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Donald J. Trump
for President, Inc.
DonaldTrump  |

...announced exploratory March 18; announced candidacy June 16, 2015
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CitizensForTrump  |
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Conventional Wisdom
- Business experience and accomplishments.
- Straight talking, outspoken.
- Able to self finance his campaign.
- The presence of the mogul in the race will definitely make it interesting.
- Seen as bombastic, egocentric, publicity hound.
- Would not be taken seriously by some.

Notes, Coverage and Speeches
photo of donald trump at cpac 2011 photo of donald trump at cpac 2013 photo of donald trump at cpac 2014
Feb. 10, 2011 - At CPAC.
March 15, 2013 - At CPAC.
March 6, 2014 - At CPAC.

-Victory speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York, NY, Nov. 9, 2016.
-"Understanding The Threat: Radical Islam And The Age Of Terror" at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Aug. 15, 2016.
-"An America First Economic Plan: Winning The Global Competition" at the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit, MI, Aug. 8, 2016.
-Acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, July 21, 2016.
-Address on the stakes of the election at Trump SoHo in New York, NY, June 22, 2016.
-Address on terrorism, immigration and national security at Saint Anselm College's NHIOP in Manchester, NH, June 13, 2016.
-Energy address to Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, ND, May 26, 2016.
-Foreign policy address to The Center for the National Interest, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC, April 27, 2016.
-Announcement speech at Trump Tower, New York, NY, June 16, 2015.
-Speech at Iowa Freedom Summit, Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines, IA, Jan. 24, 2015.
-Speech at the 40th Conservative Political Action Conference, National Harbor, MD, March 15, 2013.

After the final debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 19, Trump headed into the final 20 days of the campaign facing very long odds, and with most pundits predicting a Clinton triumph, even a blowout.  In particular, Trump's refusal in the final debate to say that he would accept the results of the election had generated another wave of criticism.  Nonetheless there remained the prospect of silent support for Trump that was not reflected by the polls. 

In a significant speech on Oct. 22 in Gettysburg, PA, Trump presented what he called a "Contract with the American Voter," in which he outlined plans for his first day and first 100 days in office.  According to the contract, Trump would take immediate steps to "clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC," protect American workers" and "restore security and the constitutional rule of law."  He further presented ten measures he would seek to pass through Congress in the first 100 days, ranging from a "Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act" to a "Clean up Corruption in Washington Act (+)."

Then, on Oct. 28, with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, FBI Director James Comey's letter on potential new Clinton emails reminded voters of questions about Clinton's trustworthiness.  In speeches, Trump described "the criminal and illegal conduct of Hillary Clinton" as "the biggest political scandal since Watergate."  The email story and reports of double-digit premium hikes under Obamacare provided a boost for Trump in the closing week (+), and he warned of a constitutional crisis if she is elected (+).  Instead of the blowout Clinton win some had predicted, the election now appeared nerve-wrackingly close.  Trump brought his campaign to states that had seemed non-competitive such as Michigan, Wisconsin and even Minnesota, doing four and five events per day.

The desire to defeat Hillary Clinton or even "lock her up" is strong among Republicans, but the Trump-Pence campaign faces huge challenges as it seeks to persuade voters.  Trump is campaigning amidst what running mate Mike Pence termed "an avalanche of criticism," criticism in the media, criticism from #NeverTrump Republicans, and certainly criticism from Democrats and their allies.  

Much of the criticism revolves around Trump's temperament and character.  If attacked, Trump hits back, and his insults seem always ready to fly.  Notwithstanding the effects this has on civil discourse, in some instances it may be best to hold fire, to not respond or to deliberate.  The notion that Trump could be goaded into precipitate action undergirds Democrats' argument that he is too dangerous a figure to be elected.  Trump's protracted spat with the Khan family following Khizr Khan's address at the Democratic National Convention was a prime example. 

Trump supporters like that he is not a politician who weighs every word and statement, but the downside of that is there is a whole catalog of controversial statements he has made over the years that are or can be construed as racist, misogynistic or otherwise damaging.  The video clip from the primaries of Trump appearing to mock a disabled reporter has used in numerous attack ads.  Trump's role in the birther movement has resurfaced as an issue in September.  Another straw fell on October 7, when the Washington Post released a 2005 recording of Trump making lewd comments in Access Hollywood outtakes.  Trump responded with a statement, "This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not event close.  I apologize if anyone was offended."  Trump has managed to survive many other controversies, but this appeared to mark the end of any  chance Trump may have had of winning.  Some Republicans withdrew their support, others were harshly critical, and there were calls for Trump to drop out (+).  RNC chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement, “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.” 

There is also a whole constellation of issues about Trump's business practices and finances (+).  Trump is a non-traditional candidate, a businessman, and his business success is central to his appeal.  Trump's refusal to release his tax returns is an issue that continues to pop up (+).  Additionally, Trump has not set out how he would avoid conflicts of interest with his business empire if he were elected president.  Trump and his campaign have repeatedly attacked the Clinton Foundation as an example of pay to play.  Trump has his own foundation issues, as he came under fire for using charitable foundation funds to settle business lawsuits, apparently violating IRS rules.  Trump University is also a problem for Trump.  Democrats and their allies have also pointed to instances where he has stiffed contractors who worked on some of his projects.

The weakness of the campaign's ground game and field organization compared to that on the Democratic side has been much commented upon.  Trump's campaign is frequently described as "lean," one might even say anorexic, and it has far fewer staff than does the Clinton campaign.  Balancing that out, the RNC notes that it has built up a field organization that it says far surpasses its 2012 efforts (+).  Trump has also been very sporadic with his paid advertising; the campaign allowed Democrats and their allies to hammer away at him for several months unanswered, portraying him as a dangerous figure, unfit to be president. 

The most disillusioning aspect of Trump's campaign was that it made for an election not about policy differences, but about Trump.  Trump's policy chops appeared very thin, but rather than doing his homework and learning the issues he relied on catch phrases repeated over and over.  Trump has been called out repeatedly for lying (+).  The net result is that Trump's policy pronouncements often amount to a kind of "word salad."  While Clinton offers plenty of policy proposals and plans, Trump's flaws have allowed Clinton and her campaign a free skate on the broader argument that Trump is unfit.

Trump's candidacy posed a huge quandry for Republicans.  Despite his attempts at unity, many Republicans and conservatives cast about for alternatives.  Their options included writing in somebody, backing the Libertarian campaign headed by former Republican Govs. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld or the independent candidacy of Evan McMullin, voting for Hillary Clinton, or skipping the presidential vote altogether.   The Kasichs and Bushs of the party refused to support Trump.  (Sen. Ted Cruz was also on that list, but he finally came around and endorsed Trump on Sept. 23 (+)).  Others announcing they would not back Trump included Sally Bradshaw, a top advisor to Jeb Bush, Maria Comella, a former top aide to Gov. Christie, and 50 former Republican national security officials in an Aug. 8 open letter (+).  On Aug. 10 the Clinton campaign announced an outreach effort for Republicans and independents which had attracted close to 50 former officials and other leaders (+).  On Oct. 6, 30 former Republican members of Congress announced they would not vote for Trump (+).  The Access Hollywood recording firestorm on Oct 7 prompted some Republicans who had endorsed Trump to withdraw their support.  On Oct. 10 House Speaker Paul Ryan, while not rescinding his endorsement, told members of the House Republican Conference that he woulldn't defend Trump or campaign with him.  On Oct. 22 the Log Cabin Republicans PAC declined to endorse Trump (+). 

In the three weeks following the conventions premonitions of electoral disaster peaked as polls consistently showed Trump lagging behind Clinton.  Trump suggested the election might be rigged, and he continued blaming the media.  For example on Aug. 14 he tweeted, "If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn't put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%."  An "it's over" narrative was growing.  Some in the #NeverTrump camp still hoped that Trump might be replaced as the party's nominee (+).  An Aug. 15 Wall Street Journal editorilal "Trump's Self-Reckoning" concluded that Trump "needs to stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be President--or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence."   On Aug. 17 Trump announced a campaign shake-up, bringing in a controversial figure for campaign CEO and a new campaign manager (+), and campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned a couple of days later amid mounting questions over his business dealings with the Ukraine. 

By mid-August, Trump seemed to show signs of message discipline starting with major speeches on the economy (+), the threat of radical Islam (+) and law and order (+), as well as one in which he offered an apology of sorts (+).  The campaign, seeing that it cannot cede entire demographic groups and win, started outreach efforts toward African-American and Hispanic voters.  Trump incorporated specific passages in his speeches and held events targeted towards those communities.  Although there have been awkward moments and critics question his genuineness, he has kept at it (1, 2, 3).  Also in August, on Aug. 19 Trump's campaign finally went up with TV ads.  Trump's campaign has not done as well as Clinton's in fundraising, but he has sufficient resources to compete (+).  By the latter part of September, heading into the first debate, Trump could again point to at least some positive polls. 

However, that period before the first debate marked the apex.  Trump's uneven performance in the first debate was not well received.  After the debate the story of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado filled the news for about a week.  Clinton had brought up Machado at the end of the debate, recounting how Trump had called her "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping."  Trump could not let this go, and in interviews and Tweets he managed to stretch out the story for days (Clinton called it the "Machado meltdown") until the New York Times story on his 1995 tax records grabbed the headlines starting on Oct. 1.  That was followed by the Oct. 7 Washington Post revelation of a 2005 recording Access Hollywood outtakes in which Trump made lewd comments.  On Oct. 12 the New York Times reported groping allegations [PDF], and more such stories followed.  It was interesting that all this dirt emerged in the final month of the campaign.  Nonetheless it appeared a Trump train wreck was unfolding day by day.  A Time magazine cover story depicted "total meltdown," and predictions of a blowout election and an "it's over" narrative again took hold among many observers with four weeks still to go.  Trump pressed on, maintaining a full schedule of rallies.  He argued, "The election is being rigged by corrupt media, pushing completely false allegations and outright lies, in an effort to elect her [Clinton] President (+)."  In the final debate Trump's refusal to say that he would accept the election results drew condemnation from most quarters and dominated the headlines coming out of the encounter.

Trump has alienated so many groups that a win appears wildly improbable, but the race is not over until the votes are counted.  2016 is change election year and Hillary Clinton is a quintessential establishment politician.  Clinton has her own set of negatives, from email issues that just seem to keep popping up to questions about her health.  WkiLeaks revelations have provided fresh fodder.  Trump has highlighting Clinton's vulnerabilities in darkly negative ads, daily "Crooked Hillary Question of the Day" emails, and other communications on the Clinton emails and Clinton Foundation developments of the day.  On Oct. 11, following Speaker Ryan's distancing, Trump tweeted, "It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to."  Even if Trump were an ideal candidate, in the view of most analysts he faces a path to 270 electoral votes considerably more difficult than that of Hillary Clinton, as it appears that he will have to win a state such as Pennsylvania or Michigan which has not gone Republican in recent cycles.  

Trump's candidacy has had a cultural impact.  On August 18, a lot of buzz arose not from anything Trump said, but from the appearance of five ugly life-size naked statues of Trump in cities around the country (Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle).  An "anarchist artist collective" INDECLINE came up with the idea for the works, titled "The Emperor Has No Balls," (>) produced by an artist "Ginger."  Around this time panhandlers were spotted in Santa Monica, Calif. using Trump-themed pleas for money; one man's cardboard sign read "Give $$$ or I will vote for Trump." (1, 2, >)

Donald Trump's win in the May 3 Indiana primary knocked out his two remaining challengers, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and made him the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.  In the lead up to the Convention in Cleveland on July 18-21 he faced the huge challenge of trying to unite a very divided party as he looked ahead to carrying the Republican banner against "Crooked Hillary" in the Fall.

Trump worked on unity, but controversies continued to crop up.  For example, on May 12 Trump spent half a day in Washington; he met with Speaker Paul Ryan, who had not yet endorsed him (+), and with Republican House leaders at RNC headquarters, with Sen. Mitch McConnell and top Republican Senators at the NRSC, and he made a stop at Jones Day, the law firm of his campaign counsel.  Trump tweeted, "Great day in D.C. with @SpeakerRyan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well!"  But the same day the news was filled with stories that a longtime former butler to Trump had made death threats to President Obama, and other stories questioning Trump's refusal to release his tax returns.  Critics sought to make a major issue of the tax returns (+), but Trump seems unlikely to budge, citing an ongoing audit and then declaring, "It's none of your business."  Trump filed a personal financial disclosure form with the FEC, noting it is "the largest in the history of the FEC (+)."  The taxes issue may well reappear from time to time as the campaign progresses (+).

Another Trump-related media flurry from May revolved around Trump posing as his own spokesman in the past using the names John Barron or John Miller.  Violence by anti-Trump protesters marred Trump's June 2 rally in San Jose, California.  In early June, Trump's remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, overseeing a case on Trump University, set off another frenzy (+).  Trump's speech on June 13 in response to the mass shooting in Orlando was seen as self-centered and was poorly received.  Also on June 13 Trump announced that he was "revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post" (+).  A July 2 tweet "Crooked Hillary -- Makes History!" showing a six-pointed star and stacks of money raised charges of anti-Semitism; Trump countered by tweeting "Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!"

Regardless of the controversies that pop up continually, there were questions about whether Trump would be able to mount a competitive general election campaign.  As June began his campaign organization appeared tiny and ramshackle compared to the large, sophisticated and well-tuned Clinton organization.  Pollitico reported that as of the end of April the Clinton campaign had ten times more staff than the Trump campaign.  In a June 13 tweet, Politico's Glenn Thrush quipped that Trump has "the organizational support and policy infrastructure of a food truck."  On June 20 Trump finally fired his controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.  FEC reports that came out the next day showed Trump's campaign had just $1.3 million in cash on hand as June began compared to more than $42 million for the Clinton campaign (+).   While several super PACs supporting Trump have formed, it is unclear which, if any, are sanctioned, potentially undermining those efforts.  As June progressed, the Trump campaign brought on additional staff, and significantly ramped up its fundraising (+).

Meanwhile the general election anti-Trump ad barrage began on May 17 when the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action launched a couple of spots in four battleground states.  Democrats and their allies have numerous possible lines of attack on Trump, some of which were tried during the primaries.  A 200-plus page DNC opposition research file on Trump surfaced in mid-June [PDF], after the DNC's computer network was hacked.  The report detailed such narratives as "Trump has no core," "Divisive and offensive campaign," "bad businessman," and "dangerous and irresponsible policies."  ABC News reported that in June the Clinton campaign its allies, particularly Priorities USA Action, spent a total of $20 million more on TV advertising than the Trump campaign and its allies.

Trump sought to  appeal to conservatives.  On May 18 he released a list of 11 people he would consider as potential Supreme Court nominees (+).  In June he addressed the Faith & Freedom Coalition's “Road To Majority” conference and spoke to faith leaders (+).  Trump has been gaining support from some former critics.  Former Gov. Rick Perry endorsed Trump on May 5.  In late May Sen. Marco Rubio signalled he would vote for Trump.  Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed him on June 2.  However, there was also a steady trickle of conservatives who said they could not support Trump (George Will and former RNC chair Marc Racicot, for example) and quite a few Republican governors declined to endorse Trump. 

Trump's selection of Gov. Mike Pence, announced in a July 15 tweet (+), also aimed to appeal to conservatives.  Many names figured in vice presidential speculation.  In the first part of July Trump met with Pence and Sen. Joni Ernst (IA) and he did events with Sen. Bob Corker (TN), who later took his name out of consideration, and with former Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL), Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn were also mentioned. 

Efforts to deny Trump the nomination continued right to the Convention in Cleveland (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as former rivals Carson, Christie and Perry (and Rubio via video) and other elected officials took to the stage in support of Trump, but Sen. Ted Cruz's non-endorsement garnered headlines, and home state Gov. John Kasich did not even speak at the Convention. 

When Trump announced back on June 15, 2015 few took him seriously, yet by May 3, 2016 he had outlasted sixteen challengers and stood as the presumptive nominee.  Trump withstood controversy after controversy that had pundits predicting the end of his campaign.  He dominated the media; on March 15 the New York Times, citing data from mediaQuant, reported that from Feb. 2015 on Trump had gained $1.898 billion in free media attention, more than double the amount of the nearest other candidate, Hillary Clinton.  Trump occupied the center position on stage in all of the debates except the Jan. 28, 2016 debate in Des Moines, which he opted to skip.  And, Trump enjoyed undeniable electoral success.  He followed his win in the April 19 New York primary by sweeping all five of the April 26 primaries in Northeast states, increasing his delegate lead over Ted Cruz to more than 400 delegates (the New York Times and the Washington Post put it at 953 to 546 with 171 for Rubio and 153 for Kasich).  All told during the primary season Trump garnered just over 14 million total votes (+), winning 37 contests including the final 16 contests, all primaries.   Cruz, his nearest competitor, garnered 7.8 million votes, winning 11 contests                  

How did Trump do it?  The starting point was a lot of voters fed up with politicians, and Trump provide a ready vehicle to poke establishment politicians in the eye.  The fact that there were a large number of credible candidates running and that Republicans were unable to settle on or unite behind one of them was critical to Trump's success; it was a matter of mainstream Republican candidates dividing the vote and Trump conquering. 

Trump started out his electoral path with a small setback in Iowa, where he finished second to Ted Cruz.  He then won the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucuses.  On March 1, Trump won in seven of 11 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia).  On March 15, Trump trounced Marco Rubio in Rubio's home state of Florida forcing him to exit the race and leaving only Ted Cruz ("Lyin' Ted") and John Kasich to challenge him.  All this was accomplished with a rickety campaign organization, a message that stuck to a few endlessly repeated points (building the wall, bad trade deals, ISIS), and huge amounts of free media

After a slow start, conservative and Republican critics really began to pile on the attacks on Trump.  In January National Review ran a special "Against Trump" issue.  At the Feb. 25, 2016 debate in Houston, Rubio and Cruz went after him, and their direct and forceful attacks appeared to shake Trump.  (Trump dismissed them as "lightweight Rubio" and "Lying Ted.")  Outside groups such as Our Principles PAC, formed by Katie Packer [PDF], Make America Awesome, headed by Liz Mair [PDF], Club for Growth Action and American Future Fund have run many hard-hitting ads.  In a March 3 speech 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney weighed in labeling Trump a "fraud."  Trump had been scheduled to address CPAC on the morning of March 5, but pulled out the day before.  In addition to his conservative critics, Trump also faced protests from the left (+). 

Trump endured a particularly rough patch at the end of March and the first half of April, and the foundations of his campaign appeared very shaky.  On March 29 Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery over an incident involving reporter Michelle Fields earlier in the month at a Florida event (+)  [Lewandowski was cleared on April 13].  In a March 30 interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Trump suggested that if abortion became illegal, "There has to be some form of punishment" (for the women); his campaign issued a clarification, but he clearly had not thought through the issue (+).  A CNN headline declared "3 positions on abortion in 3 hours."  On April 5 he lost the Wisconsin primary by 13-point margin, and Ted Cruz sought to portray the win as a major turning point in the campaign. 

On April 5 a Politico article presented a picture of a campaign in turmoil.  "Multiple staffers and advisors left the campaign last month in protest of the way its management was treating its staff," Politico reported.  Deficiences in his campaign organization were becoming apparent.  The poll numbers that Trump loves to cite looked great, but the basics of building organizations in later states, lining up support and reaching out to mainstream Republicans, and tracking delegates appeared to have been neglected.  While all those negative ads were driving up Trump's negatives, his campaign did not put out countering messages, relying instead on all that free media.  Several articles even questioned whether Trump actually wanted to be president.  

Trump brought on a couple of veteran political operatives, Paul Manafort (announced March 29) and Rick Wiley (announced April 13).  He secured a solid win in the April 19 primary in his home state of New York and swept the April 26 contests in Northeast states.

The $64,000 question in March and April was whether Trump would be able to achieve the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.  The prospect of a contested convention seemed quite possible, even probable, and Trump did not appear to be well positioned to emerge as the nominee.  Although skeptics and the #NeverTrump forces continued to doubt and deny that Trump could get to 1,237 (memo [PDF]) and that he could ever actually be the GOP nominee, by the end of April Trump was preclaiming himself the presumptive nominee, and his win in the Indiana primary made it official.

Throughout, Trump has continued getting into controversies.  In a Feb. 28 interview on CNN he seemed to equivocate about renouncing support of former KKK grand wizard David Duke.  In the March 3 debate he talked about his hand size.  In late March he was involved in an unseemly spat with Ted Cruz over their wives.  There were concerns that Trump's campaign was creatling an atmosphere of not only division, but of violence.  At a March 9 rally in Fayetteville, a Trump supporter punched a protester.  The scene at a rally planned for Chicago on the evening of March 11 grew so contentious that Trump canceled the event (+).  Also on March 29 at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Trump said he would no longer hold to his pledge to support the Republican nominee.  "I have been treated very unfairly, I think, by basically the RNC, the Republican party, the establishment," he stated.  In April as the Cruz campaign outmanoeuvered him and picked up delegates in a number of states Trump argued that the Republican system was rigged.

As disconcerting as Trump's controversial statements are, questions about his policy chops have raised red flags as well.  Ideas such as Trump's signature wall, his oft-repeated pledge that the United States should "take the oil" in the Mideast, his threat of 45-percent tariffs on Chinese goods and his proposed ban on Muslims all have potentially serious downsides.  The muddle over Trump's position on abortion at the end of March raised the question of whether he even knows what he is talking about some of the time.  The fact that Trump was able to get through 13 primary debates relatively unscathed suggest that the format of these debates might be reconsidered.  Foreign policy was an area of particular concern.  In a March interview with "Morning Joe"  Trump stated, "I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff."  A week or so later Trump released the names of some of his foreign policy advisors and the response was dismissive.  On April 27 Trump delivered a major foreign policy address in Washington, DC, and the reactions were decidely mixed.

Trump's big challenge looking ahead will be to unify the Republican Party (+).  During the primaries he gained just a handful of endorsements from top elected officials, most notably a timely endorsement from Gov. Chris Christie on Feb 26.  On March 11 former challenger Ben Carson endorsed him.  As the Trump reality set in, some talked about sitting out the presidential race and focusing on saving the Senate and the House; a few such as Erick Erickson and Bill Kristol looked into the possibility of running a third party candidate; and others even considered supporting Hillary Clinton.  Republicans are worried about the effects Trump could have on down ticket races, while Democrats are painting rosy scenarios.  DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared that one targeted congressman would be "wearing Donald Trump's candidacy around his neck like an albatross."  The DCCC website has numerous press releases linking Republican candidates to Trump (for example a May 4 release on CA-7 featured the lede: "With Cruz and Kasich out, Sheriff Scott Jones faces the harsh reality he’s sharing the ballot with Donald Trump.")  A New Hampshire Democratic Party memo made the case that "Donald Trump will drag down NH Republicans this November (+)."  Clinton campaign releases highlighted many Republican elected officials and conservatives who would not commit to supporting Trump, making the point that "Trump is too big a risk for America (+)."  One can expect to hear that refrain repeated over and over and over in the six months to Election Day.

- This time it's real.  Donald Trump, who has dabbled with running for president before, announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015 vowing to "make America great again."  "I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created," Trump declared.  Trump portrayed himself as a tough negotiater who can get things done.  In a theatrical touch he presented a financial statment putting his net worth at $8.7 billion [PDF].  However, in the weeks following Trump's entry it was his remarks on Mexicans which reverberated throughout the political discussion creating a full-scale mini-drama as Univision, NBC and Macy's cut ties, Trump responded with a $500 million lawsuit, and other politicians weighed in (1, 2, 3).  On July 15, Trump filed his personal financial disclosure statement with the FEC, a move which some naysayers had doubted would happen.  The press release noted, "This report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth (+)."  Trump's second big  kerfuffle came at the FAMILY Leader Summit in Ames on July 18 when he remarked of Sen. John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.”  On July 21 during an event in Bluffton, SC, Trump again made news as he gave out Sen. Lindsey Graham's cell phone number.  Trump also made a high profile visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, TX on July 23. 

The Huffington Post on July 17, terming Trump's campaign "a sideshow," "we have decided we won't report on Trump's campaign as part of The Huffington Post's political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section."

Heading into the first debate in Cleveland on August 6, Trump was the focus of much attention.  By virtue of his poll numbers (+), Trump was positioned in the middle of the stage.  The moderators seemed to have it in for him.  Brett Baier's first question to the candidates was, "Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person."  Trump was the only one to raise his hand, drawing boos from the audience.  Commentators have pointed out that he could have explained that he would pledge to support the nominee if the Republican Party treated him fairly.  However it was a later exchange and its after effects which seems more damaging.  When Megyn Kelly asked about Trump's remarks on women, Trump joked about Rosie O'Donnell, then explained, "I don't frankly have time for total political correctness" and "oftentimes it's fun, it's kidding."  Then in an interview on CNN Trump made a statement about Kelly that crossed lines, drawing more criticism and prompting Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, to disinvite him from the RedState Gathering (+). 

Trump's theatrical touch was on display during his visit to the Iowa State Fair on August 15, as he provided free helicopter rides for kids.  On a more serious note, the next day Trump's campaign issued its first policy statement, offering a plan for "immigration reform that will make America great again (+)."  On September 3 Trump reversed his position taken at the Cleveland debate and signed an RNC loyalty pledge (+).

Controversies continued to pop up.  In an August 26 press conference Univision's Jorge Ramos shouted a question/lecture at Trump, who told him to sit down because he hadn't been called upon; Ramos continued and security escorted him out.  In a Rolling Stone cover story the reporter quotes Trump as saying of Carly Fiorina, "Look at that face!  Would anyone vote for that?"  Trump took some hits during the September 16 debate at Reagan Library, but thanks in large measure to his presence on the stage, that debate produced  the biggest ratings in CNN history.  Trump also took heat for not pushing back against an antii-Muslim questioner at a town hall in Rochester, NH on September 17.  Meanwhile Trump's insults continued to flow; at the Value Voters Summit he termed Marco Rubio a "clown," drawing boos from the audience.  Trump has also backed out of several events (1, 2).  On November 21 at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama he claimed to have seen people celebrating in Jersey City following the September 11 terrrorist attacks.  On November 24 at rally in South Carolina Trump appeared to mock a disabled reporter, prompting more criticism.  On December 7 he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on (+)."

Trump's fellow candidates have taken varying approaches to dealing with the pugnacious billionaire.  Former Gov. Rick Perry delivered a speech on "Defending Conservatism Against the Cancer of Trump-ism" on July 22.  Former Gov. Jeb Bush was a frequent Trump target; on September 1 his campaign put up a "The Real Donald Trump" video.  Bush never was able to recover from Trump's characterization of him as "low energy."  Sen. Ted Cruz tried the positive approach, appearing with Trump at a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the Capitol on September 9.  On September 10 Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered a broadside against Trump, terming him a narcissist (+).  In an interview with NPR's "Morning Edition" that aired on September 28 Sen. Marco Rubio said he did not want to be "a member or a part of his [Trump's] freak show."  In late November, Gov. John Kasich entered the fray, for example his campaign released a video "Is He Worthy?" which showed some of our most prominent presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan and asked "Is someone like Donald Trump really worthy of following in their footsteps?"

Trump's success, as with that of Dr. Ben Carson and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, comes from his non-politician status.
Nonetheless in mid-September Club for Growth Action, which had earlier tangled with Trump (+), launching a critical advertising campaign (+), labeling him "just another politician" and "the worst kind of politician."  The Wall Street Journal on November 20 reported on formation of an opposition group, Trump Card LLC, headed by Liz Mair, who was online communications director at the RNC in 2008.

Trump's detractors have been quick to dismiss his candidacy, even before he entered, and have predicted the end of his campaign many, many times, but he keeps plowing forward.  On September 28 he announced "tax reform that will make America great again (+)."  Trump came out with a new book; Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again (Threshold Editions, Oct. 27) featured a photo of a glowering Trump on the cover.  As winter started Trump remained the frontrunner in national polls, but there remained a huge undercurrent of skepticism that he could ever actually become the GOP nominee.

In the first three months of the year Trump's effort geared up as he started hiring political staff.  On March 18 he announced he was forming an exploratory committee (+).  He also opted not to renew the contract for his reality TV show "Apprentice." 

At the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, Trump stated, "So if I run for president and if I win, I would totally succeed in: creating jobs; defeating ISIS and stopping the Islamic terrorists--and you have to do that; reducing the budget deficit--so important, have to do it; securing our Southern border--and I mean seriously securing it; stopping nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere; saving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...[continues]."

Looking at his Twitter stream daily one saw dozens of Tweets such as "A Trump presidency would MAKE U.S GREAT AGAIN, MAKE MADE IN USA #1 , put more $$$ in pocket of EVERY AMERICAN" ... "You are the best choice to turn around the country." ... "Please save America!  The country has over $18 trillion in debt!..." ... "Mr. Trump IS 'Mr. NYC' Let's make him 'Mr. President'  I am ready to work-it to get you in."

2014 - The year included a couple of visits to New Hampshire and a visit to Iowa.

- On May 27, 2013 the New York Post reported that, "Donald Trump has spent more than $1 million on electoral research for a potential presidential run in 2016."

Background - Trump considered seeking the Reform Party nomination in 2000, joinIng the party in Oct. 1999 and coming out with a policy book, The America We Deserve (Jan. 2000), but he dropped the effort in Feb. 2000 declaring the Reform Party "a total mess." 

In late 2010 and the first part of 2011 Trump looked like he might seek the Republican nomination.  He told FOX News on Oct. 5, 2010 that he was thinking about running for president.  Associates launched a "Should Trump Run?" website, and, Trump spent several months "unofficially campaigning" (+), including waging a successful effort to get President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate on April 27.  However on May 16 he announced that, "Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."  In Dec. 2011 Trump issued another policy book, Time to Get Tough (Regnery).  He ended up endorsing Mitt Romney in Feb. 2012.  In Oct. 24, 2012 Trump made a more news with his "major announcement" that if President Obama released his college and passport records he would give to a charity or charities of Obama's choice a check for $5 million (>).


Ann Coulter.  Aug. 23, 2016.  IN TRUMP WE TRUST: E Pluribus Awesome!  New York: Sentinel [Penguin Random House imprint].
"Donald Trump isn’t a politician — he’s a one-man wrecking ball against our dysfunctional and corrupt establishment. We’re about to see the deluxe version of the left’s favorite theme: Vote for us or we’ll call you stupid. It’s the working class against the smirking class...  Now Ann Coulter, with her unique insight, candor, and sense of humor, makes the definitive case for why we should all join his revolution."

Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher.  Aug. 23, 2016.  TRUMP REVEALED: An American Journey of Amibition, Ego, Money, and Power.  New York: Scribner. [Simon& Schuster]
"Trump Revealed will offer the most thorough and wide-ranging examination of Donald Trump’s public and private lives to date, from his upbringing in Queens and formative years at the New York Military Academy, to his turbulent careers in real estate and entertainment, to his astonishing rise as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. The book will be based on the investigative reporting of more than two dozen Washington Post reporters and researchers who will leverage their expertise in politics, business, legal affairs, sports, and other areas."

David Cay Johnston.  Aug. 2, 2016.  The MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP.  Brooklyn, NY:
Melville House.
"In the culmination of nearly 30 years of reporting on Donald Trump, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston takes a revealingly close look at the mogul’s rise to power and prominence...  Drawing on decades of interviews, financial records, court documents, and public statements, David Cay Johnston, who has covered Trump more closely than any other journalist working today, gives us the most in-depth look yet at the man who would be president."

Ted Rall.  July 19, 2016.  TRUMP: A Graphic Biography.  New York: Seven Stories Press.

"Trump's life story is told, going all the way back to his origins growing up a rich kid in the NY suburbs. Rall shows how Trump taps into a longing among many Americans for a strongman. He doesn't make many promises; his supporters don't expect many. He'll Make America Great Again. Somehow. Trust me, he says. And they do."

G.B. Trudeau.  YUGE!  30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.  Riverside, NJ: Andrews McMeel Publishing.
"He tried to warn us. Ever since the release of the first Trump-for-President trial balloon in 1987, Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau has tirelessly tracked and highlighted the unsavory career of the most unqualified candidate to ever aspire to the White House. It’s all there--the hilarious narcissism, the schoolyard bullying, the loathsome misogyny, the breathtaking ignorance; and a good portion of the Doonesbury cast has been tangled up in it."

Donald J. Trump.  Oct. 27, 2015.  CRIPPLED AMERICA: How to Make America Great Again.  New York: Threshold Editions [Simon & Schuster imprint].
"This book is my blueprint for how to Make America Great Again. It’s not hard. We just need someone with the courage to say what needs to be said. We won’t find that in Washington, DC."

Michael D'Antonio.  Oct. 6, 2015.  NEVER ENOUGH: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success.  New York: Thomas Dunne Books [St. Martin's Press imprint].
"Drawing upon exclusive interviews and detailed research, Michael D'Antonio presents the full story of Donald Trump, a man who, for all of his excesses, is perfectly adapted to our world."  ...publication originally planned for early 2016.

Trump has written more than a dozen books.  These three are particularly noteworthy...

Donald J. Trump.  Dec. 5, 2011.  TIME TO GET TOUGH: Making America #1 Again.  Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing.
“I love America. I’m saddened by what I see happening to our country. We’re being humiliated, pushed around, disrespected, and badly abused. Obama was a leftist experiment that has failed and gone horribly wrong, and everyone knows it. Even friends of mine who voted for the guy privately admit that he’s been a huge disappointment. We cannot afford four more years of this mess. Our children’s futures are on the line—and we have to come through for them. We have to get tough so that our country can be great again.”

Donald Trump with Dave Shiflett.  Jan. 1, 2000.  THE AMERICA WE DESERVE. New York: Renaissance Books
"My first reason for writing this book is that the American people want straight talke about politics.  Whatever my ultimate decision about actively seeking the presidency, I'd encourage you to take the problems identified in this book and the solutions I propose and compare them with those of your favorite candidate."

Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz.  1987.  TRUMP: The Art of the Deal.  New York: Ballantine Books [Random House imprint]
"He isolates the common elements in his greatest deals; he shatters myths; he names names, spells out the zeros, and fully reveals the deal-maker's art.  An throughout Trum talks--really talks--about how he does it.  Trump: The Art of the Deal is an unguarded look at the mind of a brillian entrepreneur and an unprecedented education in the practice of deal-making.  It's the most streetwise busines book there is--and the ultimate read for anyone interested in money and success."

Todd Gitlin.  "Donald Trump's secret for avoiding hard questions."  The Washington Post, May 12, 2016.

Stephanie Cegielski.  "An Open Letter to Trump Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector." xojane.com, Mar. 28, 2016.
[Top strategist is an exaggeration, but this does give insights into the pro-Trump super PAC that was quashed in October.]

McKay Coppins.  "36 Hours On The Fake Campaign Trail With Donald Trump."  BuzzFeed, Feb. 13, 2014.
[This article gained considerable notoriety; in several Tweets Trump denounced "third rate @BuzzFeed site & slimebag reporter McKay Coppins" and termed it "true garbage with no credibility.  Record setting crowds & speech not reported."]

screen grab of trump exploratory committee website

The Donald J. Trump
Exploratory Committee


One of the big questions of the 2016 campaign is the effect Trump's candidacy will have on the Republican Party.  While Trump has the potential for drawing out new voters, many observers foresee electoral disaster (as illustrated by the March 18, Aug. 19, Oct. 21 and Nov. 4 covers of The Week).  There is a real possibility of a Democratic blowout, yet this is an election which, given Hillary Clinton's unpopularity, Republicans ought to have a good chance of winning.  If a blowout does occur, Republicans may refer to Gen.25 Verses 29 to 34:
    [29] Once when Jacob was boiling pottage, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.
    [30] And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red pottage, for I am famished!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.)
    [31] Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright."
    [32] Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
    [33] Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
    [34] Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
  this page last revised November 1, 2016