ERIE, Pa. ― Kansas, West Virginia and Minnesota may be hundreds of miles apart, but in the history of America according to Donald Trump, they have much in common.
All three were settled by “tough pioneer men and strong pioneer women.”
These people “did not have a lot of money,” nor did they have “a lot of luxury” ― austere circumstances, it turns out, that they also shared with those who settled Kentucky, Iowa and Nebraska.
In reality, what all these disparate places have in common is that they were the sites of recent Donald Trump for President rallies, which are now happening in such rapid succession that Trump’s speechwriters have apparently given up trying to individualize the remarks he delivers at them.
“These courageous Pennsylvania patriots did not shed their blood, sweat, and tears so that we could sit at home while others tried to erase their legacy and destroy our great and proud American heritage,” Trump told his audience in Erie on Oct. 10.
Nor did “Ohio patriots” shed their “blood, sweat and tears,” Trump told the crowd two days later in Lebanon, “so that we could sit at home while others tried to erase their legacy and destroy our proud American heritage.”
And the following day in Lexington, Trump told that audience their ancestors had felt the same way: “These courageous Kentucky patriots did not shed their blood, sweat and tears so that we could sit at home while others try to erase their legacy and destroy our proud American heritage.”
Neither Brad Parscale, who is managing Trump’s re-election campaign, nor Stephen Miller, who wrote Trump’s speeches during his 2016 campaign and is writing his official White House speeches now, responded to HuffPost’s queries.
Of course, using a basic campaign speech day after day is not new to politics.
“While the president does like to repeat himself, his loose characterizations strike me as a typical political stump speech not unlike a concert performer who might change a word or two in the song lyrics to excite an audience,” said Rick Tyler, who worked on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
“It’s actually pretty normal,” said Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama. “Obama gave so many stumps in the month before every election that we couldn’t possibly give him new material for each stop. We’d try to add new stuff about the candidate, the local issues, and whatever was in the news that day. But usually the basic stump and especially the ending stayed the same.”
However, Trump’s recent speeches have not been coming several times a day, as they would in the closing weeks of a candidate’s own campaign, but several times a week. And the attempts to individualize them appear to go little beyond changing the name of the state.
In Erie, for instance, Trump told the thousands at the downtown hockey arena there: “Generations of Pennsylvania workers manned the furnaces, farmed the fields and fought the battles that made America into the most powerful and prosperous nation in the history of the world.”
Forty-eight hours later, at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Trump said: “Generations of Ohio workers farmed the fields, poured the incredible steel, fought the battles that made America into the most powerful and prosperous nation in the history of the world.”
And sometimes, Trump goes off script in a way that makes it clear he doesn’t really know anything about the local issues beyond what someone has written for him in the speech.
“We’re going to dredge the channel to Lake Erie. And we’re going to replenish the sand to Presque Isle,” Trump said in Erie, looking off to one side and reading from a teleprompter screen during an appearance in support of the local Republican congressman, Mike Kelly.
Seconds later, while looking straight ahead ― a sign he was no longer reading the prepared remarks ― Trump said: “Mike keeps calling, ‘Sir, we want to fix up Presque Isle.’ I said, ‘Mike, what the hell is Presque Isle?’”
That, certainly, is not the speechwriter’s fault, Tyler said. “Speechwriters can’t protect a president who insists on letting his audience know he’s an idiot,” he said.
In any event, with just three weeks to go until the midterms and Trump appearing to enjoy the rallies more than any other part of the job, the odds seem good that his audiences will be hearing a lot more about their patriotic ancestors “who did not shed their blood, sweat and tears” so their progeny today could “sit at home” while others erased their legacy and destroyed American heritage.
Next up: his fans in Missoula, Montana; Mesa, Arizona; and Elko, Nevada, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.