Trump surrogates have been adamant about their “defense” (if you want to call it that) for the now… President-Elect Donald Trump. Before the election last night though, an interesting attack on hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Beyonce surfaced after the married duo performed at a Cleveland, Ohio rally for Hillary Clinton just days before the election. Many of the surrogates including Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, shamed Hillary for the choice of these artists and their lyrics saying, “because our children are listening” right Hillary?”. Scottie Nell Hughes continues this argument as well digging deep into the hard right Trump supporters identifying well with the evangelical-Christian audience as she slams Hillary’s choice of musical guests. She goes on to say, “As an Evangelical Christian, I can actually say I think he was more bothered by the multiple uses of the ‘M-F-word’ that night and the N-word that was used, within the lyrics in the songs” (speaking about Trump being bothered). While I find this highly tunnel-visioned and hypocritical, it is a hallmark example of rhetorical disassociation used for the past years and a half by Trump and his surrogates.By slamming Hillary for bringing in hip-hop artists who use expletives in their music and weeding out the fact that Trump himself has multiple videos of him using the exact same language shows that disassociation that doubles down on their Trump cause now and as he eventually becomes the 45th president..
What this does now that the election is over? Well, I can’t say for sure. It has alienated much of pop culture (for better or worse) with Trump openly mocking Clinton, boasting to a crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan on election day yesterday, “We don’t need Jay Z or Beyoncé… We don’t need Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t need Lady Gaga. All we need is great ideas to make America great again”. While this is identification, it’s identifying with those who conspire against the “liberal media”, “liberal Hollywood” and pop culture. He finds the common value of mostly an older generation who hates pop culture along with younger voters who might feel they are cool or on the “in-crowd” by associating with “great ideas” and “making America great again”.
If I had to guess his rhetoric will continue to divide America on extreme levels. Even if his rhetoric is tamed even a bit, what he has said over the past year has inflamed a scary movement built on fear, divisiveness and anger. That’s something that WON’T “make America great again” or keep the greatness that is the “united” part of our states here in America. What makes this a harder and harder pill to swallow is the real issues that are behind the rage and hate. The real people who have real issues and need desperate help have been hijacked rhetorically and this kind of polarization threatens much of the work our country has done over the past 100 years whether it’s women’s rights, race relations or LGBTQ rights to work for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL.
Once again drawing on the now famous answer to any question whether it’s appropriate, makes sense or not at all, Trump and his surrogates want to make America Great Again… I guess now we’ll find out what that means.
Trump, with the election approaching, has managed to lay lower after the initial October surprises that gripped the media for most of the past few weeks. Now the attention has been shifted to the Clinton Foundation with all of the Wikileaks that have been released. Trump’s campaign has used this as the perfect opportunity to shift the attention from Trump’s mistakes to Hillary’s, even though the stamp of what was released is not something that can really be erased. His daughter in law, Laura Trump, has been at the forefront in supporting Donald Trump and trying to combat all of the so called “false narratives” and trying to discredit Hillary.
With the end of the election coming, Laura Trump has tried to sway the female audience as she speaks out against Hillary in an interview with Breitbart News, stating that Hillary does not represent the women in this country and that it is a shame that she is the first woman presidential nominee to represent our country. Trump’s campaign is surely using this line of fire as a way to discredit Hillary on one of her biggest strength’s in this election, gender. Laura is trying to appeal to the female audience by stating that, “we are smart enough to not vote solely based on someone’s gender,” implying that that is the only reason to really vote for Hillary.
Overall, Trump has tried to appeal to the female population as much as possible in light of all of the events that came into play in October. This is exactly what his focus should have been on because he greatly needed more support of women voters, specifically white, middle class suburban women, whom Laura Trump tried to target in her interview. However, I don’t think Trump’s campaign held enough women supporters with strong influence and persuasion to promptly sway this particular crowd. I think in the election tomorrow there will be a strong female support of Hillary because of all of the events that took place in October, and because of Donald’s lack of ability to strongly reach these female voters.
With three days to go and early voting underway in most states – completed in some -, it appears that the Trump campaign has doubled down their efforts to make their candidate the center of attention. That being the case, it has become even more noticeable that Trump has seemingly called back his surrogates, leaving the remaining groundwork to be laid by his speeches, alone. Even so, those of the GOP’s surrogates still left campaigning have resorted to the last possible resort: relying on conspiracy claims and questions of Hillary’s basic humanity/morality as the foundation of their rhetoric.
Hillary Clinton as the Antichrist?
Recently, Trump surrogate Roger Stone went on The Alex Jones Show, agreeing with and further fanning the flames of the conspiracist theory extraordinaire that Clinton might be “a Manchurian candidate programmed by somebody.” The two men then went on to debate Clinton’s “multiple personalities,” fueling a discussion steeped deeply within the heaps of angry theories that have fed the hatred for Clinton that Trump supporters often relish in. As it stands, his surrogates seem to be continuing to to utilize the Challenger strategy of going on the offensive and attacking Clinton in any possible way.
Another tactic frequently utilized by Trump surrogates is that of false equivalency – that is, equating Clinton’s emails, essentially, with the vast and growing lists of Trump’s misdemeanors. Though some might qualify this as an important and unwavering tactic of fiery Challenger rhetoric, it has begun to act as an example of yelling loud enough so that one’s point seems legitimate. It seems to have gone beyond typical communication strategies at this point, and simply verges on desperation – as in, let’s see how far we can deceive a population trained to be skeptical of every fact presented to them to the point where they will actually negate any and all clear and documented evidence if it stands to act against their “morals.”
Regardless of the Challenger strategies Trump’s remaining surrogates continue to use in these last couple of days, it remains to be seen just how much these strategies will effect the actual outcome of the election.
With Election Day coming near, Trump surrogates are scrambling to do what they think is the best for identifying with potential voters and attempting to motivate voters to go to the polls. There is great diversity when looking at the two main strategies that different surrogates have put on in their attempt to reach voters, but they both will likely generate voters for Trump.
Shifting the Focus
In her most recent media appearance, Melania Trump stated that one of her big goals would be to work on the current state of social media and help create an atmosphere that is not riddled in bullying. If the campaign wants to help attract millennial voters, it needs to be forward-looking and also needs to heavily integrate social media into the talking points; Melania Trump has done just this. This job of talking about the issue of cyberbullying essentially had to be delegated to a surrogate, as Donald Trump has been accused of cyberbullying of his own and wants to avoid being called a hypocrite. With luck, this can help soften up the Trump campaign while helping it identify with a broader audience. I think that Melania’s attempts at identifying with voters and changing the nature of discourse about the Trump campaign will help pull some independents.
Wishing the Enemy Dead
Some Trump surrogates have seemingly gone way too far in advocating for the Trump campaign. One such surrogate, Wayne Allyn Root, even went as far as talking about Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin dying in a car crash during a Trump rally in Las Vegas. This was a clear use of persuasive communication, as he was trying to elicit a very specific response within the audience, which was clearly aimed at what he believed they wanted to hear. While it might be too late in the game for Trump to make such radical statements without losing swing states, he has done a great job of delegating the task of being rash to his surrogates. By doing so, he ensures that if it were to backfire, he could easily disassociate himself from the surrogate and claim Root was a surrogate gone rogue. I believe that this appeal will work to get the people who already support Trump heated and as a result, will push them to the polls on Election Day.
As Trump surrogates continue to stumble their way towards the election finish line, a recent debacle on a CNN panel perpetuates the head scratching by many as to why and what Trump surrogates are doing. If you scratch your head long enough and analyze what theses surrogates are doing in terms of a rhetorical situation focusing on identification and audience, the fog of confusion lifts (slightly) enough, and you are able to put yourselves in the shoes of the primary audience (if you don’t already accept the Trump worldview) and receive it through their lens.
As the Trump supporters in this interview are called out on live TV, we see a crumbling Trump surrogate base confused and scrambling to find anything to try and stick on Hillary. The primary audience (Trump supporters) for these surrogates agree that Trump is ahead and they will win in a landslide. John LaValle goes so far as to make up facts on the spot and is fact-checked live. When LaValle is called out for his inaccurate information, he turns and the whole panel becomes a childish yelling match. His reaction though was important to Trump fans…
Looking beneath the hood rhetorically of this yelling match is a challenge from LaValle against the CNN anchors. It fits a subliminal argument of a surrogate being able to say more specifics about how Trump is in the lead than Trump can. It also feeds into the rigged liberal media argument. His attempts to fight back is a more direct attack back at the media than Trump can do feeding the fire on that rigged election and media story. He looks like the hero for the Trump Republicans standing up to the “crooked” media firing back with claiming unchecked facts and Hillary’s e-mail issues (which nobody knows anything about fully). So again, while it might seem strange what Trump supporters like John LaValle are doing, they are continuing to double down on the Trump base with anything and everything. Sometimes even sporting the tinfoil hat for good measure.
A Surrogates role in a campaign is to help the Candidate be in multiple places at once, and spread the campaign’s reach across the country.If done correctly, they can maximize a candidate’s time.In this campaign, a surrogate seems to spend most of their time explaining what Trump had meant to say.Gaffes are a little nugget of goodness that the media and general public rightfully love.They are usually an unforced error that comes when you least expect them.Trump has set a high bar for his surrogates to live up to in the Gaffe department. However, his campaign surrogates did find a few moments to shine over the last year. Let’s take a look at a few of the gaffes that most surrogates would’ve prevented, but Trump’s crew swam in.
The Good:Ben Carson on The View
In March as a guest on The View, Host Joy Behar referenced an attack ad that Trump used in the Primary race comparing Carson to a child molester. Joy said Carson would have to call Trump a Liar unless he was ready to call himself a child molester.She followed it up by asking “Do you want a liar for the presidency?”
Instead of defending Trump, Carson replied, “Tell me a politician who doesn’t tell lies.” Which is arguably a true statement, but not the right time.
The Bad: Eric Trump defending his Father not releasing his Tax Return
Last month in an interview on CNBC Trump’s son, Eric, was defending his father’s decision to not release his tax returns by saying,”You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on something they know nothing about. It would be foolish to do.” As with most gaffes, this is probably a true statement. However, implying that most people aren’t smart enough to interpret Trump’s tax return turned out to be foolish.
The Awesome: Eric Trump’s Basket of Deplorables Tweet
Eric went to twitter to respond to Hillary Clinton calling half of Trump Supporters a Basket of Deplorables at a recent fundraiser. He tweeted out a photo of a totally packed arena, with the caption: “Look at the #BasketOfDeplorables in Pensacola Florida last night! What a horrible statement. #CrookedHillary”.Good job Eric!His father is often heard on the Stump accusing the “Bias Media” of never showing the size of the audience. Eric basked in the glory of a solid response Hillary’s comment.That is until Mark Cuban, an outspoken Hillary Surrogate and Owner of the arena in the picture chimed in and tweeted back,“I’m pretty sure that’s our arena in Dallas Eric. #Wrong Basket”.
Trump’s political campaign this election has forever changed the face of politics when it comes to what is standard and what is acceptable. His campaign has pushed the envelope in many different ways, but even more so with his surrogate speakers. A surrogate speaker in past times would be used as an avenue for saying things that were typically not acceptable for the presidential candidate to say. While taking that into consideration, there is still a part those speakers played in trying to maintain that candidates image. Their purpose is to support and enhance their candidates image. When it comes to Trump’s surrogate speakers however, there has been very little spoken in moderation and little put into self preservation. They have been extremely vocal about their thoughts and opinions and have done very little to hold back.
For example, recently when Donald Trump spoke at a rally, one of the rally speakers, Wayne Root appeared first and spoke about Hillary Clinton and how she should be put in the firing lane for committing treason. Even in elections past, you would not hear a surrogate speaker openly talk about how he thinks a candidate should be killed for committing treason. Trump and his speakers have constantly challenged the social norm of politics through stating things so off the wall that people don’t know how to respond.
Overall, Trump’s campaign strategy has drastically impacted the political world. He is not a typical politician nor has he conducted himself as one. His surrogate speakers, as a result, have followed in his footsteps. They have been bolder and more outspoken and gotten away with it because they are a part of Trump’s campaign. Overall, I think Trump’s boldness and political incorrectness, regardless of the outcome of this election will impact election campaigns to come and what our view of normal is when it comes to politics. He has held a campaign unlike any other and it will not go without impact in the political world. It has caused candidates to be pushed to have a more radical position in politics and has very little gray area.
With Hillary Clinton’s campaign now relying heavily on help from heavy-weight surrogates by the likes of the Obamas and Joe Biden – doing their best to capitalize on the incumbent advantage -, it appears that Trump’s campaign is actually reeling in their surrogate outreach on a number of fronts, seemingly deploying Trump to lead his rallies with very little introduction. Due to the negative media attention recently arising from the GOP frontrunner’s surrogate’s appearances on a variety of news casts and talkshows, one might actually be inclined to believe that this is probably the best possible route his campaign can take at this point.
Trouble with Women Across the Board
Recently, former US Speaker of the House and avid Trump supporter/surrogate, Newt Gingrich, made headlines for getting into a now-viral argument with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, claiming that she seemed “fascinated with sex” and didn’t “care about public policy.” In the wake of Gingrich’s statements, there has been a media storm decrying his statements, once again reinforcing the liberal media’s rhetoric on Trump’s campaign being very essentially anti-woman.
Though Trump and his higher-up campaign managers have since come out in support of Gingrich, praising his criticism of Kelly and defending his statements, many viewed this latest misstep by a Trump surrogate as yet another straw to contribute to the continual breakage of the camel’s back – should one actually be cognizant that the camel exists, mind you. However, should one be completely unaware of the existance of said camel, one might be able to interpret Trump’s defense of his surrogates as simply extending one of his most commonly-used Challenger strategies, taking an offensive position on the issues, to function as his campaign’s greatest – and, perhaps, only – consistency: an effectively unyielding offensive take on life demonstrating that he is, in fact, the most capable enforcer of political stuffs and things that the American public has available at the moment.
The Delicate Task of Deligation
Due to the fact that Trump has thusfar foregone the typical delegation of harsh attacks on his opponent and all those in her camp to surrogates, another common Challenger strategy, it will be interesting to see how he utilizes his remaining surrogates in the days leading up to the election. Because of the fact that they’ve seemed to do more harm than good throughout the course of this brutal election cycle, it may actually be smart for Trump to reel in his surrogates and simply stay the course on his own.
All of this simply remains to be seen in the coming days.
Donald Trump’s surrogate speakers have been put in an awkward situation over the past few weeks as he has begun to assert that the election is rigged against him, slowly turning his election bid into little more than a daytime soap opera. It seems as if he has finally come to terms with the fact that he may lose the election; rather than delegating the task of making an absurd statement to his surrogates, he decided to exclaim that the election was rigged on his own. Many of his surrogates have jumped on the rigged election train alongside him, but many other important Republicans have denounced the notion of a rigged election; if influential Republicans continue to support Trump while he rambles on about rigging and conspiracy, it is likely that it will do some legitimate damage to their political career in the future.
Conspiracy pushing away surrogates
This creation of a heated conspiracy fits nicely into the framework of the paranoid style that has perpetuated itself over time among right-wing politicians, but not everyone is buying in. Utah’s Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox was one of the Republicans who has disagreed with Trump and his allegations of a rigged election; “it’s irresponsible and it’s ignorant at best,” Cox recently stated. Trump has stepped up to the plate to try and belittle the opinions of his former surrogates and supporters, however, even going as far as posting a tweet calling them naive. This has led to great pushback against Trump on behalf of former surrogates and will continue to lead to a fracturing of the GOP.
Some surrogates still holding on
Though Trump has seemingly lost a good number of his surrogates, there are a loyal few, namely Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, who have come out with extreme claims that dead people are voting and that the media has rigged the election against Trump. Even strong surrogates, such as Trump’s running-mate Mike Pence, have begun to use dissociation to refine Trump’s accusations of a rigged election into something less extreme: a claim that the election results will be accepted even if viewed as unfair. Giuliani, Gingrich, and Pence have all put themselves into a position that will cause them distress in future elections, when more stock Republican candidates come into play and they were the people who supported the rogue Republican until the very end.