Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What's Donald Trump like in private?

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter who's been following Trump on the campaign trail for months, tells what she's observed of him, in an interview with WaPo's "The Fix":

FIX: Does Trump treat the press corps any differently off camera than he does on camera? Or does he still not interact with you at all — or very little?

Johnson: We have very little interaction with him on a daily basis, but we occasionally get close. The Donald Trump you see in a small setting -- a visit to a campaign office, a quick interview backstage, a lunch stop -- is a different person than the bellowing, insult-throwing candidate you see on the rally stage. In one-on-one settings, he's charming, softer spoken and rather relatable. While his nasty, mean comments get the most attention, he's also capable of being overwhelmingly kind, almost to the point of being uncomfortably kind. I've interviewed a number of people who have spent a little bit of time with Trump -- big-name endorsers, dedicated volunteers, police officers assigned to protect him -- and all remark on how he somehow made them feel like the most important person in the world.

FIX: You’ve been covering Trump since the beginning. What’s the biggest change in him — if any — you’ve noticed?

Johnson: We've seen proof that he's human. For years, Trump has branded himself as this indefatigable super hero. While many men his age have lost their hair and retired, Trump is married to a former super model with whom he has a son who is in grade school. Trump, 69, boasts about only sleeping a few hours a night and promises to never take vacation if he's elected. Despite eating a diet of mostly fast food and soda, Trump claims to be exceptionally healthy. He has mocked former Florida governor Jeb Bush, 63, for being "low energy" and said that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, 68, is exhausted and lacking the strength and stamina needed for the job.

In December, Trump seemed to lose his voice after a marathon of campaign stops. Leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Trump at times seemed lethargic and tired. The day of the New Hampshire primary, Trump pledged to do as many as half-a-dozen campaign stops but then just briefly stopped by a couple polling locations in between television interviews. The night before the South Carolina primary, his voice was hoarse and he only spoke at his big primary-eve rally for about 30 minutes....

FIX: Finish this sentence: The single most important thing about Donald Trump that you wouldn’t pick up from just watching him on TV is ________________. Now, explain.

Johnson: He is very calculated and purposeful in what he says. Trump can seem all over the place, especially when he doesn't seem to be answering the question he was just asked in a television interview. He's purposely not answering that question, pivoting to another topic and talking over any follow-up questions from the host until he or she gives up trying to get an answer and moves on to the next question.