Op-ed by Summer Lane | Photo: Alamy
It was just another typical Wednesday afternoon when President Donald Trump walked into the Treehouse Pub & Eatery in Bettendorf, Iowa, drawing cheers and screams of excitement from patrons who held up their phones with the hope of getting a picture of the president.
President Trump comfortably sailed through the crush of supporters, shaking hands, taking pictures, and amicably handing out boxes of pizza, prompting people to squeal, “We want pizza from TRUMP!”
While some political candidates might simply relegate themselves to stiff photo-ops and tightly controlled speeches from behind the safety of a blunt podium, President Trump regularly walks right into the crowd and strikes up conversations with blue-collar working Americans.
Trump’s visit to the local Iowa pub is just one example of his organic 2024 campaign strategy, which has led him through the front doors of places like, “The Machine Shed,” a popular barbecue joint in Davenport, and the well-loved local hotspot in Miami’s Little Havana, “Café Versailles.”
Just this week, Trump swung by the Palmetto State Armory on his way to deliver a campaign speech in Summerville, South Carolina, perusing the store alongside the proud owner and taking photos with eager supporters.
These types of campaign moments set Trump apart from other GOP presidential candidates who are stuck in an outdated method of campaigning that was rubberstamped by the establishment Republican Party decades ago.
Where other Republicans grit their teeth and try to set up organic moments with potential voters while photographers lurk just out of sight, President Trump plunges right into the chaos and excitement and doesn’t look back.
Trump is the real deal
For decades before his initial presidential bid in 2016, President Trump was a businessman who knew how to make a deal. His 1987 bestseller, “The Art of the Deal,” pretty much sums up his approach to business, which is a strategy that has also transferred beautifully to his 2024 presidential reelection campaign.
On page one of “The Art of the Deal,” Trump wrote this:
“Most people are surprised by the way I work. I play it very loose. I don’t carry a briefcase. I try not to schedule too many meetings. I leave my door open. You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure. I prefer to come to work each day and just see what develops.”
Trump’s willingness to keep the door “open,” and cast rigid structure to the wind in his 2024 campaign has proven to be wildly successful. Although Trump certainly has his “structured” moments while he is delivering speeches at fundraisers or attending GOP dinners, it is obvious that his greatest strength is in his ability to organically interact with everyday people.
The president doesn’t seek to project an inauthentic image of being “the everyday guy” while he’s campaigning – because he’s not. Trump is an anomaly, a shooting star in a dark, static sky. He’s a billionaire from New York whose lavish lifestyle became synonymous in U.S. culture with American success. And today, when he walks into a room, he is the man in the arena, happily greeting supporters and friends, giving away slices of pizza, and asking Dairy Queen employees with a sardonic smile, “What the hell is a Blizzard?”
This is Donald Trump at his best – a man of the people.
‘Old Guard’ GOP candidates will never authentically connect with Americans
Republican candidates like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Ambassador Nikki Haley are part of an old-school Republican establishment that relies on schmoozing billionaire donors and hosting black-tie dinner galas. While Christie and Haley stand no chance of getting within striking distance of the nomination, they serve as an example of the stiffness of Republican campaigning that has repeatedly sunk conservative candidates’ efforts against their Democrat opponents.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., for example, was once considered to be the “heir apparent” to President Trump’s MAGA empire, carving out what seemed to be an impressive string of conservative policy victories in the state of Florida after President Trump helped him win his election with a coveted endorsement.
Unfortunately for DeSantis, the charisma factor has been sorely missing in his campaign. Trump has bluntly referred to the Florida governor as a “lousy candidate” when talking to Megyn Kelly, and it’s hard to disagree. DeSantis has clearly struggled to connect with average American voters, despite having traveled the nation and attempted to court Iowa caucus-goers.
At the Iowa-Iowa State football game in early September, DeSantis sat in the bleachers while Trump was mobbed by throngs of fans and supporters, his security entourage tightly maintaining their perimeter. Before the game, Trump met with young Iowa State University students, tossing footballs to the kids, grilling up a hamburger, and taking pictures with fraternity members.
People are drawn to Trump because despite his billionaire status, he has seamlessly made himself relatable and accessible to the average, everyday person. Voters respect that authenticity, whereas cookie-cutter establishment politicians who are beholden to their billionaire donors cannot project who they really are – they can only offer a bleak reflection of the elitists who pour money into their campaign coffers.
Pay attention because Trump is giving Americans the key to success
Like it or not, President Trump is showing the nation how to run a successful ground game campaign. It’s a lesson that few Republican politicians will take to heart, but the smart ones will take note. Among the exceptional few is Kari Lake, a close Trump ally poised to launch a likely 2024 Senate bid in Arizona.
Lake, who has sometimes joked that she is “Trump in a dress,” is perhaps the most likely political figure who has taken Trump’s authentic, no-holds-barred approach to grassroots campaigning to heart.
But Lake, like Trump, is a rarity in American politics. Where GOP candidates today are tightly tied to and controlled by big donors and lobbyists, President Trump is independently wealthy and uncontrollable. He represents not only the will of the people but the heart and soul of working-class Americans.
The president’s grassroots support is unmatched, and his polling has never been higher. In the latest Monmouth poll, Trump is leading the field of GOP candidates by a whopping 38 points, while DeSantis has been in freefall since launching his presidential bid in May.
As Trump heads back to Iowa next week to attend a Team Trump caucus event, political pundits and conservative commentators should pay attention to the 45th president because he is handing patriotic Americans the blueprint to running a successful and ultimately victorious presidential campaign.