The 2024 Presidential campaign is starting to heat up! At his Rapid City, South Dakota rally on Friday, September 8, former President Donald Trump spoke forcefully on a variety of topics. Here are some highlights:
South Dakota is the state where Lewis and Clark discovered the American workers.
Huh? I really have no idea what he was trying to say here. But, he went on:
It’s where generations of hunters and trappers, cowboys, ranchers, miners, farmers, workers, and craftsmen helped build America into the greatest nation in the history of the world.
True enough, if a bit boilerplate. But here’s where the former President hit an interesting note:
But now, we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation. We are a nation that has the highest inflation in 50 years. Where banks are collapsing. Interest rates are through the roof. Likewise, we are a nation where energy costs have reached the highest in our history. Where we are no longer energy independent or energy dominant as we were just a short number of years ago.
Here, President Trump has struck a chord that may well push his appeal past the Trump base. If he wants to win in 2024 — and it’s safe to assume he does — this is one way to do it. Whoever will run away with the GOP presidential nomination, and then the general election, will be the one who can shine the most light on the failure of the Biden Administration, and — this is the important bit — can point out the path forward.
That’s essential. Every candidate should be talking about what they want to do, and how they want to do it.
In an uncharacteristically somber tone, Trump went on to discuss our failure to drill for oil; the “fake” Green New Deal that will “lead to our country’s destruction”; and the push for electric cars that “can’t go far, cost too much, and whose batteries are produced in China with materials only available in China.”
He mentioned the “dead soldiers, American citizens” the Biden administration left behind in Afghanistan along with “85 billion dollars worth of the finest military equipment in the world” and the “hundreds of thousands of people” that have been killed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A high point of the whole affair was the endorsement of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, as my colleague Neil McCabe documented earlier on Saturday. It is as yet very early in the campaign, but there were flashes of the old Trump energy in this rally, along with a few moments that kind of fell flat. It’s probably sensible to allow candidates to still reach their full stride at this point.
Rallies are great; they are a vital part of a campaign. In this 2024 campaign, any candidate who speaks live to large, unscreened crowds sets up a huge contrast to the (presumably) upcoming Biden campaign, where he will only address small, pre-screened groups.
For that matter, any of the other likely Democrat backup players will likely do the same; consider, for example, either Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsom, neither of whom have ever faced a hostile interviewer or an actual debate in their political careers. That’s the contrast not just Donald Trump but the entire GOP needs to point up: Talk at length to large, uproarious crowds, give live interviews, and push for several debates in the general election. The Democrats will almost certainly avoid unscreened crowds and will try to avoid debates. That’s another big difference. Point it out, talk it up, and emphasize it at every turn. Presidential campaigns perhaps shouldn’t be popularity contests, but in large part, they are; play to the reality.
Here’s where the former President (or, indeed, any GOP candidate) needs to go from here:
- Compare and contrast his or her proposed policies with the current administration. It’s not enough to point out the Biden Administration’s failures; Trump needs to show how he will repair things. Approach this from the 30,000-foot level; stick to the broad strokes.
- Push the “silent majority” angle. Joe Biden’s approval ratings are in the basement; there’s an opportunity here to inspire the “unlikely voters” that appear to be breaking for Trump. These people need to be encouraged to get out and vote.
- Keep it simple. The “Make America Great Again” message in 2016 was effective; it’s simple, pithy, easy to remember. Hit that basic message over and over.
- Forget about re-litigating 2020. It’s over. Now, President Trump (along with the other candidates) has to focus on winning the nomination, and then the election.
All of these points, of course, would work as well for anyone who wins the GOP POTUS nomination.
You can watch the entire Rapid City Trump rally below.