Column: A Completely Non-Political Take on Republican Trash Talk

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Madison, Ala.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

This election season, the GOP primary has created a political drama blending elements of “House of Cards” with “Duck Dynasty” and “Yo Mamma.”

From an entertainment perspective, something about it is definitely working. About 16.8 million people tuned into the most recent Fox News debate in Detroit, while the Democrats are getting only about 9.2 million on average per debate, according to a Nielsen report.

“Good evening and welcome to the fabulous Fox theater in Downtown Detroit!” moderator Megyn Kelly said, in a tone eerily reminiscent of the pink-haired lady from “The Hunger Games.”

Glamour and cheers brings us in almost immediately to our star Donald Trump, a literal reality TV veteran coming directly off an eleven-year reign as host of “The Apprentice.” Trump’s style, described alternately as ‘tell-it-like-is’ and ‘middle-school-gym-class,’ has come to dominate this season.

Also present were three candidates who are not Donald Trump and some talk about ‘the issues,’ but the 7-million-viewer difference between the Republican and Democrat fields is very likely connected to Trump’s infotainment innovation.

So for those 7 million, this analysis focuses specifically on the trash talk element:

Big Don and Little Marco

The Marco Rubio-Donald Trump rivalry was at the forefront.

The first question asked to a person who was not Donald Trump came to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Moderator Brett Baier pointed out that Rubio had previously criticized Trump for childish insults, but more recently Rubio himself had implied Trump wet himself after a previous debate.

“We are not going to turn over the conservative movement or the party of Lincoln and Reagan…to someone who thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band,” Rubio said.

Trump responded to this with a few low guttural sounds that closely resembled a moo.

Childish insults were a recurring motif, as were attempts to appear ‘above’ making such childish insults.

Rubio had previously made jabs at Trump’s hands being small (which Trump is apparently very sensitive about), and Trump repeadetely called Marco “little guy.”

After one question was asked of Trump, Rubio said, “Let’s see if he answers it.”

“Don’t worry about it Marco, I will. Don’t worry about it Little Marco,” Trump said.

“Well, let’s hear about it Big Don,” Rubio said.

After some more back and forth, moderator Chris Wallace said with exasperation, “Gentleman, you got to do better than this.”

Of course, “Little Marco and Big Don” is nothing compared to “Little Donald,” who Trump insists is definitely not little.

Donald Trump’s Penis

“He (Rubio) hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I’ve never heard that one. Look at these hands [raises hands]. Do these look like small hands? “ Trump said, then continued:

“He also said that, if those are small, something else must be small. There’s no problem there I guarantee you. Alright.”

16.8 million people saw this on national television.

Trump v Cruz

Trump later squabbled with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump repeadetely called Cruz “Lying Ted,” to contrast with his “TrusTed” slogan.

“Donald has a tenuous relationship with the truth,” Cruz said.

No fewer than four times over the course of the night did the moderators have to attempt to interrupt back and forth bickering between candidates.

Cruz took to Trump’s interruptions with a sarcastic, holier-than-thou self-confidence.

“Donald, learn not to interrupt, Donald. It’s not complicated. Count to ten, Donald.” Cruz said, and at other points, “Breathe, Donald.”

After Cruz and Trump went through this exchange twice, Rubio decided to try and break in.

“When they’re done with the yoga can I answer a question here?” Rubio said. “[Trump’s] very flexible so you never know.”

Even Megyn Kelly laughed at that last one.

And Also John Kasich was there

As the night progressed Ohio Gov. John Kasich became increasing bold to try to get airtime. Of course, “increasing lybold” for Kasich is still far more polite than the new debate standard.

All the candidates did talk about issues from time to time, but Kasich was the one closest to sticking specifically to his previous economic and defense experience. But his trash talk was severely lacking.

Kasich said his supporters have told him, “you seem to be the adult on the stage.”

That whole ‘I’m-a-mature-politician-with-qualifications’ thing is certainly a style of trash talk, but it’s nowhere near the new Trump standard.

The next Republican debate is Thursday night on CNN.


Chris McDermott is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu