The Trump Card
When Donald Trump showed up at CPAC ’11 I have to admit, I was thinking it was just another stunt to keep the Trump brand in everyone’s vocabulary. Then, when he had the nerve to bluntly tell Ron Paul supporters what nobody else had the guts to tell them, I thought, “This just got a little more interesting.” I wasn’t convinced of Donald’s potential political relevance until the news broke that he was trailing President Obama by two points…TWO POINTS!
If you are a Trump supporter do not get too excited (yet) as currently I see him as electable as he sees Ron Paul. However, I think IF Trump plays his cards right, it could propel him into a position where he could be seen as a legitimate contender, which is something I would have laughed off a few months ago!
In order for “The Donald” to gain some political relevance he has to address these strengths and weaknesses…
Economic Position: This is actually the only issue which is giving Trump the attention he is getting. Every candidate is going to be pressing the economic hot button, of them all, Trump has been the most pointed in his solutions. Defeating China, restoring production and jobs, implementing forms of taxes and tariffs on our importers are great footings for this issue and he is dominant in his stance. There is no political candidate in play with such a bold and actionable plan for economic repositioning, especially with such a forceful voice and presence. Trump’s potential weakness is his strength however! We know he knows money and production, but will the voters think that is all he knows? If so, we may want him for a treasury post, but not the White House.
The Trump Brand: The same thing that made him a household name has also made him a household punch line. “You’re fired”, the hair, the women, and the ego are pop culture imprints that have made him a favorite to watch, but if he is going to win in ’12 he needs to show us a Trump who we don’t just want to watch, but one that we want to follow. In order to do this he needs to start taking stands on non-economic issues and do so publicly.
The difficulty here for Trump is to avoid pulling a “Romney” where you just look like a slick politician who is trying to be relatable but still acts like a politician. Donald needs to build a team around him who want to buck the “political” look and positioning. People are looking for the opposite which is why he is only two points down! If he goes the way of Obama, Romney, and McCain, he will drop from “viable” faster than they will/have because of his existing brand. Conversely, the people are not looking to see Trump in a pair of jeans and driving a pick-up. We know he is a billionaire, dressing him down and having him show up at the county fair would be just as damaging. To play to his image he needs to make it look like all the politicians are actually trying to appear like him, which isn’t hard to do if done correctly. This will allow his billionaire brand to work while still being able to be used to relate to the middle class, something Romney and McCain can’t do!
Avoid Fiscal Conservatives (and old school Republicans): Look, he already has the competition beat on the economic issues. Not only because of Obama’s embarrassing performance but because he has already established solid footing on the economy, China, outsourcing, etc. Nobody has done more to destroy the middle class and export jobs than President Obama. Fiscal Conservatives are making the mistake of focusing solely on fiscal issues, which is ground Obama has already lost for his campaign. If you are going to win the “new” conservatives, freedom loving Democrats, and Tea Partiers, Trump needs to separate himself from the traditional “Republicans” who still think you can have fiscally conservative values without socially conservative values. The elections last November, and the protests in Wisconsin, serve as proof that the two must be married. Separating himself from the traditional fiscal conservatives (who have poor fiscal policy anyway) not only helps him win the base that voted in November, but it also allows him the opportunity to be heard by the working class on things like taxes, job creation, debt elimination, and defeating China. Trump has to avoid the “Rich get Richer” image, especially in his case (billionaire…hello?!) and if presented correctly the fact that he is wealthy can help him.
Taxes: The cat is out of the bag on taxes. Everyone is tired of tax hikes, tax cuts, tax incentives, tax loopholes, and a dozen other tricks the “system” has used to milk us dry. People don’t hate taxes, they hate being taxed! If Trump comes out swinging for the implementation of a flat or fair tax system, he will be ten points up by the time the press conference is over!
Liberty: TSA, Patriot Act, Fusion Centers, Etc. The people from all sides have spoken, we want freedom back! We have realized that the bad guys have more freedom than the good guys who live in the land of the free. When the campaign cycle really kicks into gear the staffs of the other candidates will tell their bosses that while the economy is the number one issue, the truth is, the people want someone who will defend them as much as they defend the banks and the terrorists. “One issue politics” gets congressmen elected but people are looking for a complete package to send to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Donald has no political experience which means if he stands on this issue first, all the other politicians will have to play catch-up as well as explain their past votes which stripped away freedom from the voters of both parties.
Military: President Obama has been seen around the world as the weakest President in generations. Trump, having no military experience, or even vocal positions on military issues, needs to take a strong yet different stance on these issues than the other candidates. Increase training, pay, and resources for our troops while decreasing the deployments which currently span over 100 countries, and re-institute the limits of military operation. This will garner him major support from both political parties’ voting base.
Sovereignty: Repeal the multi-national sell off of America. Take heed to the 30+ states which have either passed or are passing sovereignty legislation. Get rid of this recent U.S.-Canada emergency response team. People and nations prosper when there are boarders and cultures. You cannot have diversity if everyone is the same! Not only will America prosper but so will other nations, which will work well towards Donald’s stated goal of bringing respect back to America.
Terrorism: There are two positions on this issue; the terrorists hate us because we are in their country trying to spread our ways, or, all Muslim people want us dead.
The opening for Trump is to take the logical stance. While our policies may have enhanced the desire to see America fall it does not change the fact that there is a concerted effort, supported by hundreds of millions, to see our great nation become a page in history. Regardless of the reason our enemy is our enemy, they are in fact, our enemy; and until that changes, we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and part of that is to study our enemy and identify them.
The Weak Field: Sarah Palin won’t win. She has become to “media” and less “politic” in the past two years and does not have the time to reverse that image before the election. Ron Paul has some of the most phenomenal positions and is probably the closest to a founding father that we could elect; however, he too will not win. Yes, he won the CPAC straw poll, and to be honest I wouldn’t be sad if he was our president, but there are too many things going against him. Not only that, and this is sad but true, he looks like Mr. Magoo. Wise, kind, right on most of the issues, but not the “look” that people will turn towards after having been through the Obama administration which has made us look weak and fragile. If Ron Paul supporters want a chance at winning they need to put Ron Paul in Jesse Ventura’s body. Either that or spend the next 8 months getting Ron out in the public with a little more attitude and power in his presence.
Romney and Gingrich are too “Politician” and they both have too much baggage. While I admit that Romney looks very Presidential, and that will play a large role in the next election, he is just too Republican, and has a health care problem like Obama.
Herman Cain (possibly my favorite at this point) is another man who I wouldn’t be sad to see in the White House, but I fear he has the wrong team of people around him to make him viable. Both Cain and Paul would have to do some serious branding and running mate alignment to enter the world of possibility.
Huckabee didn’t do what he needed to do in the past two years in order to position himself to win. Pawlenty and Jindal are too Republican for this election cycle. Michele Bachmanm is too radical to find serious backing at this time. She may be a good V.P. to the right candidate but not the headliner. And Chris Christie is to “hot” right now to place in the spotlight.
Interestingly, this leaves a door open (which I didn’t think would exist) for Donald J. Trump.
Running Mate: Because of Trump’s history and public image he will need to be seen with potential running mates as soon as possible and as often as possible. Usually this process comes much later in the cycle and is kicked down the road until some of the major players are eliminated from the game, but in Trump’s case he needs to at least be seen with, name drop, and get support from, people who the nation would see as filling in Trump’s weaknesses. This will be hard to do since they would need to be people who complete Trump, not trump Trump (sorry, had to do it.)
Run for the V.P.: I think Trump would have an easier time of winning if he wasn’t at the top of the ticket his first time on the ballot. Matter of fact, a V.P. slot would be a great opening act for him to gain political real estate in the minds of the voters.
Even if his strategy team is thinking V.P. (and they should be, no matter what), it is important to make a strong run for President based on the above mentioned issues. It will only add to whomever’s ticket he would be paired on. Not only that, it will allow him time to perfect his skills. The one thing Donald has going for him (and this is true to some degree for all candidates) is he doesn’t like to lose. Matter of fact, he hates it. So if he spends 4-8 years learning the trade, perfecting his skills, and showing the world how well he can use the “art of the deal” on a global stage, the road to the White House would become much easier the second time around.
This article is in no way, shape, or form an endorsement of Donald Trump for President. As a behavioral strategist however, I see a unique window for Donald, a window he has toyed with jumping through in the past. If he is ever going to fulfill that dream of being the most powerful man on the planet, this is probably the last chance he will have.
Josh Tolley is a business and behavioral strategist. His latest book, “Quit Your Job or Die: Discover the Importance of Self-Employment” has been a top ten best seller for over 16 weeks. He has been seen on NBC, CBS, on over 100 stations nationwide and he has been heard from coast to coast on the radio. His teachings have been implemented by hundreds of people and dozens of businesses around the globe. He is ranked as one of the top 100 business and personal growth trainers in the world and is the developer of many human interaction technologies and strategies. Josh does take on a VERY limited number of personal clients, to discuss this or to book Josh for a seminar in your area, contact Mike with The Annex Project at 626-893-4917 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about what Josh is up to at www.JoshTolley.com