Donald Trump has long been reported to carefully manage his campaign rallies and other appearances, even hiring actors to cheer him, going back to his announcement of his candidacy in June of 2015. In that first case, the Trump campaign paid people $50 each to show up and applaud enthusiastically for the then-candidate, as The Washington Post reported. But on Thursday night at a Trump rally in Billings, Montana, the deliberate choreographing of Trump’s audience became evident to numerous sharp-eyed Twitter users.
Numerous people following the rally on TV and posting about it on Twitter spotted a young man standing behind Trump, at a position that appears on screen to be just over Trump’s right shoulder. The as-yet unidentified man wore a green, plaid shirt and was clearly seen mouthing the word “what?” after Trump made claims about the 2016 election, particularly Trump’s puzzling assertion that “it’s harder to win” the Electoral College than the popular vote.
“Popular vote you go to three, four states and boom, boom, boom you win,” Trump said, as the man appears to say “what?” in the background. “It’s like the hundred-yard dash versus running the mile.”
At another point, a Twitter poster noticed, after Trump says, “We’ve picked up a lot of support,” the man in the plaid shirt mouths the words, “Have you?”
this was one of my favorites ‘we’ve picked up a lot of support’ plaid shirt guy ‘HAVE YOU!??’ pic.twitter.com/omM7i8zwPh— Katie Moeser (@IamKatieMoe) September 7, 2018
But as was clearly seen on video of the event, below, a young woman soon approached the man, said a few words to him, and took his position behind Trump with a smile as the man in the plaid shirt walked away.
At Trump’s Montana rally, some of his supporters seemed irritated. Some seemed unenthusiastic and even bored.— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) September 7, 2018
Is this why multiple supporters were swapped out? pic.twitter.com/NVlnK2zV19
Twitter users also commented that the audience visible on screen during the rally at 12,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark appeared bored and unresponsive to Trump’s speech, and possibly as a result, as The Huffington Post reported, “several people standing behind Trump were replaced on camera as the evening went on.” The man in the green plaid shirt was only one of those removed and replaced by cheerful-looking young women.
When you realize halfway through a Trump rally that the people in the bleachers need to be peppier and blonder. pic.twitter.com/NytEn23a9g— Susan Simpson (@TheViewFromLL2) September 7, 2018
The guy in the plaid shirt, however, quickly went viral as an online meme, thanks to his wide variety of facial expressions.
Howdy, I'm the feller that made that collage. If you can credit me it'd be sweet, thanks, glad ya dig it :)— Justin (@JustinBlevans) September 7, 2018
Not everyone on Twitter was amused by the young man’s antics. Trump supporters watching the rally on Fox News expressed their annoyance with him on the social media platform.
Keep in eye on the guy in the green plaid shirt something fishy about him , seems disgusted with what the President is saying— miss225 (@missym225) September 7, 2018
Watching Trump rally. There’s a twerp in a plaid shirt standing behind POTUS that needs his ass removed.— Steve DeWulf (@cbadwulf) September 7, 2018
The Trump supporters’ irritation apparently came from moments like those below, in which the plaid shirt guy is seen openly laughing as Trump brags about what he says are his administration’s accomplishments.
But even by the following afternoon, Twitter users were still wondering about the identity of “Plaid Shirt Guy,” who has yet to publicly come forward.