He was on Thursday's "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon"
The interview was polished, as if workshopped with political consultants
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appeared on Thursday’s episode of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” and if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought he was a veteran politician.
Fallon asked The Rock about his recent GQ cover story in which he reiterated the possibility he could one day run for president.
“Why are people making such a connection or such a big deal about this?” Fallon asked.
The 45-year-old movie star’s response, and in fact the entire interview, was polished – hitting on multiple talking points politicians would want to get to in an interview like this, as if workshopped with political consultants.
Here are the highlights:
He attacked the current President:
“A lot of people want to see a different leadership today, I’m sorry, not different, but better leadership today.”
If you want the job, you have to tell voters why you’re better than the guy who has it now. Here, The Rock hits President Donald Trump on leadership, an area he’s not doing too well. According to a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month, 56% of respondents said Trump does not have good leadership skills, including 13% of Republicans and 59% of independents.
He emphasized grassroots support:
“The surge and groundswell since (the GQ article was published) has been so amazing.”
Grassroots support in politics is something candidates and causes are always hoping for, especially today, following the populist fervor of the 2016 race. If you truly have a “groundswell” of support, that means you’re of the people, not the establishment. The Rock’s Q score, basically the Hollywood equivalent of an approval rating for politicians, except it tracks celebrity likability, is high. Henry Schafer, a spokesman for the Q Scores Company, told the New York Times in 2015, “in terms of consumer appeal, he’s in the league there with Brad Pitt,” with a score the Times described as “consistently above average.” “Apparently he’s always had a strong emotional bond with consumers,” Schafer said. And the Fast & Furious film franchise he stars in has grossed more than $1.5 billion over its lifetime, according to Box Office Mojo. People like watching The Rock.
He characterized himself as an ‘everyman’:
“I think over the years I’ve become a guy that a lot of people kind of relate to: Get up early in the morning at a ridiculous hour and go to work, and spend time with the troops, take care of my family. I love taking care of people.”
The enduring popularity of the term “beer test,” or how the candidate that voters would rather have a beer with could be more likely to win an election as shorthand to describe likeability, is evidence of how much we value the “everyman” in our politics. Being a wealthy celebrity isn’t exactly the best way to endear yourself to working class voters, but it’s possible (see: Trump, Donald). The Rock has always emphasized his upbringing and the work he’s done to get to where he is. His Instagram captions are littered with stories like how he used to steal Snickers bars when he was young, poor and hungry on his way to work out, or how one week he averaged three and a half hours of sleep because of work and travel but still made it into the gym.
He threw out a possible campaign slogan:
“More poise, less noise.”
You can often boil down successful candidacies into short, direct phrases. Think Trump’s “Make America great again” or former President Barack Obama’s “Yes we can,” something that even voters only casually paying attention to the campaign are aware of and understand. It’s got to be something that can fit on a poster or button or shirt or hat, and something that lays out why the candidate is running. “More poise, less noise” feels like The Rock making a bet that voters will be ready for a change after four years of bombast, boasts and taunts under Trump. And, it fits on a shirt.
He played coy about running:
“Three years is a long ways away, so we’ll see.”
Any good politician knows that you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. If asked whether or not you’re going to run, you have to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room.