With the third and final presidential debate set to take place later Monday, self-promoter-extraordinaire and longtime Obama antagonist Donald Trump made an early morning appearance on “Fox and Friends,” claiming he had “something very, very big” to reveal concerning the president.
Naturally, Mr. Trump would not give any hints as to what this supposed bombshell might be. He only said that he would make an announcement about it sometime soon, “probably on Wednesday.”
But he promised it was big. Really big. Like, “bigger than anybody would know.” He predicted his Fox hosts “will cover it in a very big fashion.”
Of course, Trump has done this before: In the run-up to the Republican National Convention, he promised a “big surprise,” as well. In the end, the only surprise there was the appearance by actor Clint Eastwood – and we all know how that turned out. (It was later revealed that Trump had taped a video of himself “firing” the president, but when the convention was shortened by a day due to weather, the video tragically got cut.)
This time, the obvious speculation regarding Trump’s announcement is that it may have something to do with the “birther” controversy. Trump has, after all, taken on the mantle of most-prominent-conspiracy-theorist claiming Obama may not have been born in the United States. Last year, he famously made a big show of hiring a team of private investigators to look into the matter.
But even if all Trump is planning to reveal is that he’s inviting Obama to appear on “Celebrity Apprentice” – well, we suppose we've got to give him points on the psychological warfare front.
You see, on the eve of a big – and, by most accounts, critical – debate, it’s not an uncommon tactic for each side to try to “get in the other guy’s head.” Announcing that you’ve got something damaging on your opponent – but refraining from saying what, exactly, it might be – could be seen as an attempt to do just that. In this case, a clumsy, transparently obvious attempt, via an individual whose support the Romney campaign has not exactly welcomed with open arms. But an attempt, nonetheless.
Some Democrats actually think this may have been what happened to the president in the run-up to the first debate. As you may recall, the conservative Daily Caller website teased (via Drudge and Fox News) the unveiling of a “bombshell video” that turned out to be a five-year-old tape of Obama speaking to a mostly black audience at Hampton University. In the speech, Obama indicated he thought the slow response to Hurricane Katrina had been influenced by race, and he gave a shout-out to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Most media outlets wound up dismissing the tape as old news – but the day-long buildup to the video's release was, as the Huffington Post's Jason Linkins put it, "a work of genius."
And some pundits later speculated that all the racially tinged back-and-forth over the video may have, somehow, subconsciously influenced Obama into giving a more subdued appearance at the first debate.
Now, the president is almost certainly less likely to be affected by Trump's attempts to get under his skin – since, at this point, it's practically become a regular occurrence. And Trump’s gambit may even backfire – as has much of the “birther” talk throughout the campaign – by pushing moderate independents toward the Democrats. Still, The Donald's out there trying.