I think the technical term is “huckster.”
If you found Donald Trump’s rambling, incoherent announcement of his presidential run to be troubling, you will be dismayed to learn that he’s got a recipe for winning: “According to Donald Trump, a 2016 ticket of Trump for president and Oprah Winfrey for vice president would be a lock for the White House.”
Now America has its share (maybe a larger share) of hucksters, con men, pranksters and the like who seek to grab their 15 minutes of fame. We should not be surprised when they show up in presidential races. And while Trump is a ludicrous figure with no chance to win, there are lots of other candidates who have an equally low chance (zero) to make it to the nomination. Still, it is worse having Trump there, since he obviously is using this opportunity purely as self-promotion and to air his obnoxious attitudes.
We will see if he really is willing to file required financial information under penalty of perjury. Putting out a summary with huge dollar signs and saying you are going to run, for Trump, does not mean he is going to follow through.
So what should the voters, the media and the GOP do about this? Doesn’t he cheapen the entire exercise and make it difficult to focus on the real contenders who have a hard enough time getting visibility in a crowded field? There are ways to maintain some control.
First and foremost, the voters. They don’t have to come to his events, don’t have to sign up on his email list, and don’t have to select him from a list of candidates when polled. We get the leaders—and the televised debates– we deserve. If he winds up drawing 3-5 percent and gets a spot on the debate stage, GOP voters have 0nly themselves to blame.
Second, Fox News’s criteria of using national polls to gain entry into the debates was a flawed mechanism from the start. It rewards celebrity candidates and under-values the early state voters who actually are paying attention. Going to state polling makes it harder for Trump and other cranks to qualify.
Third, the other candidates don’t have to take the bait when interviewers ask them about Trump. When Jeb Bush was asked to respond to a Trump jab about Common Core he laughed. That’s the perfect response. Trump will say ludicrous things– they should refuse to comment and/or denounce them all. Perhaps something like a “standing objection” to everything he says will do. For the candidates who hold Trump-like views on trade and other matters, they might want to consider how ludicrous he sounds and adjust themselves accordingly.
Fourth, I suppose it is too much for respectable news organizations to treat him with disdain, dropping the pretense he is a real candidate. Nevertheless, it is nice to think they would try. After all they are not the Trump PR department and should not pretend his policy positions are serious.
There is a serious aspect to this, of course. He might bump out a legitimate candidate from the first debate. That would be unfortunate, but not the end of the world, as there will now be a second tier debate.
That said, it would be wise to keep Trump at bay. It is hard enough to select the best candidate from the mob of contenders without the distraction of a clown like him.