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Trump Kept His 'I' on GOP Debate with 131 Self-Mentions

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There’s no “I” in team – but, there is one in presidential politics. Just ask GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. He talked about himself more than twice as many times as any other contender in the Aug. 6 Republican debate.

In all, Trump referred to himself 131 times in the slightly more-then-two-hour debate. That means Trump mentioned himself at an epic rate of more than 11 times per minute. “The Donald” self-referenced by using pronouns in some form – “I,” “me,” twice as often as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was a distant second with 63 self-mentions.

Trump got the ball rolling right away, talking about himself. When moderator Bret Baier asked if every one of the candidates would support the GOP winner, Trump answered using “I” or “me” more than a dozen times:

“I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.”

Counting brief comments at the beginning and end, Trump mentioned himself 18 times just answering that one question. Trump minimized that self-description only once, in his closing statement, when he talked about himself just once.

Bush began in similar fashion, but tailed off quickly. Answering a question from Baier about “dynastic politics,” Bush deployed forms of the Royal We 16 times. “Absolutely, I do, and I’m gonna run hard, run with heart, and run to win. I’m gonna have to earn this. Maybe the barrier — the bar’s even higher for me. That’s fine. I’ve got a record in Florida. I’m proud of my dad, and I’m certainly proud of my brother. In Florida, they called me Jeb, because I earned it.”

Bush was second in total mentions, but also second in time. He was behind both Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in mentions per minute.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee landed far at the other end of the scale. Huckabee mentioned himself so rarely that he barely cracked double digits for total citations, with a mere 10. That was less than a third of the second-lowest total, Dr. Ben Carson.

Huckabee went out of his way to use plural terms. “It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick,” he said.

President Barack Obama has come under similar criticism for his repeated use of the word “I” in speeches. It has remained a theme for his speeches as his presidency has continued.

Methodology: Using a transcript of the debate from Time.com, every mention of “I,” “me,” contractions and possessive pronouns was tallied for the Aug. 6 main GOP debate. The three mentions of “Trump,” where he discusses others calling his name and Jeb Bush’s use of “Jeb” were also counted.

There’s no “I” in team – but, there is one in presidential politics. Just ask GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. He talked about himself more than twice as many times as any other contender in the Aug. 6 Republican debate.

In all, Trump referred to himself 131 times in the slightly more-then-two-hour debate. That means Trump mentioned himself at a rate of more than 11 times per minute. That means “The Donald” self-referenced by using pronouns in some form – “I,” “me,” – at an epic rate. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a distant second with 63 self-mentions.

Trump got the ball rolling right away, talking about himself. When moderator Bret Baier asked if every one of the candidates would support the GOP winner, Trump answered using “I” or “me” more than a dozen times:

“I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.”

Counting brief comments at the beginning and end, Trump mentioned himself 18 times just answering that one question. Trump minimized that self-description only once, in his closing statement, when he talked about himself just once.

Bush began in similar fashion, but tailed off quickly. Answering a question from Baier about “dynastic politics,” Bush deployed forms of the Royal We 16 times. “Absolutely, I do, and I’m gonna run hard, run with heart, and run to win. I’m gonna have to earn this. Maybe the barrier — the bar’s even higher for me. That’s fine. I’ve got a record in Florida. I’m proud of my dad, and I’m certainly proud of my brother. In Florida, they called me Jeb, because I earned it.”

Bush was second in total mentions, but also second in time. He was behind both Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in mentions per minute.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee landed far at the other end of the scale. Huckabee mentioned himself so rarely that he barely cracked double digits for total citations, with a mere 10. That was less than a third of the second-lowest total, Dr. Ben Carson.

Huckabee went out of his way to use plural terms. “It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick,” he said.

President Barack Obama has come under similar criticism for his repeated use of the word “I” in speeches. It has remained a theme for his speeches as his presidency has continued.

Methodology: Using a transcript of the debate from Time.com, every mention of “I,” “me,” contractions and possessive pronouns was tallied for the Aug. 6 main GOP debate. The three mentions of “Trump,” where he discusses others calling his name and Jeb Bush’s use of “Jeb” were also counted.

GOP Candidates On Me, Myself and I

Rank

Candidate

Mentions

Time*

Mentions/Per Minute

1

Donald Trump

131

11:14

     11.67

2

Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush

64

8:48

       7.28

3

Sen. Rand Paul

47

5:28

       8.60

4

Gov. Scott Walker

46

5:45

       8.00

4 (tie)

Gov. John Kasich

46

6:52

       6.70

6

Gov. Chris Christie

39

6:24

       6.10

6 (tie)

Sen. Marco Rubio

39

6:49

       5.73

8

Sen. Ted Cruz

37

6:46

       5.47

9

Dr. Ben Carson

33

6:46

       4.88

10

Fmr Gov. Mike Huckabee

10

6:42

       1.50

*Time tally per New York Times

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