Brigitte L. Nacos
If the Republicans do not hand him the presidential nomination, he will follow the example of Ross Perot and run as an Independent. That’s Donald Trump’s latest move to put fear into the Republican establishment. After enlisting support among the Tea Party crowds by signing on to their demagoguery, he threatens to take decisive votes from any Republican nominee other than Mr. Trump himself.
To be sure, Ross Perot won a surprising 19% of the vote, when he ran against George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992. But without the Texan billionaire’s wacky ways he could have had even better results.
Trump is a master of promoting himself. He plays the media like a fiddle. Where Perot had to dig into his fortune for paid TV-infomercials, Trump dominates the free media. Day-in and day-out.
The more incendiary his rhetoric and the more nonsensical his righteous utterings, the more news and public attention Donald Trump rakes in. The real estate entrepreneur, reality show host, and socialite flirted with the presidential candidacy before. But this time around, without a dominant Republican candidate for the 2012 race in sight, he seems more engaged than in previous pre-campaign periods.
Tapping into the charge that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not qualified to be president, Trump has moved into the realm of crazy conspiracy theories at the right fringe of the Tea Party crowd and into the world of the unreal.
At first sight that seems ironic for the host of a reality show unless he simply throws his rhetorical bombs in a clever effort to revive the sliding rating numbers for his pitiful show-- if only by drawing in the “Birthers” who call the sitting president “The UsurpingpResident Obama” on their web site.
It doesn’t matter whether the talking heads in radio and television or the reporters and columnists of the print media take Donald Trump serious or not, the mere volume of the coverage he receives is mindboggling since he has not taken preliminary or semi-official steps towards the presidential candidacy as have Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney and perhaps Michele Bachmann.
A cursory review of television and radio transcripts for the last month from mid-March through mid-April (contained in the Lexis/Nexis electronic archives) reveals that Trump was far more often in the news than all other mentioned contenders for the Republican nomination. As the following list shows, Trump was the topic or appeared or was mentioned in more than 700 radio and TV segments compared to less than 400 for Romney in second place and less for the rest.
Donald Trump 708
Mitt Romney 371
Sarah Palin 358
Newt Gingrich 304
Michele Bachmann 295
Tim Pawlenty 186
Mike Huckabee 181
Haley Barbour 127