Several political analysis stories recently have suggested that Donald Trump has struggled to find a closing argument, but they seem to be using a definition for closing argument that’s far too narrow.
What they are trying to relay is the fact that Trump has failed to find a closer that will work in the more traditional sense of actually winning the race. But if you listen to Trump’s rallies and campaign appearances over the past couple weeks, he has definitely landed on a pitch to voters that can be summed up in a single two-letter word: Me.
In Macon, Georgia, on Friday, Trump invited his rally goers to play arm-chair psychologists as he bore his soul to them.
“Could you imagine if I lose?” he told them. “My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say, ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.’ I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”
It’s not the first time Trump has employed that inspiring “Can you imagine me losing?” schtick, and it likely won’t be the last. And by the by: Yes, yes we can imagine it. Thank you very much.
Trump is also peppering that vision of failure with a new round of pointedly personal grievances. On a campaign call Monday, Trump lit into one of his top pandemic experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, referring to him as a “disaster.”
“People are tired of COVID,” Trump said, plugging his campaign events as the “biggest rallies I’ve ever had” despite the pandemic. “People are saying, whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”
Naturally, Trump isn’t worried about infecting his faithful or even leaving a trail of death behind him. He wants his rallies, dammit, and everyone else better get out of the way.
Trump also dropped a bit of delightful bullying into a Monday stump speech in Arizona, focusing in on one of the NBC journalists who is supposed to moderate Thursday’s debate (which may well get canceled now that moderators can cut Trump’s mic). “Another great one—Kristen Welker. She’s a radical Democrat,” Trump told revelers in Arizona. “She’s been screaming questions at me for a long time. She’s no good.”
But Trump, just getting warmed up on his it’s-all-about-me riff, suddenly started waxing nostalgic about last week’s NBC town hall.
“How about the one who came up and said, I love your smile. You’re so handsome, you’re so handsome, you’re so handsome when you smile,” Trump said, recalling a voter who inexplicably prefaced her question with admiration for Trump’s winsome grin.
“Really, this woman liked me. I know when someone likes me,” Trump continued, before explaining that NBC executives must have gotten to her following the event because she ultimately said she planned to vote for Joe Biden.
“They told her, you can’t do that. You got to say bad things. I have no doubt, because I watched her interviewed afterwards,” Trump said. “She hated my guts. She was like… I’m gonna vote for Biden.”
Trump is the closing argument. It’s all about him, who likes him, who’s nice to him, who’s voting for him. It’s certainly not about voters’ ridiculous needs. And if they thought their observations mattered— they had better think again. Trump, and Trump alone will be the judge of what matters and what doesn’t. And just to be perfectly clear, voters don’t.
Watch Trump go off on Welker and then descend into a sea of self pity over the voter who turned against him:
don't threaten me with a good time pic.twitter.com/k46P6Hdj4a
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 19, 2020