Reveal: Pumped On Trump

Starting Feb 2, 2016, KGNU is airing Reveal Tuesdays at 4pm. Click here for more info.

By Julia B. Chan, Reveal

We’ve heard a lot from Republican candidate Donald Trump since he announced his bid for the presidency. With his celebrity lifestyle and made-for-reality-TV personality, some people didn’t take Trump’s campaign seriously – but his polling numbers aren’t a joke, and he is seriously in the lead.

Trump is buoyed by a rising legion of supporters: people who want to help Trump make America not only great again, but “bigger, better and stronger.”

This hour of Reveal will delve into the hearts and minds of these Trump supporters. Who are they? Why do they support Trump? And if The Donald doesn’t get the Republican nomination for president, who will they turn to next – if anyone?

We sent a team of reporters and producers out to Trump events to find the answers to some of these questions. We also teamed up with the polling group YouGov to find out even more about the people who support Trump – like where they live and what issues are most important to them. Some of the results will surprise you – they surprised us.


Rallying for Trump in Sin City

Michael Augustine
Michael Augustine is a fervent Donald Trump supporter. His support is so strong that he is willing to set aside his top political issue (Hint: note his choice of greenery) to support Trump. CREDIT: Courtesy of Michael Augustine

Reporter Katharine Mieszkowski hops on a plane to Nevada to attend a Donald Trump rally at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. To experience the event the way supporters do, she made sure to stand in the eye of the storm. She navigates herself through a sea thick with Trump supporters and records what she hears there in the middle of the crowd.

You will hear tense events unfold as protesters disrupt the rally and are thrown out by security.

Afterward, Mieszkowski speaks with a down-on-his-luck supporter, who takes us into his life and explains how Trump makes him feel rich inside.


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What’s fear got to do with it?

Fran and Marv
Fran (left) and Marv Kirschner have met many of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates, but Donald Trump is their man. They say he’s captured their hearts and their vote.
CREDIT: Rachel de Leon/Reveal

Three weeks before Iowa’s presidential caucus, host Al Letson headed to the state to find out how Iowans feel about Donald Trump.

He meets Fran and Marv Kirschner, longtime residents of Mason City. Fran’s been a supporter since Trump’s first presidential bid in 2012 and tells Letson about how she and her neighbors are scared of what America’s become.

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The Trump Game – a play on words

The Trump Game
Reveal traveled to South Carolina to learn more about how Donald Trump captivates the enraptured crowds that attend his rallies. We engaged supporters with the Trump Game.
CREDIT: Julia B. Chan/Reveal

You’ve heard about the Trump card, but what about the Trump Game?

Reporter Nathan Halverson wanted to learn more about the effect Donald Trump has on his supporters, so he pulled together some sound clips and set out to record some reactions.

He traveled to South Carolina and asked Trump supporters to play the Trump Game while he recorded them. Participants chose random audio clips to play and reacted in real time to Trump’s words as they heard them. This segment reveals the common threads that are woven through different people’s responses.


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How would you respond? Play the Trump Game yourself (opens in new tab)


Standing out from the crowd at a Trump rally

Trump Rally
Donald Trump speaks at a Tea Party convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
CREDIT: Ike Sriskandarajah/Reveal

“Where are you from?” can be an earnest question. But it also can be used as a divisive political tool that plays on people’s fears of the other. Producer Ike Sriskandarajah hears this rhetoric reverberate before, during and after a Tea Party convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

He met, chatted and even rode with the Knights Templar, a motorcycle club throwing its support to Donald Trump this election season. These bikers take their name from a medieval group of holy warriors who protected Christianity. And today, they still are concerned about the threat of Islamic extremism.

He also speaks with a black conservative organizer who is working to tackle racism in her party from the inside. She’s trying to build a more diverse GOP – one that moves beyond asking the question, “Where are you from?”


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Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast.




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