Ad man Donny Deutsch had an interesting idea on “Morning Joe” this morning. Deutsch suggested that if Donald Trump loses the presidential election to Hillary Clinton this November — and Deutsch is certain he will — the real estate mogul should start his own TV channel. Charge $6 or $7 a month and simply use the channel to respond to what’s happening that day in politics.
Deutsch was joking — sort of. But he was also making a broader and important point about The Donald: No matter what happens in 98 days at the ballot box, Trump isn’t going anywhere.
Why? Because at root, Trump is a master of the attention economy. Whether you like him or hate him, you consume his content — whether that’s “The Apprentice” or his presidential campaign. He is a brand and marketing expert — and the brand he knows how to sell best (only?) is TRUMP.
Given that, Trump is having the time of his life right now. (Remember that Trump doesn't really distinguish between good and bad press. All press is good press to him.) That was always the fundamental misunderstanding at the heart of the analysis by many within the GOP that Trump would get sick of running for president and just drop out. Or that he is now trying to self-sabotage his candidacy because he doesn't want to, or knows he can't, do the job for which he is running.
Trump loves this. He lives for this. Watch his speeches. He always tells his audience how much fun he is having, how great it all is. He is the ringmaster at the circus. “Donald Trump, presidential candidate” is the role of a lifetime for him.
Now ask yourself this: For an attention hog like Trump, who is now being talked about in every corner of the world, this is a dream. And there’s zero chance he's going to voluntarily walk away from all of that attention. Period.
But wait, you say: How can Trump stay in the limelight if he loses — and loses badly — to Clinton this fall? Easy. By never really recognizing that he lost.
Trump is already laying the groundwork for that move. On Monday night in Pennsylvania, Trump said this: “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.” On Tuesday in Virginia, Trump mentioned a CNN poll showing him trailing Clinton and offered this: “There’s something phony about these polls.”
What Trump will say if he loses the election is that the whole game — polls, the media, everything — was already rigged against him. He’ll use his defeat as yet more evidence that the “establishment” is fundamentally corrupt — so corrupt that it couldn’t run the risk of having someone like him as president, so it had to fix the results.
And if past — or at least the campaign to date — is prologue, there will be a not-insignificant bloc of people who swallow that argument hook, line and sinker. That following, coupled with Trump’s desire to continue to harvest attention/stay relevant/leverage his political celebrity to help his businesses, means that no matter what happens Nov. 8, Trump isn’t going to suddenly disappear.
He isn’t George W. Bush, retiring to Dallas after his presidency and refusing to comment on most matters out of respect for the man who followed him into office. Or even Mitt Romney, who largely stayed on the sidelines once he lost to Obama in 2012.
This is Donald J. Trump. And what’s good for Donald Trump — and Trump, the brand — is to keep grabbing those attention dollars. He’s not going anywhere. Believe me.