Trump, who was introduced by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, delivered a two-part homily.
First, he focused on his record of success in the business world, distinguishing himself from politicians who talk a good game but fail to deliver results. Then, he pivoted to demonstrate his kinship with the audience. He did so not by pandering on their pet issues, but by reading from a stack of annotated polling data he’d carried onto the stage. In particular, he noted the cross-tabs showing his support among evangelicals and self-described tea partiers.
The result was that, unlike other candidates, Trump wasn’t on the defensive in demonstrating his ultra-conservative bona fides. If anything, he took the “grasstops” audience to task for failing to reflect the grassroots passion that has fueled his campaign.
“His message was, ‘Your people are for me, and all you leaders ought to be for me too. You guys need to realize where your followers are, and get in line with them,’” says one prominent activist who was in the room. “And he did that by reading poll results, line by line. He is a genius when it comes to using the bandwagon effect.”