Trump Uses Intensify and Downplay Model of Persuasion

Presidential campaigns are bound to have dirt flying from both sides, especially as the election draws nearer. Even after the first presidential debate for the 2016 election, many commentators agreed that the debate was messy to say the least. While the rules of the debate were not necessarily followed, perhaps the messiest part of the presidential debate was in the social media posts that followed from the candidates and public afterwards. Donald Trump, the GOP nominee, tweeted after the debate regarding Hillary Clinton, the democratic nominee, and her revelation of one of Trump’s more sexist and patronizing past statements.

At the debate, Clinton mentioned that Trump called Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado, “Miss Piggy,” referring to her body image, and “Miss Housekeeping,” allegedly referring to her Latina background.

Trump responded with a tweet that insulted not only Machado, but Clinton as well.


Trump should not have referred to Clinton as “Crooked Hillary.” The childish name-calling hurts Trump’s credibility. Instead of using logic to try to defend himself, he turned to attacking the one who revealed him for his offensive comment.

Trump also calls Machado “disgusting,” apparently because of a “sex tape and past.” He, again, tries to defend himself by putting the object of his comment in a negative light.

This tweet is a perfect example of Hugh Rank’s Intensify and Downplay Model of Persuasion. Trump tries to intensify others “bad” instead of addressing the issue at hand: Did Trump say or not say the comments? Does he stand behind his comments? Does he think women should be called “miss piggy”? Does he think that women of a Latina background should be called “miss housekeeping”?

Trump should have used his 140 characters to attempt to defend his comment or express regret. Attacking a woman for her sex life and using childish insults only made some Twitter users respond with even more negative comments:


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If Trump wants to be perceived as a leader, he needs to practice his crisis communication strategies. In his most-recent crisis communication with the 2005 video release by the Washington Post, he did express his own regret, but he also still chose to attack his opponent for her husband’s shortcomings. This issue is so messy; it deserves another blog post for itself!

Trump’s best bet at avoiding future mistakes is to try to focus on the political issues at hand and stop trying to attack or threaten to sue anyone who brings a shortcoming of his into the lime light.


Featured photo by Michael Valdon

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