On this day in June of 2015, Donald Trump turned a presidential campaign announcement into performance art.
Decked out in red (tie), white (shirt), and blue (suit), The Donald was hyperbolic and supremely self-confident as he tossed out grandiose campaign promises, bragged about his billions, and threw shade at Republicans and Democrats alike. In other words, he was Donald Trump.
And now, finally, after years of threatening to run for president, Mr. Trump is actually doing it. At least for now. Some have speculated that the real estate investor/reality TV star will stick around for a while, appear in a few Republican debates, then drop out to avoid having to go through extensive financial disclosure. But as long as he qualifies to appear in Republican debates, he has a big incentive to stick with the campaign: He will get tons of media exposure.
The Democratic National Committee couldn’t be happier.
“Today, Donald Trump became the second major Republican candidate to announce for president in two days,” said DNC press secretary Holly Shulman, in a statement, elevating Trump to the level of top-tier candidate Jeb Bush, who announced on Monday. “He adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation.”
Much-needed seriousness? True, Trump talked about the major issues of the day, about jobs and the Islamic State and immigration, but he did so with such bombast as to be comical. He won’t just create jobs, he’ll be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Trump won’t just defeat the Islamic State, he will “find the General Patton or I will find General MacArthur” to do the job.
He won’t just seal the southern border with Mexico, he will “build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
To Democrats, Trump is a gift, because he threatens to turn the already-large Republican field into a circus. He’ll say anything to anybody, and mixed in with all the hyperbole, he might get off some real zingers against fellow Republicans up there on the debate stage.
For now, Trump is qualified to appear in the first GOP debate, hosted by Fox News on Aug. 6. Fox is granting debate slots to the top 10 candidates in national polls, and Trump just squeaks in at 4 percent. Left out is the only Republican woman running, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (who is expected to announce soon), and former Sen. Rick Santorum, the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
Maybe the Republicans should be grateful their field is so large. Trump will be one of 10 on stage, so he can’t get that much air time. But his presence is likely to boost ratings, drawing viewers to other candidates on stage – the ones who actually have a shot at being elected president.
We know, it’s not fair to count anybody out at this very early stage. But Trump’s candidacy is as quixotic as they come. A March poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal reports that fully 74 percent of Republican voters say they could not see themselves supporting Trump. No Republican contender scored worse.