CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — What does an Al Wilson song from 1968 have to do with the current Syrian refugee crisis?
In one of his shortest campaign speeches yet (Trump’s typical hour was shortened a mere 38 minutes Tuesday night) the GOP front-runner hit all of his usual talking points with an unusually serious, professorial tone — and also managed to answer that question.
In what could be read as a rhetorical counter to President Obama’s eloquent speaking style and often-anecdotal way of presenting policies to voters, Trump employed a never-before-seen tactic on the trail Tuesday evening: A dramatic reading, glasses and all, of Al Wilson’s "The Snake."
The song, which has an old-school R&B beat, paints a picture of a trusting woman (read: America) who invites a snake into her home, saving him from freezing. Ultimately, as she “clutched him to her bosom" he bites her.
When she asks why he did that after all she’d done for him, the "vicious" reptile replies "oh shut up silly woman ... you knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."
Upon finishing the recitation, the crowd cheered. “That’s right!” one man cried out.
“Does that make sense?” Trump asked the clapping crowd of about 1,000 people gathered in the University of Northern Iowa gymnasium. “Hopefully that’s not gonna be the case,” he said, referencing the controversial decision of whether or not to take Syrian refugees into the country.
During what some called Trump’s personal pre-buttal to the State of the Union, his attacks on the president were mostly standard. He called out incompetence among the ranks of America’s leaders, especially in regards to the Iran Deal, which Trump views as a harbinger for situations like the one in which Iran held two small Navy boats carrying 10 U.S. sailors earlier Tuesday.
Trump even joked that he might not watch the State of the Union, but quickly did an about face, saying that he had to watch in order to see "what the hell’s going on because he [Obama] doesn’t know, so somebody has to."
While he went after Ted Cruz for questions about his natural born citizenship, he lacked his signature bombastic flair, instead explaining that he’s raising these questions “for the party” and “for Ted” not so that he can win “on a technicality.”
He did, however, reassure that these questions about Cruz were a “big, big factor” and should be taken seriously.
In a departure from his prior pleas to Iowans to register and remember to vote on February 1st, Trump didn’t ask for votes on this single-digit temp night Iowa Tuesday night.
Instead, he made a case for his electability, based on the fact that he’s leading decisively everywhere but Iowa and that if he wins there, "I think we’re gonna run the table."