Donald Trump exaggerate something? Really? Who’d a thunk it? During Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’s Face the Nation, GOP pollster and messaging expert Frank Luntz stated that Trump’s claim that he received the biggest standing ovation at the Family Leadership Summit this weekend was pretty much bullshit. Luntz, who moderated the forum on Saturday when The Donald said that John McCain is “not a war hero,” pointed out that all the GOP candidates that attended received standing ovations from the crowd, and the majority of the others were far more enthusiastic and loud.
In defending his comments about McCain’s service during the Vietnam War, Trump has claimed that the crowd gathered in Iowa loved him so much that they gave him a HUGE standing ovation. Apparently, this is justification in Trump’s eyes, as it means that the people have decided that he didn’t make a mistake. However, Luntz told host John Dickerson that maybe only 60% of the people stood up when he was done, so while it was accurate to say he received a standing O, there were a lot of people there who were not impressed by the real estate mogul turned wannabe White House occupant.
DICKERSON: That was yesterday at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit.
Joining us now is Frank Luntz, who is a Republican pollster and a CBS News analyst. He also moderated that event in Des Moines, which is where he is this morning.
Frank, was that a turning point for the Trump campaign?
FRANK LUNTZ, FOUNDER, LUNTZ GLOBAL: It will be a turning point depending on what he does over the next 24 hours.
I have already had the opportunity to reach out to two separate veterans organizations, one of them a POW organization. And they have told me that they believe that this will be significant. The idea of distinguishing veterans who were captured vs. those that weren’t is offensive to them. And they feel that Donald Trump owes John McCain an apology.
This is a big deal because it demonstrates character. It demonstrates judgment. Up until this point, that exchange was because I was asking him questions about the words that he was using and whether they were proper for a presidential candidate.
But that exchange suggested that he really doesn’t appreciate the significance of being a POW and what that means in American society.
DICKERSON: Frank, when he was done — when you were done with your interview, he got a standing ovation. And so I would like you to separate for us the difference between the way voters in the Republican base may think about Donald Trump and the way elites in the party and the press may think about him. Why did he get a standing ovation?
LUNTZ: Well, first off, all 10 presidential candidates got a standing ovation. Second is that only about 60 percent of that room stood for him. The standing ovations for Ted Cruz, for Scott Walker, for Marco Rubio, the standing ovations for Mike Huckabee — I could go through all of them, Bobby Jindal — were far more enthusiastic than the one for Donald Trump.
So, yes, he’s being accurate. But that’s not actually what happened. Second is that he does speak straight. He says it the way it is. And the American people are desperate. Beyond someone who is honest and accountable, the number two attribute that the American people are looking for — and I do apologize — my voice is gone from four hours of questioning these people.
The number two attribute is someone who says what they mean and means what they say. And Trump does do that. And his language is very powerful for the disaffected voter. But you still have to ask the question, is this the kind of civility, is this the kind of decency…
DICKERSON: All right, Frank.
LUNTZ: … is the kind of language that builds a good electoral process?
Beyond the McCain comments, one other reason the attendees may not have warmed up that much to the Trumpster is due to the fact that the majority of them identify as Christian conservatives. Not only did the draft-dodging Trump besmirch a Vietnam POW’s service to his country but he used quite a bit of questionable language on the stage. He’s also a man who has been married three times now and seemed to not really understand that he was supposed to be appealing to the religious base of the Republican Party during his appearance. Many came away completely turned off by Trump’s behavior, even if they wanted to love him because he’s a rich racist asshole.
Below is video of the exchange, courtesy of CBS News: