WEST DES MOINES, Iowa—At the Evangelical Free Church on Fuller Road, Donald Trump, Jr. and his wife, Vanessa Haydon, sat in the auditorium, which was three quarters full. He looked like Patrick Bateman, with over-gelled hair and an impeccable charcoal suit and shiny, grape-colored tie. A variation on the Donald Trump, Sr. uniform. His wife wore heavy makeup and black patent leather pumps. Her hair is a blinding shade of yellow-blonde. He had his arm around her. Hardly anyone tried to speak to them.
While he was sitting down, waiting for the Iowa caucuses to begin, I went over to talk to him.
“We’re feeling good. You know, we’ve had a really good week. We’ve had amazing time—met Iowans from all over the state, on the ground, and I’m hearing so many people saying, Hey, I’m a caucus-er, or I haven’t caucused in 20, 10, 30 years or whatever it may be, and I’m going out to support your father because we just want to see a change in a game. That really means a lot to us. It’s just been really special to be able to touch that many people and watch what my father’s done to change the dialogue of politics.”
I asked if he was proud. “Very,” he said.
Proud even though some say his dad makes statements that are hateful and bigoted? “They’re not hateful or bigoted. I mean I think people in the press exaggerated his statements, but he’s also bringing up dialogue that needs to be had. He’s having conversations that people are afraid to have. He’s not gonna be PC about it. We can’t pretend we don’t have problems in the country. If we do that, It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Towards the end of his statement, his wife began furiously tapping on his thigh to get him to wrap it up.
Then he got up to speak.
“I just want to say thank you, first and foremost to the people here in Iowa. I’ve been here for a week on the ground and while I’d love to talk about my father as a businessman, I don’t think I need to,” he said.
“The thing I’ve heard most is: I’m a first time caucuser. Or I haven’t caucused in X number of years and I’m doing it for your father because i want to see change, I’m sick of politicians who’ve been bought and paid for by their special interests, that’s why I love your father because he’s financing his own campaign, he’s coming out of his pocket, putting his money where his mouth is so you know that he’s not bought,” Trump, Jr. added. “He’s doing this relatively thankless process—this is brutal, as youve probably seen. It’s not an easy process. It’s really difficult and he’s working harder than I’ve ever seen him.”
The younger Trump continued, “While he may be the billionaire from New York, for those who’ve seen him, perhaps for those of us who have gotten to know him, I think I can say he’s much more of a blue collar guy. He’s a big collar guy with a big balance sheet but he’s a really ordinary American. He’s sick of what’s happening in this country and he wants to fix it and he’s gonna do a great job with it.”
I followed Trump, Jr. and his wife as they walked outside to get into their SUV. Their driver was waiting.
I asked what he meant by blue collar. He said, “He’s an ordinary American. He understands very well. His ideal night isn’t a black tie function. It’s having a cheeseburger and watching a football game. He gets that. He understands it. And while his image is not that, he ultimately is. He feels the pain that we’re all going through.”
I said I’d never seen him wear anything but a suit. “That’s a uniform for him,” he said. “No different. That’s what he does because he is always working.” In the end the people of Iowa didn't buy what Trump Jr. and his dad were selling.