by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Hey, is it fun to be at a Trump rally?” the businessman asked an approving audience in Baltimore before Maryland’s primary. “Think this happens with lyin’ Ted Cruz?” These raucous events are part of what he’s talking about when he says he doesn’t want to get too presidential.
“I can tell if you if I go too presidential, people are going to get very bored,” Trump told Fox News in April, adding that he didn’t want his supporters to “fall asleep.”
Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, however, it’s worth asking if the rallies are doing more harm than good. …
… He has also begun to more frequently give prepared speeches, read directly from a teleprompter, in a subdued fashion with few ad-libs.
Yet Trump himself has admitted he can’t stay on-message for a whole rally. Too boring. He tends to use these speeches to friendly audiences to blow off steam and hit back at critics in politics and the media.
All that is why he revisited Saddam Hussein and the “Star of David” tweet on an evening where he was supposed to be pounding Clinton: He was lashing out at people who criticized him. It perplexes Republicans who have seen glimpses of Trump on-message.
Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., told the Washington Examiner’s Joel Gehrke that Trump “nailed” his meeting with 200 GOP House members, adding, “The bigger subtext was just, look, you’re winning over everyone in the room right here, you’re saying all the right things, this is a great meeting, and it was just like — can we count on you to stay on that narrative and keep nailing it like that.”
Trump’s meeting with Republican senators, which was at times contentious, suggests the answer might be no. But the rallies that helped him bond with supporters and flood the airwaves are now virtually guaranteed to produce headlines he’ll regret.