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Trump: The Exception to the Rule

Posted: January 21, 2016 | By: Samuel McKinney Tagged: From the Campaign Trail
Donald Trump talks to his supporter. (photo by Jingting Huang)

Donald Trump talks to his supporters. (photo by Jingting Huang)

As a presidential candidate, it is incredibly important for one to know their audience and how to articulate their own values and goals in the context of the event that they are speaking at. This is not to say that a candidate is expected to merely say what any given audience wants to hear, but they need to find an eloquent way of tying the issues that the audience cares about into their own platform.

On Tuesday, January 19th, the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit was held in Altoona, where several Republican Candidates, among numerous other speakers, had the chance to address the importance of renewable fuel sources to the several hundred in attendance. One particular speaker that stuck out was Donald Trump.

Donald Trump had the opportunity to speak considerably longer than the other candidates scheduled at the event. Trump’s speech was preceded by a showing of several videos made by local high-school students that detailed the process behind creating ethanol and the importance of that fuel. After the grand prizewinner received her award, it was Trump’s turn to address the crowd.

Surprisingly, Trump made no mention of this impressive feat of a high school student. In addition, only 10 of the 30 minutes of his speech were dedicated to the topic at hand, renewable fuels. Over the course of those 10 minutes his eyes were glued downward to his talking points, relying heavily upon generalized comments about the benefits of ethanol. He did not hit a comfortable stride until he finished his strained discussion of renewable fuels. For the remainder of his speech, he spoke on several of the points at the heart of his platform, particularly focusing on the fact that he has self-funded his own campaign and of course having Mexico build his wall.

While my classmates and I found it odd that Trump was not spending his speech focusing on the subject of the Summit, the majority of the crowd was notably engaged by his speech.

Finally, those that organized the event seemed to underestimate the pull of Donald Trump as a speaker. After his speech, which landed about halfway through the itinerary for the Summit that day, at least half of the audience began to file out while a roundtable of several CEO’s of renewable fuel companies made their way to the stage. One would think that those organizing the event would realize that Trump should speak last if they intended to retain a substantial audience.

Donald Trump speaks at the 10th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit. (photo by Jingting Huang)

Donald Trump speaks at the 10th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit. (photo by Jingting Huang)

In the end, the takeaway from this event was that it doesn’t usually matter what Trump does or says in regard to issues, in this instance, renewable fuels. To his supporters Trump can do no wrong. He is strategic and knows how to manipulate a crowd. One would think that at an event discussing renewable fuels, whichever candidate was speaking would have to stay on this topic for the majority of the time. However in Trump’s case his star factor alone was enough to steer attention away from the subject of the event and towards his own agenda.

Marcus Loffredo, Veronica Jandura, Jingting Huang, Rocco Stefanini, and Kara Strickler all contributed to this post.