savvy negotiator who "wins" all the time, and what better way to prove that than with a flashy private jet he has obtained thanks to his many wins? The above photo pretty perfectly sums up the image he wants to convey to voters.
It started with a flyby of the hangar facility where his rally in Dubuque, Iowa, was held on Saturday. To add to the theatrics, the Trump campaign played the theme music from the movie "Air Force One" over the public address system — a tactic clearly designed to implant a presidential image in the minds of those in attendance.
Donald Trump's personal jet dramatically landed at the Dubuque airport and pulled up to the rally: pic.twitter.com/ghgnvZetcv
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 30, 2016
Then, Trump pulled his jet right up to the hangar, parking it behind the lectern. He even offered to let local kids play on the plane after the rally.
It's an interesting strategy, because presidential contenders usually strive for ways to make themselves seem more accessible — from the clothes they wear to the retail stops they make at local establishments. Being visibly wealthy and hard to relate to has been a liability for presidential candidates in the recent past. Case in point: Mitt Romney.
So why is Trump still viewed as a populist candidate, when the image he projects to voters can be distilled down to: "Look how wealthy and successful I am"? Trump doesn't really glad-hand, although he usually signs autographs; he jets in for a quick speech, then leaves.
Trump makes no pretense about the large plane that carries him from New York to his various campaign stops. Maybe, in part, because a much bigger plane is waiting for whoever is sworn in as the next president.