BY: MIROSLAV TOMOSKI
Teleprompters on either side of the podium were Donald Trump’s best friends on Monday afternoon when he spoke in front of the Detroit Economic Club. The event was supposed to be an unveiling of his plan to get the country working again, but turned into a shouting match as several hecklers rose from their seats to interrupt.
The last time Donald Trump came to Detroit, it was for the Fox News Republican debate where he assured everyone watching that his hands – among other things – were definitely well proportioned. Since then, Trump has won his Party’s hesitant nomination and returned to the city in a mellowed state which seems to take Teddy Roosevelt’s famous saying, “speak softly and carry a large stick” to heart.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump once said at the beginning of the primary campaign. “Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell – I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
“I’d like to punch him in the face.” He said less than a month later about a protester in Nevada.
Yet, on Monday in Detroit, when he might otherwise have been forced by his own competitive nature to shout right back at each heckler, he looked to be rather tame.
“All you’ve got is tiny hands!” One protester shouted repeatedly as he was escorted out of the building. The Donald just shrugged. Somewhere in Cobo Hall, campaign chairman Paul Manafort might well have been watching in silent prayer that his candidate would stay on script while the Secret Service played a live-action game of whack-a-mole with the audience.
The speech felt terribly scripted and with Donald’s head moving back and forth methodically there was good reason to believe that it was. Trump and Clinton have broken records as some of the least popular candidates in American history. And after each party’s convention the major theme on both sides appeared to be: ‘at least we’re not as bad as the other guys.’
Still, the past week seems to have treated Hillary Clinton much better than her opponent as multiple e-mail scandals gave way to a downward spiral for the Trump campaign. In a week that included an off script tangent about a baby at a rally and a verbal war with the family of a Muslim veteran killed in action, polls have not been kind to the New York billionaire. The most recent of which, released on the day of his speech by Monmouth University shows Clinton beating Trump by 13 points nationally.
In his speech, Trump promised to renegotiate the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, lower taxes for businesses as well as a tax credit to cover the average cost of child care – something Republicans have not been eager to offer in the past.
But only a few minutes after Trump was introduced by his running mate Mike Pence, photographers in the press cage were scanning the audience to see who was next to jump out of their seat and interrupt the guest of honour.
In all, seventeen people were escorted out of the building including one photographer who managed to stray from the designated media pen and a man who seemed to reflexively yell, “good!” when Trump mentioned the death of the coal industry.
Michigan People’s Campaign, a local activist group, took responsibility for the interruptions on their Twitter page later that day. Many of the protesters were female and demanded that Trump take responsibility for his remarks towards women.
Despite the interruptions Donald shrugged his shoulders and plowed on through the script showing promising signs that he can be a calmer candidate.
“I didn’t really hear anything new. The lower taxes are good, but we’ll see what happens with that.” One man wearing a Trump Pence hat said, tired of the rhetoric and disappointed that the speech lacked details. On the other hand, supporters like Clint Eastwood, might even say that Trump is giving into the, “pussy generation,” by not continuing to speak his mind.
With such a soft demeanour in the face of provocation, it felt as though there was a different candidate in Detroit trying to find the balance between those who like him loud and those who don’t like him at all.