Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Remember When Donald Trump Asked If Pittsburgh Was Going To Bring Back Joe Paterno, Who Was Dead?

Illustration for article titled Remember When Donald Trump Asked If Pittsburgh Was Going To Bring Back Joe Paterno, Who Was Dead?
Photo: Jeff Swenson (Getty)

When Donald Trump is dropping remarkable word-turds every single day, some of them will inevitably be lost with the passage of time. In the last two weeks alone the Big Wet President has renamed a simpering fatberg “Beautiful Ted,” and he’s asked every man in an audience of 6,000 to raise his hand and pledge, “You will never ever say your wife, your girlfriend, anybody is beautiful, right?” because he, Donald Trump, is not “allowed” to say it, before introducing his daughter Ivanka to the stage with that term. It’s impossible to keep them all in one brain without some spilling.

Let’s take a moment to remember a highlight from the campaign trail, one memory—along with cherished movie lines and the smell of your grandmother’s cooking—that fresher Trumpisms might’ve displaced from your brain. It’s April 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a state he would go on to win by a narrow margin. Trump is stumping, running hot. The lights are bright, burnishing his skin to a butternut squash hue:

Here’s a full transcript:

And we love the place, you know, we love, I—just so you understand, I went to school in this state, right, we know that, right? So, I know, I know a lot about Pennsylvania, and it’s great.

How’s Joe Paterno? We gonna bring that back? [upward hand gesture] Right? How about that whole, [consulting paper] how about that whole deal.

[sharp intake of breath, pregnant pause]

And we do love Penn State—do we love Penn State, I mean, in all fairness? We love Penn State. But we love Pittsburgh, right?


One testament to the power of Trump’s language is his ability to pneumatically compress something like “Joe Paterno,” and all his complicated baggage, into “that.”

“How’s [beloved coach who was complicit in the serial sexual abuse of children over several decades]? We gonna bring that back?” he says off-hand, before forgetting every word some five minutes later. It’s not clear if the crowd in Pittsburgh, home to the Nittany Lions’ rival, liked or hated his question. There was some distressed, muddled wailing, though everyone went right back to cheering at the next available opportunity.

Now, one could argue, as a campaign spokesperson later did, that Trump was referring to the Paterno statue that was removed in 2012, but it doesn’t make sense to ask how a statue is doing. Then again, it also doesn’t make sense to ask about how a dead guy is doing. Maybe the lesson here is to not divine some kind of deeper meaning from what Donald Trump grunts out at any given time. Just waft your hand and savor the aroma.

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