Without question the biggest draw in the presidential primary campaign is Donald Trump. In the carnival world of politics he’s a three-ring circus by himself. Despite miss-steps that would have derailed the heartiest of campaigns, he shoulders on, leading the rest of the Republican field.
I’m not going to delve into my personal issues with Mr. Trump as a person or regarding his personal conduct (I could write several posts on that), but as I see it there are three possibilities for his candidacy:
#1 Serious Candidate
Perhaps Trump honestly (in a self-deluded way) thinks he can win the presidency. That is his ultimate purpose and goal. I started out trying to assume this, but am struggling to hold this opinion. I think it’s still a possibility, but question whether it is likely.
Trump is a savvy businessman who knows how to make a sale. He’s particularly passionate about his current product – himself. He knows how to market a product to a target demographic (in this case a segment of conservatives), and he’ll say or be whatever he has to do so. Even his supporters have to admit that he is a master at self-promotion.
Throw in the fact that The “Trump International Hotel – Washington” opens in 2016 and you have ready-made name recognition (especially with the large billboard placed strategically on Pennsylvania Avenues). The “Trump” brand is at the forefront of EVERYTHING he does, this endeavor not excepted. Don’t think Trump hasn’t calculated all of this into his actions.
I try to avoid being a conspiracy theorist at all cost, but Trump refuses to commit to not “Peroting” (or “Sarvising” if you’re from Virginia) the Republican nominee. If he runs third-party, he will (intentionally or unintentionally) draw away just enough votes to prevent the conservative candidate from winning. Or, if he wins the nomination, he alienates enough of the electorate (something he seems intent on doing) to lose, pursuing a “win the primary, lose the general” strategy.
The man has admitted to making donations to politicians in exchange for influence. What greater donation could he make to Hillary than to spoil the election? What kind of influence would he have accepted in exchange? I’m holding out hope that this is not his true intent, but the current manner in which he is dividing the party (over his interaction with Megyn Kelly) from within doesn’t help.
So, is it #1, #2, or #3? Could be any of the three. Could be all three. He could be serious, view self-promotion as a side-benefit and end up being a spoiler. And perhaps that’s his thinking – he’s got nothing to lose by running. I suspect that whether he’s #1, or #3, Trump will at heart always be #2.