There were more than a few people — okay, professional political observers, reporters, consultants, candidates and the like — who both expected Donald Trump to lose Monday's Iowa caucuses and for this outcome to leave the candidate all but unhinged once he took possession of a live microphone.
Only providence, it seemed, knew what might come out of his mouth about Iowa, Iowa voters or its caucus process if Iowans did not hand him the victory Trump seemed to generally feel that he deserved. Steam might come out of Trump's ears. That was pretty much the talk about what might happen if Trump did not win Iowa.
And it wasn't unfounded, given that Trump lashed out at Iowa voters when his poll numbers momentarily took a turn for the worse there. He even retweeted someone who suggested Iowans had been brain-damaged by "too much Monsanto in the corn."
And yet, after taking the second place his detractors had hoped for, he came onstage to concede with a kind of barely contained grimace on his face. What followed was one of the most atypical, un-Trump speeches of his entire eight-month old campaign.
Yes, the campaign characterized almost from its very beginning by most unusual to unabashedly offensive comments went with something conventional, something totally politician-like when Trump conceded in Iowa on Monday night.
We pulled a few choice quotes from his brief speech. Check them out for yourself below.
See what we mean? These quotes are Trumpy, but not overly so. There was almost no bombast.
He didn't excoriate anyone or even assign himself any particularly grand praise. He offered a pretty standard mixture of public graciousness toward the candidate who beat him, Ted Cruz, as well as others who competed against him in some ego-preserving efforts to minimize the import of this loss. In fact, Trump used the royal "we" just like most politicians, in reference to both himself and his campaign. And he tried to turn his supporters' attention to the next primary contests in New Hampshire — where he has a solid lead in the polls — and South Carolina.
Now, there was one flash of the Trump seen most often on the campaign trail. Trump couldn't resist suggesting that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton perhaps has "bigger problems" than the nomination fight with Bernie Sanders. Trump went no further, making no effort to specify if that was a reference to Clinton's marriage, her emails or something else entirely. And, in that way, Trump managed to just briefly seed a bit of competition-damaging suspicion into an otherwise standard concession speech. And it does, of course, make sense that just after planting a little reason for doubt, Trump made the third and final comment listed (in part) up above.
He declared that he would win the nomination and beat whoever the Democrats put up against him. But alas, this was one brief section of a pretty brief speech.
Trump, essentially did not behave like the candidate we have all come to know and expect. Perhaps this is what Trump does and says when he has been humbled. We can't say for sure, since this might be the first time that has happened.