Trump misleads base during debates

Nrhari Duran

On Saturday, Robert DeNiro announced that he wanted to punch Donald Trump in the face. By now thousands of voters have probably sent DeNiro a few hundred pairs of boxing gloves and brass knuckles. Experts are still unsure if the wrath of the Corleone family can successfully knock Trump out of the race.

Trump’s secret to lasting in this political ring is neither his wealth nor his “charm.” Instead, Trump uses his conversational speaking style to mislead the audience. Of course, the toupee definitely helps too.

Whether it’s at a rally or on the debate stage, The Donald will often dodge an important question or justify a claim by shouting buzzwords, catchphrases and dubious statistics. These responses redirect the viewer’s attention to a related issue while avoiding the nature of the question. In the speech and debate community, this form of persuasion is called a “moving target,” and Trump loves using it.

During Sunday night’s presidential debate Trump was asked if his behavior set a positive example for today’s youth. His response quickly veered from, “I guess I have been a politician,” to the questionable claim that Obamacare drove health insurance prices up “68 percent, 59 percent, [and] 71 percent.” Trump made sure to remind voters that he would make America great again four times, but deliberately left out his endorsement by the KKK, his past offensive remarks and his recent “locker room talk.” In essence, Trump ignored the question to excite his voters with easily digestible quips and unexplained statistics.

When moderator Anderson Cooper pressed Trump about his “locker room banter,” Trump responded, “No, I didn’t say that at all … It’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.” “Forrest Trump” successfully “moved the target” by completely shifting focus off of his behavior and onto patriotic fervor.

This conversational misdirection can be seen off the debate stage, as well. During his August rally here in Austin, Trump claimed that his administration would restore law and order, but immediately sidetracked. “The Toupee’d Tornado” took the opportunity to spend a full two minutes thanking local law enforcement, while only allocating 30 seconds to how he planned to achieve his crime goals. That was the end of his talk on crime (which amounted to, “I’ll appoint someone else to handle it”). Without addressing the nature of American crime, its causes or his so-called solution, Trump turned a policy discussion into a buzzword-fest which earned him ten seconds of applause.

As election day draws near, voters must be vigilant of Trump’s misleading political tactics.

Duran is an international relations and global studies freshman from Spring. Follow him on twitter @bboydeadfish