Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time to bring this show to an end

For a man who said he is prepared to spend $1 billion on his campaign, he has only anted up $1.8 million so far, much of it on his trademark cap, which has helped him generate nearly $4 million in contributions that has been spent as well.  Of course, Trump hasn't had to worry about publicity, thanks to the adoring news media, which has followed him 24/7 ever since he entered the race in June.  However, you have to wonder what if anything he has done to organize staff in early primary states?

Most candidates rely on huge staffs to get their names out in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as much as they can afford anyway.  Perry and Walker had to drop out because they could no longer support their staffs.  Trump seems to rely almost exclusively on twitter and instagram, along with the trolls, er volunteers, he has defending him in the comment sections.  It's a very odd campaign and could signal a whole new way of campaigning if it pays off.

But, this isn't the blitzkrieg Trump promised back in August, sending shivers down the Republican establishment's spine.  Instead, it is a campaign run on the cheap, relying heavily on name recognition and free publicity.  What gives, Donald?  Is this campaign for real or just a clever marketing ploy to keep your name in the news cycle?

Traditionally, a presidential campaign needs a lot of foot soldiers going door to door, particularly in the early state primaries.  Of course, many are volunteers and no doubt there is a merry band of Trumpsters hitting the pavement, but you have to pay someone to organize them and manage their efforts effectively.  There has been little indication that Trump is concerned with such matters.  He seems to think most persons are tied into their cellphones and that it is enough to tweet his messages in, and not bother with personal contacts.  Maybe this is the new way of campaigning, as more and more candidates are using twitter and other forms of free social media.  But, do these cyberspace "followers" translate into human votes?

The folks of Iowa and New Hampshire like to see their candidates up close and personal.  Trump has made stops, but has opted for "huge rallies" rather than stumping around the states.  Of course, "huge" is relative, because Bernie Sanders has been drawing in bigger crowds, but the Donald makes sure everyone thinks his rallies are the biggest the political world has ever seen.  He feeds off this pomp, taking offense when ever someone calls him out on how many persons are actually attending his rallies.  The New York Times noted the empty seats back in September.  Trump fired back angrily at a photographer who captured the images.

Perception is everything, and Donald has been pulling off a neat trick, making a lot of people think he has this massive support that will not only carry him through the Republican primaries, which he acts as though it is a done deal, but to the White House, where he will reside as Trump-in-Chief for the next 8 years.  Why stop there?  He could re-write the Constitution to do away with term limits, as he has already suggested he will do with birthright citizenship.  However, Trump is no spring chicken so two terms might be enough.

For the better part of the last five months, we have all been greatly entertained by the Trump media circus, but all good things have to come to an end sometime, and it looks like the "Make America Great Again" rollercoaster ride is one of those amusement park attractions that closes for winter.  It takes more than name recognition, truckers' caps, and tweets to run a campaign.

The Donald has to be pretty happy with himself for being able to pull it off as long as he did, but we will hear more talk of an exit strategy ahead, as his numbers continue to slide.  Voters will more seriously look at the candidates as the primaries draw closer, expecting more than just bellicose rhetoric from them.

A third debate is on the event horizon.  Donald has already expressed his frustration over the format, complaining these debates run on too long.  He is joined by the other vanity candidates Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, who want less scrutiny, not more in the weeks ahead.  Apparently, all that whining paid off as CNBC agreed to keep its debate to two hours, so that Trump and Carson wouldn't miss any beauty sleep.

For the most part the Trump campaign has been that of a petulant teenager believing he is the one who rules the house.  The media has been acting like doting parents, letting him get away with it because it fueled their television ratings.  But, it seems those numbers are starting to wane as well, and the media is turning to other candidates.  It is very hard to resist the inane comments coming out of Ben Carson's mouth these days, which have helped fuel his campaign to the tune of $20 million in the third quarter.  That's 10 times more money than what Donald has personally spent on his campaign, making Trump look a lot less formidable.

Of course, the self-proclaimed deca-billionaire can drop a $100 mil anytime he wants, but this isn't Trump's style.  He prefers to use other people's money, not his own.  All you will get for it is a red cap that will fade in the first wash.  My guess is that Trump won't even make it to the first caucuses in Iowa, citing some crazy reason to drop out.  He can blame it on the Bush family, as Ross Perot did in 1992.

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