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Trump Rips Up Rule Book Of U.S. ‘Retail Politics’

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Trump Rips Up Rule Book Of U.S. ‘Retail Politics’


By Ginger Gibson

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Reuters) — U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump swung into New Hampshire for a few hours one evening earlier this month to pick up an endorsement from a small police union.

“I don’t normally do stops like this,” Trump said during his brief remarks, highlights of which featured heavily that night on cable television news. “But for you, I came.”

It was indeed unusual for Trump. While many of his rivals for the 2016 Republican nomination are devoting many hours to shaking hands with voters at diners and corner stores in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump is eschewing such traditional “retail politics” in favor of large, high-profile rallies and television appearances.

The jury is still out on whether the strategy will work. While Trump leads in polls of Republicans nationally, he is lagging behind Ted Cruz in Iowa, which kicks off the Republican nominating contest on Feb. 1 for the November 2016 election.

However, Trump is leading the polls in New Hampshire, which holds its primary election on Feb. 9 and he is proving the state may be winnable without spending too much time there.

Part of Trump’s unorthodox strategy includes making highly controversial statements that keep his name in the headlines, such as his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Trump dominated television coverage after using a vulgarity when speaking of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s election loss to President Barack Obama in 2008.

While many voters regard his comments as offensive, Trump’s supporters find his candor refreshing as he addresses crowds at large venues such as athletic centers after arriving in his private jet.

“Trump is an anomaly because of the overwhelming frustration voters have of Washington,” said Michael Dennehy, a New Hampshire Republican strategist who worked previously for Rick Perry’s presidential bid. “He simply is tapping into that and voters are overlooking the heavy retail component that Trump has not been able to engage in – partly because of his strong popularity and large crowds.”

In New Hampshire, Chris Christie is among the candidates who has followed the traditional model of retail politics most closely. While the large number of days he has logged in the state has driven the New Jersey governor higher in the polls in recent weeks, he has yet to catch up to Trump.


In a stark contrast to Trump’s quick stop in Portsmouth to pick up the endorsement of the New England Police Benevolent Association, Christie spends hours in coffee shops and has held numerous town halls where he fields questions on everything from Syria to healthcare to taxes.

Whereas Christie has spent more than 50 days in the state, Trump has spent fewer than 20, according to schedules and multiple outlets tracking the candidates whereabouts.

And while Trump continues to ride high in the polls despite his controversial statements, Christie, who has long been known for his brash, in-your-face personality, has toned down his style and works to show voters he can listen as well as talk.

“You are the most powerful voters in the world,” Christie told a recent town hall in the town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

Trump has appeared on the conservative cable outlet Fox News more than any other candidate. Between May and December 15, the liberal group Media Matters has logged 22 hours, 46 minutes and 40 second of airtime for Trump on Fox News. By comparison, Christie had only 9 hours, 51 minutes and 19 seconds.

Many of Trump’s visits to New Hampshire have involved television interviews or multi-candidate forums. The last town hall he held here was in September.

That is a departure from not only Christie’s campaigning strategy but also that of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich who are both working the Granite State’s town hall circuit.

Republican Marco Rubio, however, is starting to draw attention for his lack of time in New Hampshire. Christie, in fact, criticizes the U.S. senator from Florida for what he says is Rubio’s inattention to the state.

Retail politics has long served as the counter to big money in U.S. elections. The strategy has a long track record of success in early-voting states such as New Hampshire.

Republican Rick Santorum, considered a long-shot White House contender in 2012, pulled off an upset victory in Iowa by visiting all of its 99 counties. Santorum later lost the nomination to Mitt Romney.

In 2000 and 2008, John McCain traveled New Hampshire on his “Straight Talk Express” bus and coasted to victory in the state despite being outspent by rivals.

But Trump is betting that the lessons of past campaigns won’t necessarily hold true for his 2016 campaign.

His speech to the police union, for example, lasted less than 15 minutes as the union’s board voted to endorse him.

“There will be nothing that is more important to me than this night,” Trump said. “Thank you very much from your board and thank you very much.”

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail” (http://blogs.reuters.com/talesfromthetrail/)

(Editing by Caren Bohan and Alistair Bell)

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook



  1. RED December 24, 2015

    Each day day we got more & clearer evidence showing what fascist little pigs the “police” or thugs in blue have become. Trump’s entire campaign is built on racism, white nationalism, xenophobia, basically all the worst traits of society and the bottom feeding scum. And so this Police Benevolent Ass. looks at Trump and says yeah that’s for us, let’s make this in to a more fascist country, cause after all fascism isn’t too bad if you’re a violent thug on the fascist’s payroll.

  2. nana4gj December 24, 2015

    Trump lacks. He lacks the personal characteristics to interact with people, other than those very close to him in family and business at the managerial level. He does not touch people. He is not a warm and friendly person. I think he doesn’t even like most people. I think his money all of his life is what brought him “friends” and that he learned to use it for that purpose early in life.

    He lacks intelligence, formal or empirical knowledge to govern and he is too lazy to even read about current events to fill in the gaps. He gets his information from soundbites, rumor, gossip, and accounts that he can exploit for his own purposes. He is so narrow in his perspective, education, and expertise, that he has no insight into the complexities of running a government, a country, or world affairs and, because he lacks personal characteristics as well, he is simplistic in his “solutions” and everyone else is “stupid” because they cannot “close the deals” required through the use of the same methods he has used throughout his life: bravado, extortion, ego, money, and all that money can buy for him.

    He lacks any internal controls to behave in any way other than as his instincts and impulses command. He has no personal mechanism for self-censure, which is why he can never admit to having been in error; it’s always some one else who was wrong, deserving of his crude remarks, or, he never did anything wrong in the first place. Consequently, he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and he will never get better. The more he is perceived to be rewarded, the worse he will become. He may not even have a conscience. He lacks principles. He satisfies his own needs and is incapable of considering another’s needs.

    He lacks civility and manners. He lacks respect for others. His value system is based on the payoff to him, as if, all human relations are a business deal in which “success”, as he defines it, is measured on whether or not one was captured in war as a prisoner, lost an election but not a soul and character, is physically attractive and meets his standards of that, etc. They are shallow values, because, money and all money can buy for him, has defined him since birth, including “friends”. If you disagree with him, express disapproval of him, don’t like him or his behaviors, he targets you, as a bully targets, because he lacks objectivity, principles, and a conscience, as well as the character to consider he may need to improve himself.

    He lacks the ability to address the issues in which he would need to manage in a Presidency. In debates, and in his campaign appearances, he seems to brush them off as minor irritants that can be swiftly eliminated with his superb ability. Consequently, his focus is on the exhibition of his most serious flaws, the flaws that are symptoms of why he lacks in so many requirements for the performance of the job he aspires to. Those symptoms are so myriad and unmitigated, so overt, that they defy classification into one formal diagnosis in the DSM which sorts out diagnoses based on behavior. But I see elements of Sociopathic Disorder, Narcissistic Disorders, Manic, Bipolar, Antisocial, Compulsive, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Delusional Disorders, and Paranoia. One glaring exhibit is his disrespect for authority other than his own, and his very obvious maladaptive development of his ability to relate to the opposite sex, with more than one example.

    His last campaign appearance was all about the later, though he has exhibited it many times in the course of his life and this campaign. How “normal” is it for a man his age, in his position, to be obsessed with a woman’s use of the restroom during a break in the debate, that he would spend valuable time expressing his “disgust” at his imagery with this? Why would he obsess with this image he concocted? What place did his personal image of another’s personal, private, and normal function have in this political campaign? How does the fact that a political opponent, albeit a female one, used the restroom during a break, impact her credentials and her policies to govern as a President? What does any of it have to do with anything? It has to do with Trump’s mental health, that’s what. It is not a political issue for the country; it is Trump’s personal issue, his pathology.

    In the same breath, he used a Yiddish slang to vulgarize the fact that she lost an election to a man in 2008, as if she were victimized and a “loser”. This, too, has to do with Trump’s mental health. It would be simplistic to say that he is just a vulgar man, which he is; or that he is arrested at the pre-pubescent stage of male development, which he is; or that he is “macho”, which he is not. It is not anyone’s responsibility to figure what he meant. In the context of what terminology he used and how he used it, what he communicated is more considerable than what he meant. It’s more pathology and it’s Trump’s pathology. Now, he tells that opponent to “be careful” in how she interacts with him in this campaign. Only he is allowed to insult, degrade, abase, and defame, or else. She doesn’t have to do what he does. No one can top him on that score. Candidates seeking the nomination for President of the US either have solid records of past governance or solid knowledge of the issues with effective proposals on which to campaign, and, until and unless, Trump can rise to that standard, he had better “be careful”, himself. Besides, he exposes himself and he doesn’t even realize it.

    This political opponent lost nothing but a nomination; she did not lose her soul or her character. She was a winner, actually, the kind of winner who can be proud of her contest and gracious and constructive in her defeat of a political contest, which made her a Winner, not a “loser”, in the world according to Trump. It is something he, himself, should prepare for. But, he cannot. He does not have the intellectual, emotional, or practical skills and character, or mental health, with which to accept the possibility of defeat with the emotional maturity he should have at this time in his life.

    That being the case, he lacks the same qualities to be the victor and to fill the role of President of the US. Trump simply lacks.

  3. Bob Eddy December 25, 2015

    And for all his bluster he stagnates at around 30%. Is it because he is doing nothing but “preaching to the choir?” Is he still using paid shills? Why is it that all of His money, all of his notoriety, all of his bluster doesn’t seem to be moving the needle? And now a Poll shows that 50% of the people polled would be embarrassed if he were elected. If you thought Mitt had a tough go when, in his words “47% would not vote for him” imagine what it will be like when 50% wouldn’t vote for Trump. Well, Republican party, you chased away the moderates, you chased the sane, you chased away the “intellectuals” and now you, to paraphrase Dick Cheney you are about to go to war with the candidate you have and not the candidate you want. GOP, RIP!

  4. Otto Greif December 27, 2015

    Yet for some reason the campaign finance “reformers” aren’t praising his campaign.


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