In a major campaign announcement from a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump promised to swear off foul language.
That sounds like a satirical piece from The Onion. Alas, that really happened. Trump has earned loads of earned media during the early primary process by making outrageous and inflammatory outbursts.Trump's military strategy was the equivalent of bombing the fecal matter out of ISIS. Trump has also whispered the "F" bomb from center stage.
In the eve of the New Hampshire primary, when Trump was critiquing his main opponent Senator Ted Cruz's approach on enhanced interrogation, the Manhattan Mogul gleefully repeated a vile and vulgar shout out from the crowd referring to female genitalia. This was a quintessential example of Trump employing paralepsis, in which a speaker says something with plausible deniability. Later, Trump justified his crass comments that we were just having fun. Sure.
But if we are to believe Trump's Baton Rouge Pledge, the GOP front-runner will no longer use foul language. Some have argued that the quip against Cruz was intended to be short for pussillanimous. If so, why pretend to chide the shout out not to use the language with a smile?
It is a sad statement of the state of Trump's campaign that a populist politician has to shout it out to the rooftops that he will swear off foul language. So why the sudden shift?
Much of Trump's appeal to die-hard supporters is that he can't be bought since he claims to be self-financing his campaign (but won't turn down contributions). That being said, Trump does not hesitate to pander, to questionable effectiveness.
In several early primaries, such as Iowa, South Carolina and five of the SEC primaries, evangelicals make up a substantial proportion of the Republican electorate. So it's no surprise that politicians hungry for evangelical support would play up faith themes on the hustings.
Well, this was not a believable ploy for Trump, especially with his "Two Corinthians" citation at Liberty University. But this voter bloc should be more than properly quoting Bible verses. They also tend to be values voters. And a foul mouthed, avarice animated politician is a hard sell to those seeking to walk the faith.
The Cruz campaign sought to capitalize on this crucible with a clever ad mimicking Trump themes from the mouths of babes.
The spot successfully captured the crassness of Trump with boorish behavior without putting foul words in the childrens' mouths. But the telling shot was the parents watching the playroom with a voice over "We wouldn't tolerate this behavior in our children--why would we want them in a President?" Thus the commercial was more than about illustrating crony capitalism and eminent domain but about values voters, which is a bulleye in South Carolina with a 60% evangelical GOP voter base.
Let's see how long Trump can stifle his crass asides. As the SEC primaries are on March 1st, I suspect it will be March second (sic) if we are lucky.