How Donald Trump Could Actually Be Useful to the Romney Campaign

Over the past couple of years, I believe that Donald Trump has generally done more to hurt the Republican party’s chances of retaking the presidency than he’s done to help them. From his mainstreaming of the Birther movement to his incessant toying with the notion that he might run for the office himself, he’s displayed a level of clownish and self-promotional behavior that the GOP could have certainly done without. Furthermore, public perception was in no way helped by the stream of Republican primary candidates who, for whatever reason, felt the need to meet with The Donald behind closed doors and receive his communal blessing.

It’s the recollection of such headlines that probably made plenty of people cringe, as I did, when learning that Donald Trump is considering putting together an Anti-Obama super PAC in preparation for the November election. One can only imagine the type of advertisements that would come out of such a project. Something tells me that they would most certainly serve as instant fodder for the mainstream news media and as punchlines for late night comedians. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of the idea, but I doubt it will come to fruition anyway.

With all that being said, I do believe that Donald Trump has something to offer to Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations. No, I’m not joking. My guess is that people within the Romney campaign agree with me, considering Mitt’s personal acceptance of Trump’s endorsement back in February, and some joint-campaigning they’ll do together starting next week.

Yes, Donald Trump has some value for Romney in this election. His talents just needs to be tapped properly.

As many pundits have pointed out over the last several months, Trump appeals to the non-political, entertainment-oriented demographic that makes up a large portion of the electorate. I’m talking about the people who bypass the national news in favor of reality shows which they watch religiously. I’m talking about the people who care far more about celebrity gossip and daytime judge shows than they do about the health of the U.S. economy and geopolitics. These are the very same people who are more likely to vote for candidates based on personalities, gut feelings or whims, rather than on merits. Sadly, they may very well be the most important voting block in our country because they are both sway-able and vast in number.

It’s a demographic that Mitt Romney is going to have a hard time courting, because he’s running against a man who’s a celebrity in his own right: President Obama. After all, Obama won the presidency in the first place based almost entirely on his larger-than-life, magnetic persona. When given the choice between Captain Charisma and the respected Vietnam war hero in 2008, that demographic pulled heavily for Obama. Romney will face the same challenge as John McCain did.

That’s where Trump comes in.

Despite both Trump and Romney being extremely accomplished businessmen, Trump has been able to achieve an important perception with the public that Mitt Romney has yet to successfully sell: His personal wealth is viewed in an admirable light.

People certainly aren’t blind to Trump’s barefaced pompousness, but they also don’t begrudge him for his wealth the way President Obama’s campaign so desperately wants Americans to begrudge Mitt Romney. For the most part, the common man admires Trump’s success, and perhaps is even inspired by him to pave their own path to prosperity. Some of that conception surely comes from the platform of Trump’s Apprentice television series, but it also comes from the way he handles himself when speaking publicly. He’s a seasoned capitalist who speaks in blunt, politically-incorrect terms and makes no apologies for his success. The public doesn’t ask him for apologies either, because with him, they get it. If Mitt Romney could somehow absorb that gift, I’m sure he would. But that’s not going to happen… at least not in the next six months.

Thus, for the entertainment-driven demographic, Trump might just be a good, informal surrogate for the Romney campaign – an Entertainment Czar for lack of a better term. It wouldn’t be all that dissimilar to how Mike Huckabee used Chuck Norris during his 2008 primary bid – a move that, in my opinion, won Huckabee the Iowa Caucus.

The difference is that Trump has a longer shelf-life than Norris because he’s an active public figure. I’d encourage him to go on Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, the network morning shows, and whatever other venues make sense, and let him dress down the president and defend Romney’s proposals in the direct, relentless way that only he can. At the very least, the people who normally don’t bother with politics (and wouldn’t give Romney himself the time of day) will listen to what he has to say. And as long as the Romney campaign doesn’t associate itself too closely with Trump, and Trump can refrain from spreading more conspiracy theories, I think the strategy has the potential to peel off a little bit of the superficial portion of the electorate that would otherwise complacently throw their hat back in with President Obama.

The interesting thing about Trump is that the media has a hard time making other people accountable for his rhetoric because he presents himself as an off-the-cuff, beholden to no one, kind of guy. This would work to Romney’s advantage.

Donald Trump’s campaign involvement, by no means, would be a game-changer come November. The affect would be marginal. Still, in perhaps the most important election of our lifetime – one that promises to be very tight – all available resources should be utilized. Donald Trump does bring certain endowments to the table. They should not go unused.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration (Computer Information Systems), and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. He is the author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, which is available through all major retailers. John lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
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  • Berryraymond

    Donald’s best chance at helping Romney would be this.   Announce to the nation that if Romney is elected that he, Donald, would hold a special lottery letting all the nations hair dressers inter for the chance to cut and style the Trumpster’s hair.  That would give us all the hair dressers possibly with the exception of those few Hollywood ones and heck that can’t be but a hand full.  I know that would not be that many voters, but packed in with the hair dressers would be many of the reality show watchers who just couldn’t miss that show, now we have a winning margin.

  • Hugo Dawggy

    BG good points!  The problem is Romney can’t sell and Romney can’t close the deal.. The proof is Romney is still polling at 50% with the country in the biggest mess since the depression..  If Romney were a strong candiate his poll numbers would be hitting 60%.

    So the conservative media can help him who can?
     The GOP sold us another Mc Cain DUD!! and people ask why we need a 3rd party!!!

  • Paul Courtney

    John:  Excellent column!  Much as I wish Trump would shut up, he doesn’t listen to me (go figure).  I think he’s hurting Rs, but you’ve figured out how he might help, and if he’s staying on the stage anyway, this could work out.  You’re seeing from an angle I would not have considered.  Thanks.

  • terry


  • Omereis

    How about a commercial were Trump points to Obama and says “You’re fired!”

  • Dave O’Connor

    Trump may be a valued asset, but he might end up being a valued liability. 
    And though we can real off the number of truly alienating associations of Obama, we must remember that those are only those his “Censors” allow us to know.  (The mendacity they’ll never touch as they’re complicit.)
    Those media militants will amplify every wart that Trumps bears – and drive them ad nauseum.
    Romney and Trump would do well to establish a symbiosis or modus viviendi; let their individual dynamics work – but in their separate worlds. Romney has a lot of popular alienation to overcome  (just because his Mr. Nice Guy won’t be trusted).  Trumps baggage is even heavier and more cumbersome.
    Think of the best way to combat an entrenched enemy; with a lighter burden; faster action and – in this case – an economy of words; well aimed.

  • Mary

    I like Donald Trump,I hope he can help the Romney campaign. Hopefully two experienced business men can take the White House back from a know nothing
    community organizer. I know both these men were born with more money that most of us will never know, but you have to be smart to keep that power and keep that ball rolling. I believe it’s time to have a business person in the White House, we have tried real Politicians for years and where has that gotten us? This I believe is a good point, Donald Trump with all his money has done a wonderful job raising his children
    along with their mothers. They are polite, that’s something you don’t see very often
    with rich spoiled kids. Don’t know much about the Romney kids but what I see they too are also very polite. I believe a persons character and associations are very important in life. My Mother always said “show me a persons friends and I’ll show you who they are” Gee, who are Obama’s friends? need I say more? Does Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright ring a bell? And of course all the Hollywood people.

  • Rick Johnson

    All I can say is they better keep Trump on a short leash. He can ‘do the stupid’ as well as Biden and at a moment’s notice, too!

    • John Daly

       Believe it or not, I think Trump will do fine if he has a specific purpose. He commands pretty much every interview I’ve seen him in. He won’t let the media drag him some place where he doesn’t want to go, and if he understands that it’s counterproductive to go back to the conspiracy stuff, he won’t.

  • cmacrider

    While I do not disagree with your thesis, I think it raises a larger issue  — why does Romney not pick his VP and potential cabinet NOW and RUN AS THE ROMNEY TEAM.  One of the more effective ways to counter a “charismatic” leader is to run as the leader of a team.  It has done in other countries with remarkable success.

    It seems to me Obama’s narcissism has resulted in (a) very much a one man show and (b) a propensity to pick a very indifferent if not incompetent group of people to head up the departments …. (Holder and Biden immediately come to mine … and the stammering Jay Carney seems to reflect this remarkably modest crew that Obama has collected up)  

    Romney could then take this position:
    1.  America has a debt crisis … and unemployment crisis … a lack of confidence in Congress crisis … and a concern that we are heading into a decline.
    2.  As a successful businessman, I know that you can only operate a large entity whether its a corporation or government with a competent professional team of world class leaders.
    3.  I know the average American is suffering … and I know that if they elect me it will be my job to fix it.  
    4.  Therefore I have picked a group of men and women who I know have the intelligence and competence to get to work and fix these problems … and here they are ………

    This approach would reinforce the image that Romney as a person with experience as a Governor and a successful business man is bringing an “adult approach” to Americas very serious problems ….. if he chose outstanding people and the right people it would show he is putting into practice the idea that “there are no red and blue states .. just the United States” …. it would create endless buzz in the press … do you think Rubio would be a better V.P than Joe Biden … etc. which in turn would create a sense of inevitability in favour of Romney winning the election.

    If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing the countervailing position.

    • John Daly

       It’s all about timing. There’s no sense making an announcement until the timing calls for it.

      Right now, Romney is doing fine in the polls.  He’s pretty much even with the president, and that’s a good place to be six months out from the election.

      If he announces his VP pick now, the media will spend the next 6 months trying to destroy that pick. For now, he’s doing the right thing in using guys like Trump, Gingrich, Rubio, Ryan, and Christie to stump for him in front of audience demographics that make sense.

      Romney’s decision also might be affected by Obama switching Biden for Hillary for his VP pick. I don’t think it’s as remote of a possibility as the media is suggesting. 

      If Romney were to announce now, and pick someone like Rubio, having a freshman senator against a U.S. Secretary of State might not be the best way to go.

      • cmacrider

        John:  Although one cannot dismiss your points as not having merit, it seems to me that Romney spends most of his time counter punching and on the defensive.  This leaves the independents uncertain as to who Romney really is and what he is going to do to solve the current malaise.  If he named a VP now who was competent and politically advantageous, he axiomatically double the number of road warriors and increases Republican press coverage.   If he named “potential cabinet ministers” he would be taking advantage of one of excellent characteristics of the American system namely: cabinet members do not have to be elected officials as they do in a parliamentary system.  (Kissenger and Dr. Rice are but 2 examples of the advantages of this —  neither of whom had any interest in electoral politics but gained stature as world figures on merit and ability) 
        I am not personally concerned that the Press would be able to “destroy” Romney’s choices.  Prudence in making such choices seems to be Romneys forte.  On the other hand it would spread the press thin in attempting to cover all of these people and more importantly would give the general public a sense that here is a politician who is determined to be a problem solver not just the conveyor of empty rhetoric. 
        None of the foregoing would preclude the present strategy that you have pointed out of getting the Trumps and ex candidates to stump for him in targeted markets.