Trump's Broken Speech Appeals to the Masses
On paper, his words appear garbled, but Trump's talk mirrors typical conversation.
When Donald Trump talks, he doesn't sound like an ordinary presidential candidate. His sentences are fragmented. He jumps around. On paper, his words appear garbled.
But there may be a good reason why this seeming incoherence hasn't hurt Trump in the Republican run for the presidential nomination: Trump's talk mirrors typical conversation, bolstering his status as an honest outsider.
"[Trump's] unique rhetorical style may come off as incoherent and unintelligible when we compare it with the organized structure of other candidates' answers," Georgetown University linguist Jennifer Sclafani told Live Science. "On the other hand, his conversational style may also help construct an identity for him as authentic, relatable and trustworthy, which are qualities that voters look for in a presidential candidate." [Quiz: Bizarre Presidential Elections]
Talking Trump Trump's style is different from that of most modern public speakers. He has an especially repetitive style, University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman has pointed out on the blog Language Log. In a December post, Liberman excerpted a sample of an interview with Trump in which he was asked how to defeat the Islamic State group. Trump's response included variations of the phrase "bomb all these sites" three times in quick succession:
Well, if I were president, we probably wouldn't be in the problems we have right now, because it's incredible - we have an attack, and then all of a sudden, we bomb all these sites. Why didn't we bomb the sites before? We should have bombed the sites a long time ago.
Trump's vocabulary is also less diverse than other candidates', Liberman found, and his repetition tendency is a major cause of that. Trump also uses short verb phrases, which seem simplistic on their face, Sclafani said. She cited an example about immigration from the Feb. 25 Republican debate, in which Trump said:
But, we either have a country, or we don't have a country. We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back - some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process - and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that's very fair, and very fine.
Germanic verb phrases like "come in," "go out" and "come back," are shorter and lighter than Latin-derived alternatives like "immigrate" and "deport," which Trump avoids, Sclafani said. But those simple phrases allow for parallel constructions like, "They will go out. They will come back" - which mirrors the parallel, "We either have a country, or we don't have a country."
"Despite the lack of logical coherence in his response, the simplicity and rhetorical structure of his statements may be appealing on another level," Sclafani said. [Oh Snap: 10 Memorable Political One-Liners]
An outsider's voice Trump's rhetoric stands in sharp contrast to that of his opponents. Take this now-infamous tidbit from the March 3 Republican debate in Detroit, when Trump responded to a question about fellow candidate Marco Rubio attacking him personally in the preceding days:
Well, I also happened to call him a lightweight, OK? And I have said that. So I would like to take that back. He is really not that much of a lightweight. And as far as - and I have to say this, I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands - if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there is no problem. I guarantee.
In contrast, Rubio started with a classic politician's segue when asked about the back-and-forth insults between he and Trump. "Yes, you know, Bret, let me say something," he began, addressing the moderator. He then launched into a relatively smooth speech, with only one false start:
This campaign - for the last year, Donald Trump has basically mocked everybody with personal attacks. He has done so to people that are sitting on the stage today. He has done so about people that are disabled. He has done it about every candidate in this race.
So if there is anyone who has ever deserved to be attacked that way, it has been Donald Trump, for the way he has treated people in the campaign.
On paper, Rubio looks a lot more coherent than Trump. But this kind of communication isn't how people talk every day, Sclafani said.
"If you listen carefully to the type of conversation among friends you might overhear in a café, their utterances will be full of incomplete sentences, abrupt topic shifts and non-sequiturs [unconnected statements]," she said.
Another, former outsider candidate, Sarah Palin (John McCain's running mate from the 2008 election) has a similar jumpy style, Sclafani said. But Palin's Alaska accent might make people more likely to think of her as mentally slow, she said, while Trump's rapid New York cadence may make him seem smarter. Trump is also a brand, Sclafani said, and his mode of speech is part of his image.
"He comes off as the same type of person in the political sphere as he did in the reality TV/business sphere," she said, "which works toward his image as authentic and trustworthy."
Original article on Live Science.
The 5 Strangest Presidential Elections in US History Oh Snap: 10 Memorable Political One-Liners 6 Politicians Who Got the Science Wrong Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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In 1872, entrepreneur and suffragette Victoria Woodhull became what many historians consider the first legitimate female candidate for the presidency. Running on a platform of women's rights and pro-labor issues, Woodhull secured the nomination of the Equal Rights Party, along with her running mate -- the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Woodhull was a remarkable woman in many respects. Active in the fashionable spiritualist movement of the day, she also ran a Wall Street brokerage house and published a newspaper with original investigative reporting. In the paper, she advocated quite articulately for social policies that were decades ahead of their time, including sex education, vegetarianism and legalized prostitution. Woodhull also supported "free love" principles, which in that era meant the right to marry and divorce without government involvement or societal stigma: "Yes, I am a Free Lover," Woodhull wrote. "I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please, and with that right neither you nor any law you can frame have any right to interfere." Power, sister.
As leader of the Communist Party USA through the 1930s and 1940s, Earl Browder was for a time the most public face of the communist movement in America. Born in Kansas, Browder was active in U.S. labor movements as a teenager and was jailed for resisting the draft during World War I. Browder was the official Communist Party candidate in 1936 and 1940. He's just one of many presidential candidates nominated by various U.S. communist groups in the 20th century, but Browder's position as a high-profile public figure had several intriguing aspects. It was an open secret that Browder worked directly with espionage agencies in Moscow, and several members of his family were known intelligence operatives for the Soviets. He was, in effect, a not-so-secret agent running for president. Browder also faced some practical impediments to assuming the presidency. At the time of his nomination in 1940, he was appealing a conviction for passport forgery, which carried a four-year stint in federal prison. That would have made for a tricky first term in office.
A prominent name in U.S. politics in the early 19th century, Hugh Lawson White was a former Tennessee state supreme court justice and eventual U.S. senator. In an era of stern gentlemen, he was a particularly austere personality with hardcore constructionist views on judicial interpretation and states' rights. In the 1836 election, the emerging Whig party decided to try something a little different. Rather than back a single candidate, the party put forth multiple candidates, each of whom was to run a regional campaign, banking on their respective local popularity. White was one of four Whig candidates, along with William Henry Harrison, Willie Mangum and Daniel Webster. The idea was to win a majority in the Electoral College, then decide on the presidential ticket later. The Whig strategy didn't work, and it's maybe just as well. Had White been installed in the Oval Office, America would surely have had its most anal-retentive president ever. When he was serving in the Senate, White considered it his duty to attend every single Senate speech and meeting, and he was known to arrive at the Capitol building in the wee hours of the morning and stay late into the night. Punctuality was something of a passion for White, and his pocket watch is on display in a Tennessee museum.
The candidate for whom the term "wingnut" was apparently invented, California congressman John G. Schmitz was the American Independent Party candidate for president in 1972. Infamous for his outrageous political rhetoric, Schmitz not only mounted a campaign to challenge incumbent Richard Nixon -- from the right -- he was eventually expelled from the John Birch Society for "extremism." Schmitz' third-party run was doomed from the start, but it was no joke. He got almost 10 percent of the vote in Idaho and finished ahead of Democratic nominee George McGovern in some counties. But Schmitz' crazybones quotes to the media have endured as his historical claim to fame. Of Nixon's trip to China, he famously said: "I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back." Schmitz also endorsed the return of segregated schools, called the Watts riots "a communist operation" and in the 1980s suggested that "
good military coup might be the best we could hope for if President Reagan's policies are not successful." Odd footnote: Schmitz' daughter is