[Rushtalk] Run for cover, Donald Trump is really running for president

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Sun Jun 21 15:23:50 MDT 2015

Freelance journalist in the US

With the news overnight that Donald Trump will run for the Republican 
nomination for United States president, life on planet Earth just got a 
little stranger.

Pity starchy, serious Jeb Bush -- whose own presidential announcement on 
Monday has been well and truly stomped on. Unlike Jeb!, Trump needs no 
exclamation mark after his name, and in hindsight, the garish real 
estate mogul’s threats to run should have been taken more seriously this 
time. He’d formed a presidential exploratory committee. He’d hired staff 
in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He even shelved the next 
series of The Apprentice.

Still, Trump should long ago have been locked behind bars as a serial 
presidential tease. He blabbed about running in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 
and 2012. Four years ago, he built up a serious head of steam with the 
GOP base by harping on Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The taunts 
dried up when Obama unexpectedly released it -- and Trump slunk away, 
credibility in ruins, seemingly never to seek the bully pulpit again.

Now he’s back, flanked by wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, brandishing 
$8 billion of net worth and proclaiming he’ll obliterate Islamic State, 
be the “greatest jobs president God ever created” and “make America 
great again”. And he’s already headed to Iowa. Predictions are 
foolhardy, but one can safely be made. Ignore Trump’s high unfavorable 
ratings and the 59% of Republicans in a recent poll who say they’d never 
vote for him. That remaining 41% can do a lot of damage. Expect Trump -- 
with his coming blitzkrieg -- to ascend from the 5% he is currently 
polling to near the top of the splintered Republican heap. And to remain 
right through the first GOP primary debate in Cleveland on August 20 -- 
allowing him to make his case before a national audience before his 
inevitable immolation down the track.

For Republican powerbrokers, the prospect of that first debate now looms 
as a reality TV nightmare: Trump’s likely appearance the equivalent of a 
madman with a bazooka crashing the stage and making everyone else look 
sane by comparison.

Such a task is harder than it looks, with at least half the GOP field 
really running to secure a book deal or a regular segment on The Sean 
Hannity Show -- with no hope of actually winning the nomination, 
whatever their transient appeal in the race.

This season’s cast includes African-American neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 
who has described Obamacare as “the worst thing since slavery” and 
became a folk hero among conservatives after he mouthed off at President 
Barack Obama at a National Prayer Breakfast. With zero elective 
experience and a contentious tenure as Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly 
Fiorina’s sole role seems to be troll Hillary Clinton and allow the GOP 
to shove a female face on stage. The notion of Lindsey Graham as 
commander in chief is ludicrous. Rick Perry’s new glasses fool no one. 
If they weren’t running for president, Rick Santorum and George Pataki 
would probably be muttering somewhere in a public park. Governors Bobby 
Jindal (Louisiana) and John Kasich (Ohio) have credible cases -- but 
they’re late to the rodeo, and in a GOP that tends to nominate familiar, 
tested names, both lack the star power to burst through such a crowded 

That leaves seven plausible nominees, each looking to break out of the 
pack by winning one of the early nominating contests next year like Iowa 
or New Hampshire and gaining momentum for the grueling primaries that 

The best prospects for Iowa include Scott Walker, governor of 
neighbouring Wisconsin, whose grasp of foreign policy looks shaky but 
who has impressed conservatives by the unpretentious way he has taken on 
labour unions and won three successive elections. With its deeply 
evangelical electorate, Iowa is also pivotal for firebrand Texas Senator 
Ted Cruz and 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee -- anything less than a 
top-two finish in the caucuses would dash expectations and be near-fatal 
to their chances.

The second category of candidates include Bush, rambunctious New Jersey 
Governor Chris Christie and libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul -- 
all with little hope of winning Iowa, and for whom the more moderate, 
flinty state of New Hampshire is a better target. Then there is Florida 
Senator Marco Rubio -- a gifted communicator with a stirring biography 
as the son of Cuban exiles. At 44, he offers the best chance of a 
generational contrast with Hillary Clinton, the potential to steal 
Hispanic support and the must-win state of Florida in the general 
election. Yet at this early stage Rubio lacks an obvious reservoir of 
support within the GOP base. As the race unfolds, he must define himself 
better to the electorate and find primary states he can win.

Of course, what effect Donald Trump’s dramatic entry to the race has on 
these calculations is anyone’s guess. Will he train his fire on Hillary 
or reserve his juiciest spitballs for his Republican rivals? And should 
they -- terrified of his tongue --play nice and laugh along, or try to 
take him out themselves? One thing’s for sure. The GOP race was already 
shaping as a wild rollercoaster ride. Trump’s entry blows the hinges 
right off.


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