WASHINGTON – GOP front-runner Donald Trump spoke with clarity Thursday at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum. Just not about what really matters.
“I want your support, but I don’t want your money,” Trump said to the group of about 100 people.
The Republican presidential hopeful was clear when he spoke about money. This makes sense: He has been a businessman his whole life. What was less clear is his position on Israel – which does not make sense since he is now a politician running for president.
The Republican Jewish Coalition fully embraces a pro-Israel foreign policy and supports “the importance of Israel as a Jewish state to Jews and non-Jews worldwide.”
It seems Trump’s address was meant make him, a non-Jew, appear approachable to the Jewish community, so approachable they would want to vote for him. (Trump spoke before his call to ban Muslims from entering the country.)
In an effort to understand the Trump sales machine, I examined his speech to dissect his strategy for winning Republican Jewish votes.
Sales pitch 1: Trump loves Israel and Jews
“I’ve devoted so much time over my life to Israel. And the other politicians, they can talk, but believe me, they haven’t done what I’ve done,” he said in his opening line.
“I was the grand marshal of the Israeli day parade at a very dangerous time when people said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ But I said, ‘No way,’ that I’m not going to do it,” he said.
“I’ve given a lot of money recently to Hatzalah, $100,000 for emergency response. They do a fantastic job,” Trump said, referring to the Jewish nonprofit rescue squad based in U.S.
Sales pitch 2: We’re all businesspeople
When Trump humorously generalized Jews as deal-making and negotiating businesspeople, the crowd roaring with laughter.
Trump said he was in the same position as his Jewish audience five months ago, listening to politicians and making campaign donations. Because he is a businessman, and in fact, one of them, he asked, “Who is better than me? Who is better than me?”
Trump was quick to remind his audience of their commonality when talking about how badly the Iran nuclear deal was being handled by President Barack Obama.
“Look, I’m a negotiator like you folks. We’re negotiators,” Trump said.
Sales pitch 3: Trump is the best
In typical fashion, Trump spoke of his achievements.
“I’m self-funding my campaign. It’s been an amazing experience for me because I have very little money invested so far,” Trump said. He said he would not accept campaign donations from the crowd.
“I filled my financials – almost a 100 pages. And everybody said, ‘Oh my god! He’s much bigger, much stronger! Holy mackerel, look at these numbers!’” Trump said.
The GOP candidate also used innumerable superlatives to describe himself: fantastic, amazing, tremendous, incredible, best, stronger, bigger.
Sales pitch 4: Bash the Democrats
And finally, how else to galvanize a Republican audience than by criticizing Democrats?
“Obama is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel,” Trump said. “John Kerry, who is probably the worst negotiator I’ve ever seen.”
He gave far worse treatment to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“Her whole life is corruption. She was a horrible secretary of state. She did a horrible job, other than travel a lot,” Trump said. “Nothing ever got done. The world blew up around her.”
“She shouldn’t be allowed to run. What she did is criminal,” Trump said, referring to the Clinton email scandal.
After an 18-minute monologue, Trump concluded his speech in the Trumpest of ways.
“I’ll just tell you that I’m going to win. I believe I’m going to win. I just have a great feeling about it. My life has been about winning, and that’s what I want to do for the country.”
During the Q&A session, Trump remained vague about the Israel-Palestine situation and about what his peace-making efforts would look like.
“To show you how important this all is, and how important the country is to me, and how important Israel is to me. It’s so important I don’t mention my projects,” Trump said.
Reach reporter Kelvin Suddason at email@example.com or 202-408-1494. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.