Donald Trump is an absolute PR wizard.
He proved that again Thursday with a carefully orchestrated news conference at Trump Tower -- of course -- at which he announced that he had decided not to run as an independent if he comes up short in his pursuit of the Republican nomination.
Consider the following:
1. Trump was able to tout that the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, had come to him in New York City.
2. Priebus was not at the actual press conference, leaving Trump the stage to himself.
3. Trump was able to hold the pledge -- he did it several times to make sure the cameras captured it -- and tout that he was committed to the Republican party and Republican principles.
4. The pledge is a non-binding document that Trump can ignore if (or when?) he chooses.
5. Trump got 30 minutes in front of every TV camera and major print and digital reporter in the country to hit his talking points, bash Jeb Bush, and talk about how "Kanye loves Trump." (Yes, that really happened.)
In virtually every possible way, then, this was a major win for Trump. It tamps down what was becoming an increasingly tough issue for him to handle that would have been front and center at the next debate Sept. 16 -- while also making him look as strong as possible.
Trump also sets himself up as judge, jury and executioner when it comes to his oft-stated insistence that he just wants "to be treated like everyone else" by the national Republican party. Because "fair" -- especially when it comes to Trump -- is very much in the eye of the beholder, who's to say when and if his pledge becomes inoperable? Priebus as well as the rest of the GOP candidates stand at his mercy -- just the way Trump likes it.
The Trump phenomenon remains the most compelling storyline in politics since a young U.S. senator named Barack Obama emerged onto the national political scene. Trump may not ultimately have the staying power of Obama but he knows how to entertain -- and is doing it better than anyone else out there right now.