Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How the 2000 tag team of Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura set the stage for a "wrestler in the White House"

Wrestler CM Punk from the indies to the "Big League".
Trump, teasing a run in 2000 to officially announcing his Presidential bid in 2015.
Wrestlers hone their stagecraft as they develop, perfecting their lines and shaping their personas. As they move up the ranks from the indie circuit to the big stage, storylines may get rehashed as they reintroduce themselves to bigger and bigger audiences. The same goes for politics.
Presidential candidates who may have been popular or influential in their districts or States, mount campaigns using the playbook that served them well on the regional stage. Deploying familiar lines and refining their message, a look into one's Gubernatorial or Senate races might telegraph a candidate's arc.
That being said, often times the wider public only see the latest and grander incarnation. Unaware of the recycled messaging and the winding road to becoming the character they see in front of them.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Trump left no such trail as he became the first person to assume the Presidency with no prior political or military experience. Donald Trump has been a public figure for several decades and has hinted at becoming President as early as 1988 and signaling serious bids from 2000.
That Time Donald Trump And Jesse Ventura Talked Campaign Strategy
Donald Trump's "outsider" campaign for president is nothing new to Minnesota voters — it's very similar to the one that elected former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in 1998.

In fact, Trump once came to Minnesota to find out from Ventura himself exactly how he did it while he was considering a run for public office himself.

"It's almost like he's reading our playbook," said Dean Barkley, Ventura's campaign chairman, who Ventura later appointed to the U.S. Senate. "Ventura had very, very high negatives. Nobody took him seriously. What he had going for him was his personality, and his ability to connect with people."
VIDEO: Donald Trump Jesse Ventura press conference

Watching Trump and Ventura's news conference on the Reform Party presidential race of 2000, you'll find talking points that foretell storylines for Trump's winning campaign 16 years later. Those who followed the campaign closely might recognise now-familiar phrases from this event, including the iconic Trumpism - "Big League".

Below are selected transcripts of that 2000 speech accompanied by mirroring headlines from 2016.
MSNBC: Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme
Trump addressing the charge that his Presidential campaign is a publicity stunt, a glorified book tour
REPORTER: (17m 06s) Is this more of a book tour promotion than a Presidential Campaign?
DONALD TRUMP: ... All 3 of my books have been No.1 Bestsellers. I don't need this for that. New York City's the hottest selling city in the World. I'm selling condominiums and buildings like crazy. I don't need it for that. I'm doing this very seriously. The book whether it goes to No.1 as the other 3 have or whether it doesn't is not a major factor economically. It's not a lot of money in a book no matter how successful it is.

I am looking very seriously as to whether or not it can be won. Very much like Jesse, you go out and you run. If I go out and get 20% of the vote. Big deal! People say "Great Job" for 24 hours, Great Job. And not that its a bad place I'm back in my office at Trump Tower the following Wednesday. So I'm looking as to whether or not I can win. If I can win I believe I can do a very good job otherwise I wouldn't be running. It's as simple as that.
HARTFORD COURANT: Trump brings fiery message to thousands in Hartford
Donald Trump on the support he's gotten by way of the thousands in attendance at his rallies
REPORTER: Mr Trump, on that point you had a packed house here today. How have you done elsewhere in the Country. What kind of feelings are you getting, what kind of vibe...?

TRUMP: Well its been amazing. As I think you know its been amazing. We've had 17,000 people show up in California. We had 14,000 show up in Hartford, Connecticut you know its a little disconcerting when you leave and you say "How many people am I speaking in front of?", your secretary says "17,500 people". And you never sort of heard of that.
We have had a tremendous response. On television we've gotten the highest ratings, on Larry King and virtually every show. 60 Minutes is doing a big piece on January 11th where I speak very brilliantly of him [Jesse Ventura]... so its been very strong.
POLITICO: How did everyone get it so wrong?
Jesse Ventura describing how the voters defied unanimous polls that pegged him to lose his 3-way Gubernatorial race in 1998. Echoing Donald Trump's unlikely Presidential win of 2016.
JESSE VENTURA: ... You can't focus on a particular market but certainly if you can have a dynamic campaign that inspires young people. Those are voters that aren't polled which is another great disservice to the 15% we're talking about that we're supposed to get because I never once -- to show you how fraudulent polling can be. I never once, not at one point in my election was I polled to be the winner. There was not one poll that indicated that Jesse Ventura would be the next Governor of the state of Minnesota yet when that November 3rd came, who won? And the polls didn't dictate who won, the voters dictated it and I ended up winning that election when no poll indicated that in the first place and that's why it was fraudulent that they would set that type of thing up based upon polling results
WASHINGTON POST: Here's why Trump's attacks on 'fake news' succeed
Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura pushing back on reporters who were mischaracterizing them
REPORTER: (15m 31s) Governor,  Donald Trump said earlier that he thinks if he decided to run for President that you would probably endorse him
TRUMP: I didn't say that. When did I say that?!
VENTURA: Aah you see, we caught you Press
TRUMP: He's the New York Post, don't worry. It's the New York Post (pointing lightheartedly)
VENTURA: You see if Donald wasn't here now, they would have gotten away with that question.
TRUMP: Now look at him, he just hides his head. He doesn't even dispute it. That's alright, New York Post
*room laughs*

REPORTER: (26m 15) Do you seen anyone else, do you know of any other [candidate you could endorse]?
VENTURA: I haven't been searching for anyone
REPORTER: Has anyone spoke to you and asked for your endorsement?
REPORTER: So you're probably going to endorse Donald Trump if he runs?
TRUMP: (interjects) Again -- New York Post Governor. Don't worry about it.
VENTURA: I know, I like the New York Post. They write all sorts of fabrications
Its worth noting how cordial the press' relationship with Trump is was, known then as a political freelancer and folksy celebrity businessman. Compared to today, where President Trump has a sub 40% approval rating and is resisted by a large swathe of the population despite retaining his populist appeal.
The conference was held 4 years prior to the success of NBC's 'The Apprentice' and Jesse Ventura declaring "we may need a Wrestler in the White House" alongside the Donald at WrestleMania XX.
Jesse had coaxed Trump ringside that day to endorse him but it would be Trump who would go on to occupy the highest office in the land 12 years later.

No comments: