I hope you’re a believer in “the more the merrier” because two new potential candidates for president in 2012 are shaking up the race by sticking their toes in the water. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is going to Iowa and is reportedly considering a run, and billionaire Donald Trump is said to have told friends that he has decided to jump in once the next season of The Apprentice ends.
It seems to be assumed that Trump is just trying to boost the ratings for his show. After all, he has worked hard for his attention-hog reputation. We all remember when he had a vicious public fight with Rosie O’Donnell and used the controversy to get booked anywhere and everywhere so he could call her “fat” and a “loser” on air. However, it’s reported that he’s researching advisors for a potential campaign and insists he is serious.
Don’t underestimate Trump’s influence in the 2012 race. If the popularity of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tells us anything, it’s that voters are longing for a tough-talking candidate that doesn’t back down from a fight. It’s humorous to think of Trump saying “you’re fired!” condescendingly, but that’s the type of language that fits today’s angry political environment. He hasn’t held office and can therefore anchor himself to anti-Washington rage, and his reputation as an independent will also play well.
Trump has not given any policy proposals beyond taxing Chinese products and working to break OPEC, so he has room to say things to appeal to Republican primary voters. He will have to work hard to be taken seriously though, and once his support for the impeachment of President Bush because he “got us into the war with lies” and his bankruptcies are entered into the debate, he will be put on the defensive.
Trump won’t attract a lot of support among the social conservatives in Iowa because of his past infidelity and all-around inability to relate to them, but he could do well in New Hampshire. One poll found him winning 50 percent of Independents against Obama right now. Trump will fashion himself as a government-cleansing, straight-talking economic whiz. That will primarily hurt Mitt Romney, but he hurts all the other candidates as well. With his massive wealth, his ability to spout sound bites, and free media attention, he’ll leave the lesser-known candidates screaming to be noticed. Even if he ultimately doesn’t run but teases the media, he’ll have this effect.