Colson: Contemplating The Donald’s wild-man bid
I’ve been thinking about Donald Trump’s chances of being the next Republican nominee for the job or President of the United States, which I have so far believed to be dim to the point of near invisibility.
Back in late October, however, the Politico online magazine reported that 81 percent of Republican “insiders” believed at the time that Trump had perhaps a 50-50 chance of winning the nomination.
Of course, that’s a fairly skewed sample, since most Republican strategists firmly believed four years ago that Mitt Romney was bound to become our next president.
But according to Politico’s Oct. 23 story, the feeling among party strategists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (the first three states to hold contests) was that, despite the lunacy evident in Trump’s campaign, he could just pull it off.
Further along these lines, Politico just last week posted a story that wondered whether the embattled GOP might be forced to “mount a third party challenge” to Trump’s candidacy, should he actually become the Republican nominee for 2016.
How bizarre an idea is that? Conceivably, we could be treated to the high insanity of a three-way presidential contest with, say, Hillary Clinton facing off against Trump and, just to pick a name, Florida Sen. Ted Cruz on the national ballot.
If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders manages to stay in the game, his name also could be on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot, making things even stranger.
Hell, if that came to pass, it could kick off a sea change in politics, allowing viable third-party candidacies to break the two-party stranglehold that the Republicans and Democrats have had on our country for more than a century.
But that’s another column. Let’s stay on topic.
Trump, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has made millions thanks to his daddy’s prior career as a biz-whiz, is not a normal candidate in any sense of the phrase.
He started out largely paying for his own campaign, out of his own pocket, until he realized there actually were people out there willing to donate to his cause.
His bombastic declarations of off-the-wall ideas and proposals on immigration, for example — from implying that Latino immigrants as a rule are rapists and criminals to threatening to prevent any Muslim or Islamic adherents from entering this country in the future — have been viewed by the thinking public as just so much bluster.
After all, his entire candidacy has been based on his ability to be outrageous and confrontational against the establishment of his own party, a tactic that has played well with the same clueless, anti-government bigots who loved Sarah Palin back in 2008.
And Palin, of course, is viewed today as the idiot iceberg that poked a hole in the hull of the campaign of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, causing it to sink to the sound of wild laughter and huge sighs of relief.
Anyway, back to my earlier point, we should take anything said by these “Republican insiders” with a peck, or maybe a bushel of salt.
Last weekend, the New York Times, in a front-page article, noted that Trump may be holding his own in the polls (though Cruz seems to have pulled ahead of Trump in Iowa), but has not got the kind of ground-level organization in Iowa that historically has taken candidates from wannabes to winners.
Iowa, as the article points out, has stuck with its caucus system for deciding who gets the support of the state’s Republicans, just as Colorado has (Iowa’s caucus is on Feb. 1, Colorado’s is a month later).
And caucuses, as any political wonk knows, are very complicated processes that have proven unwinnable to candidates who lack grassroots organizations.
To win in caucus states, campaigns typically need people to follow up on contacts made during political rallies, or to roam through the state knocking on doors and convincing voters to volunteer for the candidate in question and to actually vote on caucus day, along with a number of other tried-and-true, get-out-the-vote tactics.
And many pundits have been predicting that if Trump doesn’t win in Iowa he’s not likely to do any better in subsequent state contests and at the national convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
So we may soon see the last of The Donald, at least if Cruz trumps Trump in the Iowa caucuses.
Though, in this year of topsy-turvy Republican politics, uncertainty rules.
For instance, where in previous presidential election cycles the field of candidates has been culled fairly quickly, this year we still have 13 Republicans (as of Dec. 20) who are trying to win the nomination, probably counting on all the confusion to give them a stab at winning.
And, of course, Trump’s ego is big enough and his wallet is deep enough that even if he loses Iowa, he might still hang on just for the hell of it. According to polls conducted by RealClearPolitics.com, he was still polling ahead of Cruz in New Hampshire and South Carolina as of earlier this week.
Let the madness continue.
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