The vocal plurality is the new silent majority. Donald Trump began his town hall Wednesday evening declaring to a cheering audience filling an 800 seat theater in Derry, New Hampshire, that the “silent majority is back”. Public polls show him leading the splintered field with a plurality rather than a majority, and his audience was not by any means silent, but his apt characterization of the “silent majority” fits.
Press Conference: Trump held a press conference just before the town hall, jousting with reporters for about 25 minutes on a variety of topics including immigration and the term “anchor baby”, Jeb Bush and a smorgasbord of other Republican candidates, the Iran nuclear deal, his personal health and Donald J. Trump. Trump, a New York tabloid staple for decades, displayed his skill in dealing with reporters as he criticized and occasionally complimented them while providing voluminous material. Here’s his full press conference:
“No more music! We want Trump!” The crowd grew restless as the show was delayed more than 30 minutes, rising in unison to cheer their hero when he finally arrived. Opening with a declaration that “the silent majority is back”, Trump spoke for about 50 minutes, responding to seven audience questions. Slamming Jeb Bush, with some Rubio, Walker and Clinton critiques, Trump ruminated on the state of the nation (bad), the American military (great, mistreated, going to be greater), Iraq (a Bush-created mess), Mexico (cunning leaders), the press (largely dishonest) and his own finances and candidate financial report (I’m sort of a bragger … spectacular … I did a great job). His audience appeared to greatly enjoy it, laughing and clapping with frequent shoutouts of support.
There was age but not racial diversity in the audience. It appeared to be entirely white, but with a decent percentage of teenagers and fairly young adults and a mix of ages above that. The audience appeared neither wealthy nor poor, instead looking like people just home from work. The vibe matched Trump’s “silent majority” comment, with a feeling of anger and frustration that someone else is getting the benefit of their own work. Paradoxically, Trump’s fortune and fame come from building homes and offices for those high-end takers; the Wall Street and business titans whose own fortunes grow out of this audience’s work and, sometimes, out of firing American workers in favor of increased automation or lower-cost foreign labor. Trump transcends the logic that would lead to associating him with those high-end takers, however, viscerally connecting with the anger and frustration of his audience. An experienced performer, Trump empathetically mined his audience connection, mixing in jokes and complaints.
In his April appearance at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Leadership Summit Trump entered and exited to the theme from his TV show Celebrity Apprentice, which begins with the words “Money Money Money Money Money.” In a mark of the evolution of his campaign, Trump exited this town hall to the sounds of Twisted Sister’s anthem We’re Not Gonna Take It.
Here’s the full town hall: