Donald Trump and the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy
Our long national nightmare is officially over, as Donald Trump has picked a candidate in the 2012 presidential race, thereby ending his long, long flirtation with his own presidential bid (one would assume).
Fix colleagues Rachel Weiner and Philip Rucker report that Trump will back Mitt Romney Thursday in a Las Vegas press conference at 3:30 p.m. eastern time.
But just what kind of endorsement is this?
To answer that question, we turn once against to the vaunted Fix Endorsement Hierarchy.
At first glance, the endorsement would seem rather easy to classify as a “celebrity endorsement.”
The Donald is, after all, a celebrity.
But more than a celebrity, Trump is the world’s greatest self-promoter.
When there were conflicting reports Thursday morning about which candidate he would endorse, many – including The Fix, we acknowledge – wondered whether it was an elaborate ruse to draw more attention to the endorsement itself.
Either way, the fact that Trump is crashing the presidential race at this key juncture is more of the same from the real estate mogul and reality-TV star. Throughout the entire presidential campaign, Trump has dangled the idea that he, himself, might make a bid. And after he announced he wouldn’t run in the GOP primary, he almost immediately began hinting at a possible independent bid.
Trump has parlayed this will-he-or-won’t-he game into regular appearances on cable news, some respectable showings in early polls of the presidential race, and a new Republican political brand for a man who only re-registered with the GOP in 2009 (and recently unaffiliated to explore an independent bid).
But most important of all, has increased the number of people who are talking about Donald Trump.
And, really, isn’t that what Trump wants?
For this reason, we will not classify this is a “celebrity endorsement,” but rather under the more obscure category of the “me for me” endorsement — that is, making an endorsement that helps the endorser more than the endorsee.
In other words, Trump wants to make this endorsement more than Romney wants it.
Romney was doing just fine without Trump, and if anything, this is a bit of an annoying sideshow for the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign.
You can’t really say no to the endorsement, because Trump has a sizeable megaphone that he can use to try to take you down. But you also don’t want to be defined as a candidate too closely tied to a man whose top political cause was the birther movement and whom the American people aren’t exactly in love with.
In a January Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, 26 percent of Americans said a Trump endorsement would make them less likely to support a candidate, versus 8 percent who said it would make them more likely.
So the big winner in Thursday’s endorsement is Donald Trump himself, who may be offering the biggest “me for me” endorsement of all time.
The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy (ranked in order of influence)
* The Symbolic Endorsement: Sen. Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.
* The National Endorsement: Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty for Romney.
* The In-State Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to Sen. John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary in 2008.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee in 2008; Oprah for Obama.
* The Newspaper Endorsement: The Washington Post endorsing state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary.
* Out-of-State Statewide Endorsement: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint endorsing former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate primary.
* The What Goes Around Comes Around Endorsement: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsing Rubio.
* The Obligatory Endorsement: George W. Bush endorsing McCain’s presidential bid in 2008.
* The “Me for Me” Endorsement: Former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) endorsing Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D) 2010 Senate campaign.
* The Non-Endorsement Endorsement: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) passing on an endorsement of Sen. David Vitter’s (R) 2010 reelection bid.
* The Backfire Endorsement: Former Vice President Al Gore endorsing former Vermont governor Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential race.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Jailed former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham backing Newt Gingrich.