November 6, 2018

BYRON YORK: Of course Trump is talking about the economy. Who says he’s not?

A talking point has taken hold in the final hours of midterm election campaigning. The economy is booming, the story goes, but President Trump won’t talk about it at his massive rallies, preferring instead to dwell on illegal immigration, the caravan, and “fear.” Republicans, locked in tough re-election races, are tearing their hair out, panicked, at Trump’s refusal to emphasize the nation’s economic progress, which is their strongest campaign pitch.

The journalists and other political types who are repeating the talking point take as their text something Trump said Friday at a rally in Huntington, W.Va. “They all say speak about the economy, speak about the economy,” Trump told the crowd. “Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country, but sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy, right? Because we have a lot of other things to talk about.” From that flowed the assertion that Trump is not, in fact, talking about, or talking much about, the economy.

[Skipping numerous examples of talking heads parroting talking points.]

Is he focusing on illegal immigration and ignoring, or relatively ignoring, his own administration’s economic achievements? The place to look for an answer is not in the TV talk but in the videos and transcripts of the president’s actual stump speeches.

Look at three recent Trump appearances, the ones that served as the basis for all the weekend talk. First, there was Trump’s speech in Huntington, with the “not as exciting” quote that gave pundits a theme. Then there was a speech in Columbia, Missouri, and also one in Macon, Georgia.

Please see here to see how much of the Huntington speech Trump devoted to the economy and how much he devoted to illegal immigration. By my count, Trump spoke about 2,330 words on economic issues and about 1,640 words on illegal immigration. I’ve included the entire transcript, with economic passages highlighted in yellow and illegal immigration passages highlighted in blue, for you to judge for yourself.

Spoiler, the talking points are bullshit. As usual. “Add the three speeches together, and Trump spent about 5,320 words on the economy versus about 4,730 words on illegal immigration. One can think that is too much of one thing, or not enough of the other, but where is the evidence that Trump is ignoring the economy to obsess about illegal immigration?”

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