Donald Trump doesn’t move.  We’re not talking ideologically or politically, but physically.  A combination of arm movements, facial expressions and an occasional shrug keep a viewer visually occupied, but Donald Trump is a remarkably motionless speaker.  Most candidates roam their stage, looking deep into the corners of the room or moving up close to audience members to listen or to emphasize a point.   Not Trump.  He stays rooted in a single spot, rarely moving with his feet fixed to the floor.

At his own rallies Trump speaks from a lectern with a fixed microphone, rarely venturing away.  That’s his choice – he could of course be outfitted with a handheld mic or a lavalier mic clipped to his jacket or tie.  On Saturday Trump appeared at Scott Brown’s “No BS Backyard BBQ” series, held that day indoors at a car dealership.  There was a modest sized stage, sans lectern, and Trump used a handheld wireless mic.  We’ve condensed 10 minutes of his speech into a 30 second clip – watch it below.

Is it a sign of confidence, steadily staying put as hundreds or thousands of people sit and watch him?  Is it a sign of insecurity, afraid to move under the glare of the lights and his audience?  I have no idea, but it is a fascinating small element of Trump’s performance.

Here’s a 10 minute clip from his Portsmouth, NH speech, run at high speed in a 30 second clip:

Note:  The clip is available at normal speed here, beginning at 3:00 in the full speech video.


Trump - Portsmouth, NH 1-16-16Concerned about “liftoff” for his plane as snow fell outside, Donald Trump never quite took off during a New Hampshire appearance Saturday.  Speaking at Scott Brown’s “No BS Backyard BBQ”, Trump meandered through a slightly shortened version of his typical remarks and answered audience questions.  His audience was supportive, but not nearly as vocal or demonstrative as his typical rally audience and Trump seemed less energetic than usual.  Held in a Portsmouth car dealer’s showroom, the event drew approximately 700 people.  (The space was full, but without any overflow.)

Trump - Portsmouth, NH 1-16-16

Trump superlatives began as he walked onstage, declaring that “we don’t have snow like this in New York” as about 3 inches accumulated outside.  He expressed concern about “lifting off” afterwards, saying “we’ll make it quick.” Continue reading Liftoff

Trump On Cruz

“Am I the only person that thinks he’s a nice guy?”  That was Donald Trump Saturday describing his previous view of Ted Cruz.  Trump clearly no longer holds that view, as shown in his lengthy critique of Cruz.

Trump attacked Cruz on the recent report that Cruz failed to report to the FEC personal loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank which Cruz used to finance his 2012 senate campaign.   He also attacked Cruz over his recent “New York values” comment.   Trump gave a rambling recounting of New York’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks as an illustration of the emptiness of Cruz’s crack.

Here’s Trump discussing Ted Cruz:

Bush On Trump

“Narcissism, a sociopath.”  That was how a Jeb Bush town hall questioner characterized Donald Trump Friday night.  Bush gave an extended answer, with some compliments of Trump while dismissing him as utterly unprepared to be commander-in-chief.

Saying “[t]his is the point in time where I feel compelled to say something nice about Donald Trump”, Bush called him “a talent … gifted” in respect of his communication ability and also, somewhat awkwardly, lauded him for his financial success.  Bush then moved on to less a complimentary assessment,  describing Trump’s unfamiliarity with the nuclear triad as “scary.”

Double Barrel Cruz

Cruz - Londonderry, NH 1-12-16Ted Cruz fired away at his political enemies, both elected and hypothetical, in a pair of New Hampshire appearances Tuesday.  At a “Second Amendment rally” in Hudson and a town hall in Londonderry Cruz spoke harshly about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton while reverently characterizing gun rights as foundational to America’s continued existence.

“The real reason for the Second Amendment to our Constitution is to make sure that the People have the arms and the wherewithal to defeat an ever-encroaching tyrannical government.”  Those are the words of one of Cruz’s introductory speakers and it succinctly captures the Cruz view of gun rights and the state of the Republic.  Hunting and even self-protection against criminals are important, but the Second Amendment and the unfettered right to own and use guns is most vitally a “check on tyranny” said Cruz.  It’s a centerpiece of Cruz’s worldview, revolving around the notion that a tyrannical, or at least aspiring-to-be tyrannical, government is actively working to encroach its citizens’ liberty in a multitude of ways.

Continue reading Double Barrel Cruz

Cruz, Interrupted

IMG_5897Ted Cruz’s 2nd Amendment rally Tuesday in Hudson, New Hampshire began on a discordant note as two men separately interrupted the beginning of his remarks.  Cruz was as surprised as the rest of the crowd, not initially realizing what was going on but keeping cool as he figured it out.


As Cruz declared “it’s a beautiful day in New Hampshire” a man walked up the steps and joined Cruz, looking for all the world like he belonged there.   Cruz stood, listening as the man thanked the crowd and announced that he was from “Arm America.”  What seemed perhaps off-script but okay suddenly veered off as the intruder asked “[w]hat made everyone so weird and sad that they had to come out here?”  As the man then asked “[w]hy is everyone so excited about guns?  [t]hey kill people” his ruse became apparent and Cruz moved to get him off the stage.   A second, less successful, attempt at interruption came a moment later.

Here’s how it went:

Cruz Press Q&A

IMG_5896Eleven minutes, three questions.  That’s the numerical recap of Senator Ted Cruz’s post-rally press gaggle Tuesday in Hudson, New Hampshire.  Two of the three questions involved Donald Trump; what is Trump up to in pushing on Cruz’s “eligibility to run” and why, despite polls consistently showing Trump as New Hampshire voters top choice, Cruz regards himself as the better choice.  The final question concerned Cruz’s absence from President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Cruz began with an opening statement reiterating his pro-gun rights positions and touting “conservatives uniting behind our campaign” and “the old Reagan coalition coming back together.”  His response on Trump’s motivation in pushing the issue of Cruz’s constitutional eligibility to be president began with a somewhat forced laugh and “I like Donald.”  He dismissed the legal question of his eligibility and attributed the focus on it on his rising prospects.   Although saying that he won’t attack his competitors Cruz characterized as “more than a little strange” Trump’s citing of a “liberal leftwing judicial activist Harvard Law professor who is a huge Hillary supporter” in his questioning of Cruz’s eligibility.

On his New Hampshire prospects he spoke positively of his chances, said that he’s been engaged in New Hampshire and then launched into attacks on his competitors as “campaign conservatives” who failed to act against Obamacare or join the “fight against amnesty” for illegal immigrants.  The final question produced a lengthy denunciation of President Obama, with Cruz dismissing the likelihood of any value in Obama’s speech.  He notably included complaints about the betterment of “billionaires … and the top 1%” during the Obama administration.

Video:  Here is Cruz’s full gaggle:

36 Hours In Campaign Country

This small rugged state teeming with presidential aspirants offers visitors unique proximity to question, praise, berate or hug the next American president.


The presidential campaign has been running in high gear for months, but New Yorkers see it only from afar.  Candidate visits to New York are almost entirely out of public view, primarily for fundraising and TV appearances.  New Yorkers hoping to see candidates in person can visit campaign country, however, with New Hampshire the closest corner of campaign country and just a short drive away.

Sunday 8:15 a.m. – On The Road

Meet a fellow reporter just north of New York City and drive through western Connecticut north into Massachusetts.  Watch for the plentiful state troopers on I-91.  Don’t let the genius political arguments bandied about distract you from the speedometer.

Sunday 11:00 a.m. – Your New Friend Irving

A stop awaits before the first campaign event – a visit to an Irving, the ubiquitous gas station/convenience store.  Gourmet it’s not, but Irving offers a quick, clean stop for hot coffee, cold seltzer and a cellophane wrapped sandwich.  With lots of driving between five events efficiency is a key to success.  Pro-tip: Always get two sandwiches, one for now, one to tuck in your bag for a pre-candidate town hall boost.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. – Dr. Ben Carson

Keene State College is dead quiet on a Sunday morning, notwithstanding an imminent presidential candidate appearance.  With Secret Service protection and security screenings for Carson, entering his town hall is a lengthier process.  About 30 minutes ahead of his town hall, only 30 or so people are in the auditorium.  “Don’t worry, they’ll be here after church” says an early arrival and indeed a crowd of 200+ materialized by 1:00.  Chatting with attendees it appears that his audience is significantly centered around faith, both their own and Carson’s.

Carson - Keene, NH 12-20-15

Continue reading 36 Hours In Campaign Country

Democratic Field Ops

Claremont, NH 1-5-16It’s not just Trump land.  Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have field offices in downtown Claremont, New Hampshire, which I happened upon ahead of Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday evening.  Both storefront offices were quiet during my mid-afternoon visits, with three people working in the Sanders office and one in the Clinton office.   I received a friendly, if slightly wary, reception in both.  Sanders had the better art, with some eye-catching candidate-worship pieces while Clinton featured a life-size candidate photo/cutout.  Clinton also had a donation basket for a local food bank.  I didn’t see any other candidate offices in town.

Here are a few photo’s from each:



Our photo gallery is here.

Trump Q&A

“Just shout ’em out” –  that was Donald Trump as he took questions during a recent New Hampshire rally.

Trump rallies are generally all-Trump, with the candidate speaking at length without taking questions.  He departed from that practice Tuesday night, inviting audience members to shout out questions.  They joined in, with questions ranging from the conclusory (whether he’s “willing to lower standards like Hillary Clinton” in order to have women serve in the Army and Marine Corps infantry), to basic fact inquiries (is he “pro-life”, does he support term limits, is he in favor of medical marijuana, whether he “believe[s] in equal pay for women”), to campaign sloganesque (“when are we going to take our country back?”).

Here’s his full audience Q&A:

Trump Talks Trump

Donald Trump’s New Hampshire rally Tuesday night featured lots of discussion of … Donald Trump.

Candidates vary in how much talk about themselves, but it’s certainly an important part of their presentation to voters as they introduce and seek to distinguish themselves in this crowded field.  Donald Trump does it with a particular gusto, displaying a high self-regard as  he touts his standing in public polls and his brainpower and lauds his audience and supporters.  Often funny in his comments, his candidacy is essentially about his self-described ability to fix what he sees as wrong with America through force of personality.

Here are selected excerpts of Trump discussing Trump: