Trump? Republican Primary Now a Gong Show
Entrepreneur and reality show celebrity to host GOP debate
The problem immediately faced by any candidate who might not wish to risk being "fired" by the Donald onstage as millions watch is how to politely decline without being "fired" in a super-heated blast of publicity right now. As President Barack Obama discovered earlier this year, the press eagerly latches onto Trump at every opportunity, even when he sounds utterly deranged.
With the possible exception of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann—who seems to have established an actual friendship with Trump—these unfortunate Republicans cannot relish the prospect of an encounter with America's towering ego. Whatever Trump's intentions, how will he be able to resist upstaging, one-upping, contradicting and perhaps even humiliating each of them in turn? And which of them will want to talk back smack to a publicity machine with his own "Fox and Friends" weekly time slot called "Mondays With Trump"?
Almost Feel Bad for GOP
It is hard not to feel a bit sad for the Republicans today, although they have certainly brought this on themselves. Ed Rollins, the legendary Ronald Reagan aide who worked for the Bachmann campaign until earlier this year, expressed what many party stalwarts must be feeling: "Who made Trump the kingmaker? This campaign has been enough of a circus without making him the ringmaster."
The only sure winners in this gong show are Trump himself and his sponsors at Newsmax, who can count on high ratings and massive media attention. Their constituencies will not be displeased no matter how Trump behaves. As Newsmax chief executive Christopher Ruddy told The New York Times, "Our readers and the grassroots really love Trump."
But Ruddy's remark could mean reopening a can of worms that in a saner world would remain tightly closed. Roger Stone, ex- operative for Richard Nixon, former Trump consultant and full-time political schemer, warned that while the casino magnate's role will be "interesting," there could be dire consequences for the other participants. "Trump may appear more appealing a candidate to those watching than those he is moderating," he said.
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