New York Times writer Patrick Healey has offered a theory about why Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump keeps saying those outrageous things in his speeches.
Healy, who served as the Times’ main Broadway reporter from 2009 to 2015 before transferring to cover the presidential election campaign, took part in the newspaper’s The Run-Up political blog, posted August 12. He was interviewed by columnist Thomas Friedman, who made note of Healy's stage background, and asked if Trump spoke differently to him in person than he did while giving speeches to crowds of cheering fans on the stump.
Hear what Healy has to say starting at the 5:30-minute mark on The New York Times' The Run-Up podcast, episode 2.
Healey says Trump speaks much more directly in person. But once he gets before a crowd, he starts using the ”I don't know” and ”Something’s going on here” constructions that imply more than they overtly say, in order to ”rile up” voters.
”Throughout this entire campaign I've felt like Trump has been giving this leading man performance,” Healy says. “the way that he goes to kind of a bag of tricks in terms of the language he uses; the instinct for the audience.”
”He once said to me, ‘I always know that when I’m losing the audience—when I feel like they’re not with me— all I need to do is veer into saying [things like] We’re going to build a wall, and its going to be great!’”
”He knows how to read an audience....This guy is a showman.”