Campaign Symbolism 101: Donald Trump’s Emergency Landing

It turns out Donald Trump lost altitude in more than just the Iowa caucuses this week.

Exhibit A: Mechanical troubles forced Trump Force One to make an emergency landing in Tennessee on Wednesday.

From ABC’s The Note:

Donald Trump’s Private Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Nashville

Donald Trump‘s private jet made an emergency landing in Nashville Wednesday afternoon after the pilot reported engine problems, officials said.

The Boeing 757 landed in Nashville at 4:40 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Trump tweeted away the malfunction with his usual bravado.


Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.31.04 AM


Regardless, the Trump Dump brings back memories of a similar tarmac attack during the 1988 presidential race (via Oxford Journal’s Public Opinion Quarterly).

[A] flat tire on Michael Dukakis’s airplane on the tarmac became an irresistible metaphor for his predicament in the polls. The tire became the focal point of the Dukakis story that day. Just as Dukakis can’t get off the ground in the polls, his plane today couldn’t get off the ground at the now forgotten airport. It is a shot . . . seen many times since, be it a candidate stumble, a mumble, or yet another case of airplane trouble.

Then again, consider this graphic from Wednesday’s New York Times:


Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.03.34 AM


If Trump can corral North Carolina, why not color-coordinated Tennessee as well? Maybe on Super Tuesday the Volunteer State will help the GOP Hair Apparent take off.

Anything’s possible with a kamikaze pilot like Trump.

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The Paranoid Style in American Politics (2016 Edition)

In an interview on NBC’s Today show before his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama talked to Matt Lauer about the Donald Trumpa Lumpa craze (around 3:55).



Trump’s a little nuts graf:

The message that Donald Trump’s putting out has had adherence a lot of times during the course of our history.

No kidding.

Exhibit A: Historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.

Consider, for example, this Lyndon Johnson 1964 campaign ad.



Barry Goldwater turned the 1964 Republican National Convention into a total bar brawl, which he won much to the GOP’s dismay.

More from Hofstadter:

I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.

It goes beyond men with disturbed minds: It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

Paging Donald Trump. Paging Mr. Donald Trump.

But here’s the scary part: “The clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him. The spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others.”

That would apply to, well, anything Trump has said in the past eight months.

So . . . be paranoid. Be very paranoid.

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Welcome to the 2016 Billion-Dollar Digital Adlection

If the 2004 presidential campaign was the Internet Election, and the 2008 campaign was the Social Media Election, and the 2012 campaign was the Twitter Election, then the 2016 presidential campaign is the Digital Ad Election.

From USA Today:

TV, the old king of U.S. politics, faces mortality

“I’ve spent no money, and I’m number one.” — Donald Trump

”I’m going to do something really novel. It’s called advertising.’’ — Jeb Bush

Both presidential candidates, one the year’s big surprise and the other its big disappointment, were talking about television, for a 635851983951547181-488696300half century the dominant weapon of national politics.

Trump was proclaiming its irrelevance; Bush was acknowledging such skepticism — while doubling down.

It’s a paradox of the 2016 campaign: unprecedented political spending on TV ads, and unprecedented doubt over whether it’s having much impact.

The fall of King TV is not imminent. But in 2015, TV broadcast advertising seemed inversely related to political success, as measured by polls.

And what will eventually replace TV advertising?

Digital ads.

From Felicia Greiff at Ad Age:

2016 Election Digital Ad Spending Will Break $1 Billion


A report from Borrell Associates shows digital is gaining importance in politics, breaking $1 billion or 9.5% of total political ad spending in the 2016 election season. But broadcast TV spending will still take the lion’s share at $5.8 billion or 51% of the total.

If you’re worried you’ll see less red, white and blue ads with patriotic symbolism, don’t be; the report, “2015–2016 Political Advertising Outlook,” said political advertising spending will hit $11.4 billion in 2016, a 20% increase from 2014. Combined spending for this year and next year will reach a staggering $16.5 billion.

Runners-up: “After broadcast TV comes cable spending, with $1.1 billion or 10% of the total 2016 political ad spend. Digital closely follows, then newspapers with $848 million (7.4% )and radio with $827 (7.3%) of total spending.”

Let’s take a breath here. $16.5 billion will be spent on political advertising in the 2016 election cycle? That’s a billion dollars more than the GDP of Iceland.

Whatever. Because digital’s billion dollars this year will triple by the next presidential election according to Issie Lapowsky’s piece in Wired.

Helpful chart:




Meanwhile, this year’s digital billion worth of political ads is “a nearly 5,000 percent increase from the measly $22.25 million spent on digital ads back in 2008.”

Not to mention, digital ad spending overall is expected to surpass TV advertising in the next two years.

So you do the political math.

P.S. The harddusting staff talked about the digital ad surge with Robin Young of NPR’s Here & Now here.

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Trump’s Strong-Arming Jeb Bush Donor Is BULLYs–t

As the dustupping staff noted yesterday, Donald Trump mouthpiece Alan Garten sent a cease-and-desist letter to Jeb Bush mega-donor Mike Fernandez threatening legal action if he published this ad calling Trump a BULLYionaire.


mikes ad


Regardless, the ad did run in the Miami Herald last Sunday according to the Daily Mail, with more supposed to come this weekend.

But first, some blowback on the blowhard.

Via Politico:


Trump’s threat to sue Bush donor backfires

Complaint to FEC faults Trump for using a company lawyer for campaign work.

Donald Trump’s threats to sue just sparked a bigger legal fight.

Charlie Spies, the Republican campaign-finance whiz who counsels PACs supporting Jeb Bush, is alleging that Trump illegally mixed business and politics when his corporate attorney warned the billionaire’s opponents that attack ads could trigger defamation lawsuits. The claim comes in a complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission that was obtained exclusively by POLITICO.

Spies is “alleging that Trump crossed a line by using corporate resources to do his campaign’s ‘dirty work.'”

Undeterred, the GOP Hair Apparent has responded thusly:

“The Trump Organization has vigorously policed Mr. Trump’s brand and business interests for many years. Those rights are not forfeited by virtue of Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Going forward, the company will continue to zealously protect Mr. Trump’s brand and business interests wherever and whenever necessary. This is in no way any form of campaign activity and does not run afoul of federal election laws.”

Afoul, as it happens, is exactly the word we’d apply to the whole Trumpa lumpa going on here.

More to comepa lumpa, no doubt.

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Can ‘BULLYionaire’ Donald Trump Bully Jeb Bush Mega-Donor?

It’s no secret that the Republican establishment (and their Goon Squad of PACmen) is afraid to attack Donald Trump, in spite of his increasingly hair-brained pronouncements.

Except for Mike Fernandez.

The drama started to unfold in Politico a few days ago.

Bush’s biggest donor: Trump a ‘bullyionaire’

Fernandez calls Trump a ‘hater’ and ‘BULLYionaire.’


Calling Donald Trump “a hater” and a “narcissistic BULLYionaire,” Jeb Bush’s biggest donor has decided on his own to take out full page ads trashing the Republican poll leader in newspapers in Miami, Las Vegas and Des Moines.

Mike Fernandez, a billionaire who has contributed more than $3 million to elect Bush, announced his decision Friday after a CNN poll showed Trump dominating the GOP field with 36 percent of the vote while Bush has fallen to 3 percent.

Fernandez said he decided to make the ads on his own out of frustration with Trump and his supporters, whom he describes as “a segment of the electorate who have come to think of Trump as a god, when in fact he is worse than the devil himself.”


The ad:


mikes ad


Actually readable version here.

As the Daily Mail Online reported: “Mike Fernandez paid for the advert to be run in The Miami Herald [on Sunday] and it will also be printed in Des Moines and Las Vegas on December 14.”

Of course, no way the GOP Hair Apparent would take that, er, lying down.

Via Mediaite:

Donald Trump Threatens to Sue Top Jeb Bush Donor Over Negative Ads

PicMonkey-Collage-TrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump threatened to sue one of Jeb Bush‘s top donors for buying newspaper ads attacking Trump as a “hater” and bully.

Florida billionaire Mike Fernandez announced last week that he planned to buy full-page ads denouncing Trump as a hateful demagogue and comparing him to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. A few days later, Fernandez received a letter from Trump lawyer Alan Garten threatening legal action if the ads were published.

Said threat: “Please be advised that in the event your ads contain any false, misleading, defamatory, inaccurate or otherwise tortious statements or representations concerning Mr. Trump, his business or his brand, we will not hesitate to seek immediate legal action to prevent such distribution and hold you jointly and severally liable to the fullest extent of the law…”

That’s where it stands as of Tuesday night.

Stay tuned . . .

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GOP Prez Hopefuls in Pickup Truck Race to Bottom

The terrorist attacks on Paris earlier this month have unleashed a predictable raft of TV spots from Republican presidential candidates trying to out-tough each other on homeland security.

The common denominator? Terrorists with rocket launchers in pickup trucks.

That image is mentioned no less than three times in Nick Corasaniti’s New York Times piece over the weekend.

Paris Attacks Darken Tone of G.O.P. Campaign Ads


The terrorist attacks in Paris immediately changed the course of the presidential race as national security and foreign policy rose to the top of stump speeches and television interviews.

Now, the campaigns and outside groups are starting to feel comfortable running political advertisements about the attacks, darkening the holiday-season tone of commercial breaks in early voting states with messages tinged with fear and images of terrorist camps and Islamic State recruits.

It is a delicate line, one that the campaigns are aware of as they navigate politicizing a tragedy. But in a Republican race dominated by two outsider candidates, Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson, a tragedy like the attacks in Paris is giving candidates who have experience in public office an opening to highlight their national security credentials.

Call the roll, starting with low-energy, high-spending Jeb Bush.

The first ad that Right to Rise USA, the “super PAC” supporting Jeb Bush, released after the attacks featured an amped-up candidate speaking at the Citadel military college in South Carolina, declaring, “We are at war with radical Islamic terrorism.” The ad occasionally cut from footage of the speech to images of terrorists with rocket launchers in the back of pickup trucks.

Here’s the spot:



And here’s a screenshot of said pickup trucks.


Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.41.17 AM


Next up is Gov. John Kasich (R-Blackeye State): “The campaign of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio mirrored that approach, using a speech he gave the day after the Paris attacks and overlaying it with news footage of terrorist camps and Toyota pickup trucks with heavy artillery guns in the flatbed. The ad was titled “For Strength. For Us.”

And here it is:



Pickup truck index:At least six.


Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.41.14 PM


Last but certainly not least, Carly Fiorina.

Carly for America, the super PAC supporting Carly Fiorina’s candidacy, produced an online-only ad running more than two minutes that features hazy clips of terrorists shooting machine guns from the back of a pickup truck.

Again, the spot:



Pickup truck index: A paltry one.


Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.47.14 PM


Regardless, here’s guessing some of the other GOP candidates will pick up from there.

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Presidential Snapchat(ter) and Instagram(mar) Edition

It’s official: The presidential race is going mobile.

Dustup 2016 Certified Musical Interlude™



Okay then.

So . . . to the business at hand.

Via Shane Goldmacher at Politico:

Snapchat makes play for political ad revenue

The social-media company says its users are not only young, but likely to vote. Here’s the data.


Snapchat wants a share of the millions of dollars that will be spent in political advertising in 2016. And according to data shared with POLITICO, the company has a case to make: two-thirds of the millions of millennials who use Snapchat are likely to vote.

“Younger people are not only on Snapchat but young people who are on Snapchat are interested in the election, are engaged in politics and have a high likelihood to vote,” said Rob Saliterman, head of political ad sales for Snapchat.

Are they nuts? graf:

Many of the 2016 candidates are already using the service to post short behind-the-scenes videos of life on the campaign trail. Only Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush, among those invited to the last debate, don’t have their own accounts.

Meanwhile, just about every presidential candidate has flocked to Instagram.

From Paul Singer at USA Today:

An Instagram scrapbook of the 2016 campaign so far

Since Election Day 2016 is exactly one year off, we offer a brief history of the presidential campaign as told through Instagram pics.

Representative samples:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 1.16.31 AM


Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 1.16.57 AM


That’s all well and good. But the real InstagraMaster is Donald Trump, who is perfectly suited for mobile media since he has the mind of a 14-year-old.


Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 1.19.53 AM


To recap: Trump is the King of Instagram but the Chump of Snapchat.

Sounds about right.

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Ads ‘n’ Ends From the GOP Presidential Bakeoff

In the interest of full disclosure, we should state right off that the dustupping staff dipped in and out of last night’s Republican Presidential Pillowfight on the Fox Business network, mostly because it was mostly boring.

But that certainly won’t keep us from itemizing a few deductions . . .

Item: Sen. Lindsey Graham was – and wasn’t – at the debate

Poor Lindsey Graham. The senior senator from South Carolina couldn’t even make the kids table debate last night in Milwaukee. So the Super PAC supporting him, Security Is Strength, ran an ad pointing out that Graham is the only military veteran in the GOP presidential field, and he was excluded from both debates held on the eve of Veterans Day.



But Greenville Online reports that Graham fought back by answering the Fox Business debate questions on Sidewire, whatever that is.

Good luck with that, Senator.

Item: Sen. Elizabeth Warren was – and wasn’t – at the debate too

Via Lauren Dezenski’s Politico Massachusetts Playbook:

“The American Action Network today is launching a $500,000 ad campaign against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren,” according to AAN. “The ad features both Elizabeth Warren and CFPB director Richard Cordray on red party banners and visualizes the consequences of CFPB’s reckless regulations issued under the guise of protecting consumers.” The national ad will air seven times on Fox Business tonight, including during the debate.


Here’s the ad.



And here’s how it “features both Elizabeth Warren and CFPB director Richard Cordray on red party banners.”


Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.46.01 AM


Not to get technical about it, but the average viewer would barely see the two and most likely never recognize them.

AAN needs to get out of doors every once in a while.

Item: Donald Trump was – and wasn’t – at the debate, two

For the second debate in a row, the GOP Hair Apparent was largely AWOL.

From Fox News:

[T]he big takeaway: What happened to Donald Trump? Aside from a swipe at Fiorina for interrupting, he wasn’t his usual bad-boy self.

Two possibilities:

1) Trump thinks he needs to be more statesmanlike to win the Republican presidential nomination.

2) Trump is just bored with the whole thing and is ready to move on.

Lots of folks are rooting for #2.

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Presidential Ad Flashbacks (1956 Adlai-Ike Rematch Edition)

Among the greatest headscratchers in American history (How did George Custer think he was gonna win the Battle of Little Bighorn? . . . Why did Grady Little leave Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS? . . . What the hell is Chris Matthews talking about?) is this:

Why in the world did the Democratic Party make Adlai Stevenson its 1956 presidential nominee, given how badly Dwight Eisenhower had blowtorched him in 1952?

1952 electoral map (via The American Presidency Project):




Final electoral tally: Eisenhower 442 (83.2%), Stevenson 89 (16.8%).

(Notice the semi-solid South, which would soon enough turn red.)

So how did Stevenson get a mulligan?

From History Today:

Over the next four years, Stevenson was the country’s leading Democrat. Intelligent, civilized and sophisticated, he was a witty and stylish speaker and the darling of Democratic intellectuals. It was entirely typical of him to say that ‘the hardest thing about 452px-Adlai_Stevenson_1952_campaign_posterany political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.’ When 1956 came, Senator [Estes] Kefauver started campaigning with a flourish, winning the Democratic primaries in New Hampshire and Minnesota, but then Stevenson bestirred himself. He took the crucial state of California handsomely and in July Kefauver withdrew from the contest and announced his support for Stevenson. At the convention Governor Stevenson’s candidature was moved by Senator John F. Ken­nedy of Massachusetts.

Former president Harry Truman was unmoved, saying Stevenson was “too defeatist to win.” In the end he was right.

But in the meantime, Stevenson’s 1956 TV commercials in the presidential bakeoff were a bit of a crisscross from Eisenhower’s 1952 spots. (Tip o’ the pixel to The Living Room Candidate.)

In ’52, Ike’s campaign ran an ad about The Man from Abilene. So Stevenson 2.0 came back with spots about The Man from Libertyville.



Similarly, in 1952 there was this series of Eisenhower Answers America spots:



Four years later, Stevenson ran a series of response ads asking, “How’s That Again, General?” Representative sample:



How’d that work again, Adlai?




Final electoral tally: Eisenhower 457 (86.1%), Stevenson 73 (13.7%).

In other words, an even worse beatdown than in ’52.

Blessedly, there was no Adlai 3.0.

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To Know Trump (All Bagel and No Schmear Edition)

What a difference a Tslump makes.

One month ago, GOP Hair Apparent Donald Trump was bragging that he didn’t need advertising to fuel his presidential run because “I’m getting so much coverage. It would almost be — you’d OD on Trump. You understand. That’s overdose on Trump.”

Now, as Trump’s poll numbers come back to earth, he’s singing a different tune.



Via ABC’s The Note:

LISTEN TO DONALD TRUMP’S FIRST RADIO ADS OF 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump is releasing his first radio ads of the 2016 campaign, ABC’s RYAN STRUYK reports. “If the people of Iowa vote for me, you’ll never be disappointed,” Trump says in an ad first played this morning on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. “My opponents have no experience in creating jobs or making deals,” he says in the 60-second ad. “Obamacare is a total disaster. It will be repealed and replaced with something much better.” The ads repeat several of Trump’s classic lines from the campaign trail. They will start airing today in early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The buy is for $300,000.

As per usual with Trump, the ads are all bagel and no schmear.

(If you click on the link above, you can hear Trump’s other radio spot.)

Expect more of the same in the weeks to come.

Special Trump Stump Bonus

Turns out @realdonaldtrump has an unreal doppelgänger.

Via NBC’s The Trail Tapes.



Hard to know who’s sadder: RealDonaldTrump or UnrealDonaldTrump.

Photo finish, yeah?

Probably a selfie.

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