Is Trump 2016 a branding exercise?

Maybe. But today’s NYT offers evidence against. In October 2013, Trump explored a run for Governor of New York. He met with GOP politicos: they planned to have him in office for one year, resign in favor of his Lieutenant Governor, then run for President. The deal fell apart because Trump wanted an uncontested nomination and Roger Stone advised him that whole exercise was unnecessary. Trump downplays the whole thing today.

So he has been planning a Presidential run for a while. I suppose the flirting with NY Republican lawmakers could have been an elaborate head fake. But this doesn’t look like a story that Trump has pushed.

Wow 1: It is appalling that Trump and NY Republican lawmakers would plot such a stunt. One year in the governor’s office!?! To his credit, their eventual nominee Rob Astorino refused to form a unity ticket and run with Trump as Lieutenant Governor. “I didn’t think that was fair to me, or the people, or the process.”

Wow 2: It is unfortunate that a guy with his eye on the Presidency never found it necessary or advisable to study the issues in any sort of depth. The candidate GWBush was tutored by Condoleezza Rice. Gary Hart thought long and hard about the Presidency. Those with national political experience pick up policy knowledge through osmosis if nothing else. Or at least they learn not to get burnt by spouting inanities.

Sort of. Factual corrections are for newspaper readers, maybe with a viewership of 1 million max. Trump grasps that the action is on TV - 1-2 million for daily cable news and 20 million for the debate itself. Trump appears to split his message up for different audiences. A little. I mean Trump is the GOP race’s biggest liar, isn’t he?

When will we see those tax returns?

Also topical: were Carson and Huckabee running branding exercises? (A: Yes and yes.)

Never. Ever.

As soon as the audit is done. But he’s *always *being audited, darn the luck.

I’m happy for him. But just because the run was planned for a while, doesn’t imply that it’s not a branding exercise. These things aren’t mutually exclusive. Heck I’d expect a President Trump to appoint his relatives to manage his business, and push the Trump brand even more. And call the whole thing a blind trust which he has no control over. What would stop him? Shame?

Kevin Drum reports on another Trump scam: apparently he launched a multi-level marketing organization selling highly priced vitamins. He claimed it would be bigger than Amway. What happened was part of a Trump-style pattern: [INDENT]“The Trump Network had gotten in trouble financially,” Bonnie Futrell, a former Network marketer, told Stat News. “They weren’t being able to pay [the lab]. They weren’t paying vendors. They weren’t paying us.” [/INDENT] A little over 2 years after it started, it was sold to another network-marketing company.

Trump won’t be bought by special interests because he is a special interest.

After Trump loses, will he be able to launch a consumer oriented business that actually succeeds? I think so. He will probably have to stop producing his ties and shirts in China, but his base of ginned up fanatics could prove highly lucrative.

From Jeet Heer’s twitter feed: [INDENT]If this former Trump staffer is being honest, his campaign is exactly like The Producers. God help us all: [/INDENT] According to the Trump staff member, [INDENT][INDENT]Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well.

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.

The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy. [/INDENT][/INDENT] Not sure what to make of that. Trump has obviously had a Plan B, as he emphasized during the Fall the fantastic ratings he pulled down.

Also, I frankly question the judgment of somebody who would agree to such a ridiculous proposal. I don’t dismiss their judgment though, at least as long as her pay checks didn’t bounce. But the author seemed to believe without introspection that running a high profile protest candidacy was a good and wise thing.

We’ve known about Trump wanting to run for President for a long time. He was supposed to get into the 2012 race but never did, and he actually did run for President in 2000, attempting to win the Reform Party nomination that went to Pat Buchanan.

Her account is so totally believable and almost, to a tee, what I had felt and even commented to my wife about three months ago.

First of all, consider the fact that Donald’s a salesman and marketing guru, a deal maker as he likes to put it. I can’t see anyone like Donald, and with his particular temperament, having the patience for national security briefings, negotiating with foreign partners, building coalitions in congress, dealing with filibusters and procedural floor voting, and the nominations process. Let’s just start with that.

But the kinds of antics he’s engaged in, and the comments he’s made, no serious candidate says or does these things. Nobody. And while you could say that maybe that’s some sort of hidden brilliance of the Donald, I just don’t buy it. If you’re serious and if you’re competitive enough to want to win at politics, you care about the end game, which apparently Donald does not. Otherwise he wouldn’t alienate women and Hispanics the way he has. And when you care about the end game, while you might push the envelope of what is acceptable, you (he) wouldn’t make these kinds of reckless comments and act like a junior high locker room bully.

And yet here he is, the possible GOP nominee (I personally think that he’s about to suffer a historic collapse but I’ll get to that later).

I think the fact that he’s now getting more and more competitive is indeed attributable to his ego. He’s gone this far, and he’s ‘winning’. So it could be that his little gimmick has gotten more serious now, and maybe he’s emotionally caught up in the show that’s essentially authored.

In addition to that, there’s probably some personal animus as well. It’s not too hard to make enemies in this process. I suspect that Donald Trump has developed a healthy dislike for some within the GOP, and I’m almost positive he has a personal disdain for Ted Cruz. I get the feeling Trump hates Cruz, that he hates his fake piety and just fraudulent personality, and that he would run as a third party candidate just to make sure that he doesn’t win.

She does say some exact things I had been thinking:

But here’s what Trump’s campaign says in response:

I do think what she’s saying is true, that it was started as a protest campaign, where Trump would just stir things up. I do wonder what other people in the campaign are thinking now, if they are excited that it’s done much better than expected or are panicking. I hope someone on the inside writes a book because I’m sure it will be fascinating.

I never thought of that. It would indeed make interesting reading.

I want to believe that it’s true, but I’m not sure I follow the logic.

“He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some.” I don’t get it; wasn’t the original plan for him to finish second in the delegate count? How the heck does that get him could-have-done-it bragging rights?

“You know how Mitt Romney won the most GOP delegates and so was his party’s nominee against President Obama? Well, four years later, the GOP didn’t pick me, figuring that someone else would do a better job! WOOO! I was almost as good at this as Mitt Romney was, except I couldn’t clinch a nomination like he did!”

That was Plan A?

I’d guess that they were thinking he’d be second behind the establishment candidate, and he could argle-bargle about how he would have won if it wasn’t for that, and how the establishment is afraid of his supporters but no one expected he’d do that well but they still got their voices heard.

Wow. So Trump was - and maybe still is - being pushed by dissident Republicans? This puts him in a whole new light.

David Kuo, who once worked for the George W. Bush administration, wrote a book called dot.bomb, about his experiences working for a startup during the dotcom boom. The head of the dtocom was an egotistical idiot who was like a small scale Trump. One of the most interesting parts of the book was that this guy really thought he could be President of the U.S. He met with Republican leaders, and discussed his options, even though he had absolutely no idea about the issues, or what it takes to run a government. It was the mindset that fascinated me, this idea that, yeah, I’ve run a few companies that were successful before they collapsed in bankruptcy, therefore I’m qualified to run a country, because it’s just like running a big business.

I can’t help feeling that the mindset discussed in the book is very similar to Trump’s mindset. Even if you’re not interested in the political aspects, the book is a great read and very funny.

He would have won if if wasn’t for someone else winning?

I’ll freely admit that no claim seems beneath Trump. I’ll even grant that he’ll obviously have to supply some kind of excuse if he does as poorly as I hope. But if he’d planned to brazenly argle-bargle about a second-place finish, it seems like he’d be just as cavalier about a third-place finish, or a ninth-place finish, or whatever.

“Yeah, I could’ve been the heavyweight boxing champ. I would’ve broken records, believe me; I would’ve won so many fights, I would’ve kept winning, people would’ve gotten sick of me winning all the time; it would’ve been great, really great, if only somebody else hadn’t been out there, you know, throwing knockout punches.”

Well, Wendell Wilkie and Ross Perot had zero experience in government when they ran for President. Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover had never held elective office before they were elected President, nor did Sargent Shriver when he was pressed into service as the Vice Presidential nominee in 1972.

Compared to them, Trump actually being in an election one time would be a tremendous improvement. Or, as Sam Rayburn said about JFK’s advisiors, "I’d feel a lot better if one of them had run for sheriff.

Snopes notes that the staff member didn’t work directly for Trump: she was part of his Super-PAC which isn’t suppose to coordinate directly with the campaign. She certainly wasn’t Trump’s top strategist, contrary to xojane’s misleading headline.

So we need to deweight that open letter somewhat.

I tried to watch Katie Couric’s interview on YahooTV with Stephanie Cegielski. She didn’t fare too well as Katie pushed hard questions to her.

For one, she never met Donald. She interviewed but was not hired by the campaign and ended up working for a SuperPAC that closed up shop last October.

(Bolding mine.)

I think being SCAEF might count toward leadership experience. Especially when the majority of the population revered him.

It was a bad headline, she wasn’t his top strategist, and it is also notable that she says the PAC was closed “in order to position him as the quintessential non-politician” while Snopes says it was because of “ongoing scrutiny of where the money was coming from and going to, and whether the committee had direct ties to the Trump campaign.” But I would like to hear if others confirm what she said about the slogan being “Let Trump Be Trump”. And some of her open letter is opinion, but some of it just fact:

Also, it’s true that PACs aren’t supposed to coordinate with the campaigns, but it’s one of those rules that is easy to circumvent and often is. So it could be some misguided people at a bad PAC and what she says has nothing to do with the rest of the campaign, or it could be a reflection of his overall campaign, hard to know for sure unless some other staffers go public.

I really hope more staffers in his campaign and PACs talk about their time working for him. I’d like to know how many are true believers, how many got in it just for money and experience, and how many maybe were true believers but got disillusioned.

We’ve already had a candidate who ran a company in the ground, was egotistical, never held elective office and still thought she was qualified to run for president. Her name is Fiorina.