The Republican candidates are being pushed aside by the 69-year-old billionaire’s presidential campaign.
In the spring of 2011, the real estate magnate did a quick campaign lap before giving up on his participation in the Republican primaries. He wasn’t yet ready to leave the private sector, he explained at the time, and preferred to finish off “The Apprentice,” his reality-TV show. This time, at the age of 69, the billionaire feels 10 feet tall. For a man who has built an empire around his name and image, there is nothing more effective than the publicity garnered in a presidential campaign. Even if he has had to part with a few million dollars, the opinion polls make it all worth it.
The latest ABC-Washington Post poll gives him 24 percent of the votes of Republicans, who have 16 candidates to choose from. To whom does this thundering businessman with an unlikely hairstyle appeal? Mainly people with no college degree, and not necessarily the most conservative voters, but instead younger ones (under 50 years of age).
Noise for Nothing?
He appeals to people to whom the anti-immigrant discourse – his main message – says something. Does he represent a danger to the Republican establishment? More like a nuisance. He steals the attention that the more serious candidates, like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, would have the right to expect air time for. His ranking in the polls will even give him a place at the first debate in the Republican primaries, scheduled for Aug. 6. Even his gaffs (Mexican immigrants being “rapists” and his attack on John McCain, a Vietnam veteran) don’t seem to be deterring his admirers.
All the same, these gaffs have lost him some Latin American sponsors for the Miss Universe competition, which he co-owns. “Republicans are scared that he will damage the image of the party among public opinion. His support will gradually diminish as he is subjected to meticulous scrutiny from the press and the party,”* believes Larry Jacobs, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. With a year and a half to go until the elections, there is every chance that a lot of noise is being made over nothing.
*Editor’s Note: Accurately translated, this quote could not be verified.