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6 things Trump says at his rallies and what they really mean

Former President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at Turning Point Action's "The People's Convention" on June 15, 2024, in Detroit, Mich.
Bill Pugliano
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Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at Turning Point Action's "The People's Convention" on June 15, 2024, in Detroit, Mich.

Former President Donald Trump loves acronyms, but his catchphrases have become increasingly varied. These new slogans often package massive policy proposals and talking points into a couple of words — and Trump often uses them with little context.

These sayings offer a glimpse into the former president’s goals and priorities this election year.

Here are six of Trump’s most common catchphrases and where they come from:

Too Big to Rig

Trump still falsely maintains that Democrats stole the presidential election in 2020 through voter fraud. However, Trump is now promoting mail-in ballots and voter registration, both of which he criticized Democrats for in 2020, in order to make his margins “Too Big to Rig.”

Trump lost the 2020 election in margins in the thousands in several crucial swing states, but he believes that Democrats cannot “rig” the 2024 election if enough Republicans show up to the ballot box in November. Proven instances of election fraud are rare in U.S. elections.

The “Too Big to Rig” phrase now takes up prime real estate on political signs at Trump’s rallies, a reminder to his fiercely loyal supporters of the importance of voting.

A supporter waves a sign in support of Former President Donald Trump at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, June 6, 2024.
Caitlin O'Hara for NPR /
A supporter waves a sign in support of Former President Donald Trump at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

Swamp the Vote

Used in conjunction with “Too Big to Rig,” “Swamp the Vote” calls for Trump supporters to vote en masse.

The initiative, officially titled Swamp the Vote USA, encourages voters to vote absentee, by mail, early in person, or on Election Day.

“If we swamp them, they can’t cheat, it just doesn’t work out,” Trump said in a June 4 video posted to his account on Truth Social, Trump’s social media website.

“Swamp” is a particularly notorious term for Trump, who ran in 2016 on the campaign promise of “Draining the Swamp” of special interests in the federal government. The word in a political context often references the belief that Washington is corruptwith old money, lobbying and term-limit schemes.

Drill, Baby, Drill

Trump did not invent this term, but he has started to revive its relevance in recent months. Former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin popularized “Drill, Baby, Drill” on the 2008 campaign trail with her then-running mate, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, as a way to promote pro-oil drilling and fracking policies.

Trump has started to use the term more frequently in public appearances, but his use dates back to at least 2022. Trump claims that if elected, he will cut energy prices in half, doing so through expanding domestic fracking and oil measures.

However, companies set production levels based on market forces, not presidential orders. Efforts to influence production are not guaranteed to succeed: Trump tried and failed to prop up the U.S. coal industry for example.

No Tax on Tips

Trump announced at a June 9 rally that if reelected president, he would attempt to end taxes on tips for those in the service industry. “Those people that have jobs in restaurants, whatever the job may be, a tipping job, we’re not going after for taxes anymore,” Trump said at the rally.

Service workers are required by federal law to report tip earnings on their tax forms, which are then taxed as normal income. Trump would need Congress to act in order to change the practice.

Trump has since made several posts on Truth Social with the moniker.

Never Surrender

Trump has faced numerous inquiries, trials and criminal probes, ranging from the Jan. 6 insurrection to hush money to the alleged mishandling of classified documents. In each case, Trump maintains that he is not guilty, but he was recently convicted on 34 felony counts by a jury in his New York hush money trial.

Trump falsely claims that these trials are a “witch hunt” by the Biden administration. While the Justice Department oversees the Jan. 6 and classified documents cases, state justice officials handle the others. In the federal cases, the Justice Department maintains its independence from the White House.

“Never Surrender” comes from the idea that Trump will not surrender, either in court or metaphorically, to his political adversaries. Trump has vowed to not let these trials drag him down, instead making them a cornerstone of his reelection campaign.

The phrase occupies an entire themed section on his web store, complete with greyscale T-shirts, mugs and hats, many of which showcase his mugshot from his indictment in the Georgia election case.

A "never surrender" Trump poster and an American flag are waved in front of Federal Court on May 30, 2024, in New York.
David Dee Delgado / Getty Images
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Getty Images
A "never surrender" Trump poster and an American flag are waved in front of Federal Court on May 30, 2024, in New York.

Make America Greater than Ever Before

Trump forever altered the political landscape of the modern Republican party during the 2016 election with the renaissance of the Reagan-era trademark slogan “Make America Great Again" (MAGA), which Trump still uses in spades. However, the phrase also includes an important tail-end that has appeared since 2016.

Trump often ends promotional videos and appearances by saying “Make America Greater than Ever Before.” “Again” marks a return to a past standard, while “ever before” implies reaching new heights. With this phrase, Trump wants to convince voters that a second presidential term would usher in a level of social and economic prosperity that America has never seen.

It is certainly the case that Trump has more material to pull from than “ever before.”

Copyright 2024 NPR

Clayton Kincade
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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