Trump vs. Giuliani
No, they are not running against each other. But in August 2007, Giuliani had an even more commanding lead in the polls than Trump does today. Why couldn’t Giuliani carry his lead to the finish line, and what does that say about whether Trump can do it?
I believe that there were two factors that killed Giuliani. The first one, I am unhappy to say, is that he proclaimed himself to be pro-choice, and there are just too many single-issue anti-abortion Republican primary voters for a pro-choice candidate to have a chance.
The second reason is that Giuliani didn’t have much of a message and wasn’t a very good debater.
Neither of these factors apply to Trump. Trump says he is pro-life, and in fact has demonstrated that in a big way by supporting shutting down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood. If anything, Trump has gone over-the-top with this and will turn off pro-choice voters in the general election. Mitt Romney was able to win the nomination even though he was pro-life before he was pro-choice and never made abortion a big campaign issue. The litmus test for Republican electability is just saying that you are pro-life, so Trump has passed that test for sure.
Trump also has a big message, which is that America is declining as a nation and the reason is professional politicians who are good at getting elected but bad at doing anything useful after they win office. And he has made illegal immigration a big issue, and staked out a position to the right of every other Republican candidate. Critics will say that Trump’s message has no details, but history has shown that details are not necessary for getting elected. Maybe they are a small plus factor, but they are in no way essential.
The conventional wisdom about why Trump’s candidacy will fail has two related prongs: (1) they say he’s not a “serious” candidate; and (2) they assume that he will make some gaffe that will kill off his campaign.
Let’s address the seriousness factor first. I personally said that Trump is a bozo, and bozos lack the gravitas needed to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. So one of the things that Trump needs to nail in tomorrow’s debate is that he needs to look presidential.
Many commenters at my blog have opined that Trump himself doesn’t take his candidacy seriously, and he is just doing it for the attention because he’s an attention whore, and he plans to drop out after he has his fun. I don’t think that’s true. The idea of being President of the United States is intoxicating to a lot of people who think they have a legitimate chance of attaining that position, and I believe it’s that way with Trump who is a braggart and wants to show other billionaires that he’s more successful than they are. What better way to be remembered forever than to be President of the United States?
The abortion issue previously discussed actually indicates that Trump is serious. He has conveniently changed his earlier pro-choice position to his current pro-life position in order to win the votes of Republican primary voters. Despite claiming that he is unlike other politicians who look at opinion polls to figure out what his position should be, he is actually acting just like a politician. Even his anti-illegal-immigrant stance could just be about looking at surveys and discovering that the average American is far to the right of politicians on this issue. Trump may see the anti-immigration issue as a massively undervalued property that other real-estate developers are too stupid to notice.
Can Trump go another fifteen months without making a campaign-killing gaffe? Despite Trump’s big personality, I don’t think he could have been successful in business without being able to control himself when he needs to. And furthermore, Trump already appears to have a Teflon nature about him. The mainstream media was gleeful after his remarks about McCain not being a hero. They thought he had already made his campaign-killing gaffe. They were wrong. Trump’s poll numbers are higher today than they were when Trump made the McCain comments.
It should be pointed out that instead of groveling and apologizing like so many other politicians would do (which never works out well), Trump refused to apologize and doubled down by claiming that he supports veterans and the armed forces more than McCain and the other candidates. The Trump strategy of not apologizing works a lot better in American politics. The mainstream liberal media takes any apology by a conservative as proof that the conservative is a bad person because he had something he felt so guilty about that he had to apologize for it. Conservative politicians have refused to learn that lesson, but Trump understands it.