Campaigning is not a natural act, even for people who have been in the public eye for years. So here is one easy rule of politics: When a candidate with some ability does something over and over and over again, he gets better at it. That's what is happening with Donald Trump, to the chagrin of those in his party and beyond who hope to see his campaign collapse.
A recent Trump performance at a fairgrounds in Manassas, Va., plus a number of other speeches available on video, show that Trump has become a more polished performer on the stump. Yes, he still goes on for a long time — well over an hour in Manassas. And yes, he still wanders all over the lot. But in general, Trump's campaign presentation is more focused, more polished and more powerful than it was when he began.
"We're going to have fun considering we don't have good subject matter," Trump began in Manassas. What followed was about an hour and 15 minutes of classic Trump: His wealth, his polls, his deals, his TV show, his book, etc. But at the same time, Trump managed to convey concern about a number of issues important to the voters whose support he will need not only in the Republican primaries, but in a general election.
For example, Trump appeared sincere and affecting on the problem of student loans. "It's one of the most heart-wrenching questions I get," Trump said. Describing Americans who are trying to get a college education but find themselves trapped in debt -- remember that Trump polls very highly with those who don't have a degree -- Trump conveyed empathy and a determination to fix things (while of course offering no specifics on how he'd do it). "Just about the only thing the federal government makes money with is student loans," he said. "Maybe that's the only thing it shouldn't be making money with."