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US Presidential Election Donald Trump Political Advertising

How Donald Trump continues to entrance the media and seize the news cycle

By Matt Spector, Advisor

March 3, 2016 | 4 min read

Now we recover from the Super Tuesday results: it appears it will be a long and colorful slog to the convention in Cleveland for the Republican Party. Across the aisle, a more stable path for a confident and nearly unified Democratic Party set to affirm a diverse and inclusive coalition.

Yet Trump’s victory speech – the live feed which savvily cut into most east coast outlets’ 10:00 p.m. evening newscasts – looked more like a coronation. Flanked by a line of presidential-looking American flags and a meme-worthy governor Chris Christie, Trump already began to dial back some of his most painful and potent claims, and picked fights with a new swath of combatants. It is this pettiness that Cruz, Rubio and Kasich will continue to struggle to contain in the Fox News debate Thursday and into Saturday’s primary contests.

Yet Trump’s personal foibles continue to entrance the media. The smallest, most insignificant news item becomes a blight on the house of Trump and, more generally, the face of the nation. Devoid of facts and pure id, the Donald brandishes rhetorical capability as a cudgel. He is a candidate who despite the crushing realities of a still-contested primary fight, still finds time to quibble with Forbes over the precise value of his net worth. Trump challenged the most recent Forbes ranking of the world’s wealthiest, arguing: “They know nothing about my wealth and very little of my iconic assets, many of which are the finest of their kind in the world."

Growing up in New Jersey, and splitting time between the suburbs of Essex County, the gilded byways of Atlantic City and the Philadelphia-leaning hamlets in between, I saw firsthand what Trump’s promise meant for workers and real people. It wasn’t good, and now that Trump and his fellow tycoons have nearly left Atlantic City altogether, the future of the city and its ilk do not look as rosy. Trump took generations of history of good people doing good work in a fine resort town, applied his unique mix of cronyism and dealmaking, and brought a city to its knees. It has not recovered, and it is clear the same could and would happen to the nation writ large.

On Jersey, to note: Christie hails from my hometown – we frequent the same vaunted diner. The Progresso ads that feature Vineland, New Jersey, the state’s “most redneck” vista, weave a bucolic story that stretches far beyond the truth.

Through Trump’s bluster he speaks to a down-and-out American working class, a cohort that, tired of losing and the slow rebound from 2008, expresses its populist anger by seizing federal lands and physically expressing nationalistic fervor. Trump spins opinion and bloviation into gold; he speaks to an almost animalistic human truth: winning feels good, and Trump is a winner. The greatest fear this month and beyond is that he moves onward to capture senator Sanders’ supporters, Bernie bros and all; the year of rage becomes the year that crushes centrism.

In the months ahead, the Democrats must look to circumvent Trump’s inexorable rise and speak directly to Americans’ better angels. They’ll have to get a word in edgewise – Trump can fill the airwaves with ease and seize an entire news cycle with a well-timed jab. We are in for a long ride.

Matt Spector is the principal of, an advisory to UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF and social change organizations and brands. Formerly of Havas and the change agency SS+K, he tweets @mspec

US Presidential Election Donald Trump Political Advertising

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