Obama, Trump and the 2012 elections

By Bernd Debusmann
April 12, 2011

“Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich. So if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million in myself. That’s a huge advantage … over the other candidates.”

So says real estate magnate and reality TV show host Donald Trump, talking about the 2012 U.S. presidential elections.

It’s 18 months to go to November 6, 2012, an eternity in politics, but two things already seem clear: it will be the most expensive campaign ever and the line between the political fringe and mainstream politics will often be blurred.

First, the numbers. The opening of President Barack Obama’s election campaign on April 4 prompted a slew of predictions that he would manage to raise $1 billion, comfortably in excess of the $780 million his supporters provided in 2008. That was a record, more than twice as much as his rival, Republican John McCain (and almost exactly twice as much as George W. Bush in 2004).

None of the potential Republican candidates has yet declared he (or she) is in the running. None can boast to match the “beauty” of Trump, who ranks 488 on Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s billionaires with an estimated net worth of $2 billion. If he did run, he could afford the $600 million he is talking about. In a series of television interviews, Trump has said he would make a decision in June.

Whether he runs or not, the total candidates will spend for 2012 is almost certain to top the $1.6 billion raised for the 2008 elections. One might expect that sums of that magnitude would prompt grumbles from an electorate grappling with unemployment and foreclosures but the subject of campaign finance reform has rarely stirred widespread interest.

That can’t be said of statements Trump has been making over the past three weeks, when he became the most prominent American to give credence to the views held by the diverse community known as “birthers”.

They are Americans who insist — in the face of much evidence to the contrary — that Obama was born in Kenya, his father’s native country, not the United States, and therefore his presidency is illegitimate.

The logic that underpins this belief implies an intricate intercontinental conspiracy in 1961 to get a Hawaii hospital to certify a birth and two newspapers to publish notices of birth.

“If he wasn’t born in this country, which is a real possibility, then he has pulled one of the greatest ever con tricks,” Trump said on April 10.

He went on to assure television viewers that “this country is going to hell,” the world was laughing at the United States, and the country was no longer respected. Not to worry, though. If he were elected, “I would run a great, great country … They (the world) won’t be laughing if I’m president.”

Among the reasons: “I happen to be smart, I happen to have a lot of common sense, I happen to know what I’m doing.”

LUNATIC FRINGE OR MAINSTREAM?
Liberal pundits have sprinkled their commentaries on Trump’s advocacy of the birthers with the words “fringe” or “lunatic fringe.” But judging from recent polls, among Republicans these views are not fringe — they are mainstream. A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in February showed that 51 percent of Republican voters do not believe Obama was born in the United States. Another poll showed birther support at 42 percent.

This presents Republican leaders in Congress with something of a dilemma. Since many of the party faithful have doubts over Obama’s place of birth, Republican heavyweights have treated the issue with great caution, more so since a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in the first week of April showed Trump tied in second place among potential contenders for the party’s nomination for 2012.

That poll, taken after Trump publicly embraced the birther theory, came as a surprise. Polling experts ascribed his good showing partly to high name recognition. His lavish lifestyle, marriages and divorces, and his changing business fortunes (up-down, down-up) have been tabloid fodder for decades. His show “Celebrity Apprentice” is one of the most widely watched on U.S. television.

Its ratings have gone up since Trump started talking about the president’s birth certificate — one reason why cynics believe that his public pondering of a presidential run is a publicity ploy rather than a desire to restore the world’s remaining superpower to the greatness he says it lost.

If the aim is to profit from publicity, Trump is doing well. According to Nielsen Research Data, the season premiere of his show, in March, drew 7.9 million viewers. That ticked up each time he publicly raised his possible candidature and his doubts over Obama. Last week, viewership stood at 8.64 million. That’s up 9.3 percent from the debut.

Not bad for a possible presidential candidate. Or an accomplished showman.
(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

25 comments

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[...] Trump and the 2012 elections Posted by Apr 12 2011 Devin wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptIt’s 18 months to go to November [...]

Mr. Trump’s numerous corporate bankruptcies should put paid to the idea that he can run anything other than his mouth.

Posted by vinlander | Report as abusive

I’d go with the accomplished showman. The Donald is the best!

The fact that many respondents view him as a serious presidential contender is more a reflection of the rather uninspiring individuals currently aspiring to the GOP leadership than to any belief that Mr. Trump really could pull this off. Newt Gingrich? Mitt Romney? Tim what’s-his-name? C’mon. What a motley crew, indeed, all shades of grey. Mr. Trump would certainly spice it up! Go Donald!

Posted by Elektrobahn | Report as abusive

In the wake of the Arab Spring, it seems highly inappropriate for the billionaire to be bragging about his advantages over other candidates because of his wealth.

Whether Obama is an American citizen or not, a serious potential presidential candidate should be more professional about his comments.

The leader of the free world should not be determined by the size of their cheque book.

Posted by Sean_Ball | Report as abusive

If his african clad Kenyan grandmother says she was there when he was born, what more do we need to know. Would grandma lie about that?

Posted by ponderingitall | Report as abusive

The Donald shelling out 600M of his own is cool. He’s probably leveraged to the hilt and won’t win anyway, but the country can use the stimulus. So he spends a lot, is vain enough to completely nuke his finances, is not going to win even Iowa. In the mean time, all those little cafes and restaurants and bus companies can use the business. He should start in Iowa NOW. Run Trump run.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

Birther issue is not the main point but just a starting point!

The birther issue was the main reason that stirred up the public’s curiosity about a man who became president. When Barack Obama entered into politics he had his past records protected in a veil of secrecy and supposedly paid an estimated million dollars to attorneys to block anyone from viewing his past. Why would a man pay such a high price to prevent others from knowing? Did he cover up a crime or was it something that would contradict his words in his autobiography. We know about all the shady characters he catered to and how at the last minute he skillfully used the media to get him off the hook and used his friends as sacrificial goats for offerings on the alters of the media. The media turned him into a Luke Skywalker that had suddenly fought off the dark force and made him an American hero. Obama has given anyone with common sense a reason to distrust him and there are a lot of people that think a powerful stealthy group was behind this man and put him on the top pick of the Democratic Party. Opening his records could reveal who he really is and who his mentors really are. The loyalists to Obama lash out with rants of racism and the liberal press applies self righteous armor on a man who is on a quest of a social justice experiment using socialism as a formula. His failed experiments from the past two years have put the nation on an irreversible path to bankruptcy. His platform of hope and change has all his followers scratching their heads finding out that the change he brought is far from what they were expecting and now are hoping for something different. A new Man has come up to the plate and has the same skills of playing the media game and selling the public as Obama. That man is Donald Trump and he has nothing to hide. He has announced his concern on the future of America. He has announced his plans of saving American from the bad policies of the past and present. He has shown his distrust of President Obama publically and has started an investigation on the legal birthplace of Obama. The liberals have started attacking Trump but he is skilled in using their publicizing as a tool. Trump’s money can buy a lot of information and the birther issue was just a starting point for him. Trump is a skilled strategist and he will be relentless find out what Obama is covering up. I will expect to see Obama’s enforcer Eric Holder be breathing down Trumps collar. I don’t think anyone has thought of what would happen if Trump exposes a scandal so epic that could force Obama to resign or be impeached. If that happens and Joe Biden were to make Nancy Pelosi his vice president a Republican president would be a shoe in and I would imagine the Senate would gain a Republican majority. Trump’s victory on exposure could be the only way this nation can recover. I don’t think the American people will vote on showmanship like they did the last time, but will elect a person they can completely trust and nothing to hide.

Posted by shoefitter | Report as abusive

I look at it like this, Trump says what he believes. That is alot more then I can say for most politicians. I don’t know if he could actually get elected, but it sure is refreshing to have someone telling us what he believes and what he would do. Sure some of his ideas are out side the box, but that is exactly what we need right now. Heck he may even get my vote and more then likely if its between him and Romney.

Posted by srmcc4754 | Report as abusive

“In the face of much evidence to the contrary.” What nonsense. The truth is that the evidence of Obama’s birth is utterly incontrovertible and has been plainly on display since the beginning. His birth certificate is clearly and incontrovertibly official ans has been attested as such by not one but TWO governors of Hawaii, one of whom was a Republican. Birth announcements have been noted in not one but two newspapers, both of which have noted that they are legitimate. The supposed millions spent in an alleged cover up are the total legal fees paid by the Obama campaign and compare relatively evenly with that of the McCain campaign.

The fact that 51% of Republicans believe that Obama was born somewhere else is terrifying, because it simply proves yet again that when one repeats the lie often enough, it becomes true. Anyone can quite literally be made to believe anything, irrespective of the facts.

Say all you want about what a dreadful President currently occupies the White House; you’ll get no argument from me there. But let’s have an actual debate about issues, rather than trotting out nonsensical conspiracy theories that are nothing more than distractions. The United States is in serious trouble. This is a time for serious discussion.

Trump is a sideshow clown and nothing more. Anyone who would give credence to even a single word that comes out of this blowhard’s mouth is a fool. Anyone who would seriously consider voting for this repulsive shill, this hollow-headed brand-builder, should have his or her citizenship revoked immediately.

Posted by JackMack | Report as abusive

Where are his academic documents? Why are they sealed? What does he have to hide? This is not right.

Posted by dougunruh | Report as abusive

Please understand that “alot” is not a word.

Posted by dougunruh | Report as abusive

I believe Trump will rise in popularity once he picks a credible running mate who is a good administrator and leans a bit to the left.

This would be truly a real independent run demonstrating they are there for American interests not Republican or Democrat. The bickering 2 party yet same agenda politics is killing us all.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

To distinguish between lunatic fringe and the Republican base is a tricky task. When the biggest names are Trump, Palin, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Beck and a host of Tea Party goofs who were mysteriously silent on the nations deficit when it was George W. Bush setting new records five years ago, it would certainly appear that the lunatics are running the asylum.

Posted by mcoleman | Report as abusive

In the beginning of the presidency, i heard Trump say only good things about the president. This switch looks more like a plant to throw the republican party into an even wider disarray. The soup was too bland, a mishmash of mediocre personalities, like Palin,Huckabee, and Bachman and Newt, mixed with a lackluster of serious but weak candidates, required a strong dose of cayenne pepper. That’s Mr Trump.
But if he is real then i would say be careful. He would not be the first politician to lie about what he is going to do, remember hope? And finally, even if he won, i strongly doubt that he would be able to throw his weigh around. He never explained what the Saudis would do or OPEC if he demanded oil at $40 a barrel, or better what he would do if they did not lower the price.

Posted by ofilha | Report as abusive

Grandma was dazed and confused, the translator was dazed and confused and now Americans are dazed and confused.

Posted by ofilha | Report as abusive

My stepfather was a compulsive gambler. He often lost bill money at the blackjack table. Guess who owned his favorite casino? This crazy Trump talk made me so angry that I created the @StopTrump Twitter account, much like the @StopBeck account that just took down The Glenn Beck Circus. But, alas, Twitter suspended @StopTrump after only 106 Tweets. The reason: exceeding the 1,000 Tweets/Day limit–with only 106 posts. Talent. Long Live Free speech for those who can afford it! And Stop Trump! for the love of…

Posted by CharlesBivona | Report as abusive

Donald Trump is a multi-tasker. He is both showman and clown.

Posted by Davetakaki | Report as abusive

People, Bernd gave you a hint here, there is one issue that overrides all others. It’s Campaign Finance Reform (CFR).

As long as elections go to the highest bidder you must forget about any meaningful movement on any of your pet issues.

NO issue of any interest or benefit to the general public will be dealt with in a forthright and straight-ahead manner by any high priced politician. Only the big campaign contributors receive service.

Please stop bantering senselessly about all of your pet issues and instead focus the politicians on CFR. Watch their faces turn ashen when you mention it.

Keep all politicians’ noses to the grindstone on CFR. You tell them what the most pertinent issue is rather than allowing politicians and their think-tank pollsters to define it. The single most important issue, Republican or Democrat, is CFR.

Wikipedia has a backgrounder on Campaign Finance Reform.

Posted by Vertigo | Report as abusive

The U.S. is going down the drain and all they talk about is place of birth. Stick to the important issues.

It was Bush and his cronies who places the U.S. in this quagmire. I wonder why Trump or any Republican questioned Bush education? He cant even speak English.

Posted by outsiderinsider | Report as abusive

You cannot equate wealth with character and leadership. Its true Trump is wealthy but he has no class. The content of the words that originate from his mouth is self-agrandizement and self-serving. When Obama came to office, the country was already in crisis. Eight years of Bush and his cronies has placed the country in a huge hole. The Iraq war cost is in trillions. Obama has only been in office for 2 YEARS. Let him finish his term and then critize and stick to the issues.The U.S. is the only industrialized country with no health care.Think about that.

Posted by outsiderinsider | Report as abusive

[...] USA Today recently reported that President Obama officially kicked off what experts expect to be the nation’s costliest White House battle, an unparalleled fundraising goal of $1 billion. [...]

If I do like Obama, I do not like Donald Trump even more!!!

Posted by mcright | Report as abusive

“The fact that 51% of Republicans believe that Obama was born somewhere else is terrifying, because it simply proves yet again that when one repeats the lie often enough, it becomes true. Anyone can quite literally be made to believe anything, irrespective of the facts.”

Agreed, this is terrifying. The same can be said of the fact that majority of Republicans still believe that giving huge tax cuts to the rich creates jobs, despite three decades of evidence to the contrary. When you give the rich boatloads of extra cash, they don’t just create jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. If there’s no demand for new products and services because the middle class is flat broke, those tax cuts just go into the pockets of the CEOs. The only way you get the rich to create those jobs is to create a demand for the products and services they provide, and that can only happen when the middle class has expendable income, something it hasn’t had in 20 years.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

I don’t see Trump pulling a Whitman and spending his personal fortune to get elected to anything. Trump is a showboat with a huge ego and all of this media attention is just so much free publicity for him and his ridiculous TV show.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive

Wealthy people have lost sight how to energize the economy. Example: Donald Trump avers (Watch his MTV Roasting) to have 7 Billion Dollars and if he would just spend one billion back into the economy. Bill Gates, who has 92 Billion Dollars could spend 5 Billion dollars back into the economy, Warren Buffet, who has 47 Billion Dollars spend five billion back into the economy and there are countless other billionaires, millionaires who could spend billions or millions back into the economy. Those dollar amounts wouldn’t affect them at all. But they won’t do it, because they have to make money investing it instead. Another example: CEOs who would rather accept a 5 to 25 million dollar bonus instead of using that money to save their employee’s jobs. You see America, the wealthy are not in it for the working class, but would rather lay you off and accept their bonuses. The economy would recover if only ‘all of the wealthy people’ started spending some of their wealth. God knows the middleclass doesn’t have enough money to spend any more.

Posted by ExRepublican2 | Report as abusive

Did everyone forget Linda McMahon? She ran for Connecticut’s Senate seat (Senator Dodds) and she spent 50 million dollars (her money) for TV and Radio advertisments. God knows they (TV and Radio agencies) didn’t need her money. She could have easily given each Connecticut voter 10,000 dollars (3.4 million CT residents), meaning she could have energized the Connecticut economy with that money. I say go ahead GOPers let Donald Trump spend your money, he won’t spend his on his campaign for president. He needs a political funds yet he has claimed he has 7 Billion dollars. View his MTV Roasting where he avers 7 Billion!)

Posted by ExRepublican2 | Report as abusive

The Ships’s Voyages…

I feel technologies just causes it to be even worse. Now there’s a channel to hardly ever care, now there would not be a chance for them to discover….