In the last 48 hours since he announced his candidacy for the 2016 race to the White House, Donald Trump has called his Republican running mates “sweating dogs”, “weak”, “phony” and “confused.” His candidacy, if for nothing else but attacking his fellow Republicans, should have the Democrats’ frontrunner Hillary Clinton ecstatic about its short and long term effects.
Let's be honest, Trump, a real estate mogul and a TV star who is neither politically correct nor allegedly factual, is not running for the sake of becoming the next U.S. President. His goal as it has been for the last three decades is to gain media visibility -sometimes through personal and political controversies-, and this time by being the provocateur in chief. Win or lose in the actual race, Trump will ultimately have the last laugh by raising his public profile at the expense of other Republican candidates whom he will waste no time in lambasting.
The Republican party is already scrambling to do damage control following Trump’s fiery press conference on Tuesday where terms such as “Mexican rapists” and “stupid leaders” could haunt the party in the general elections. But the conference is only a prelude of what is to come as “The Donald” show goes to swing states, attracts big crowds and national coverage.
Win or lose in the actual race, Trump will ultimately have the last laugh by raising his public profile at the expense of other Republican candidates whom he will waste no time in lambasting.Joyce Karam
More than anything, Trump could ruin the Republican’s early chance to collectively sell their improved brand at the first debate hosted by Fox News on August 6th. After years of trying to overcome the George W. Bush legacy and the far right anti-minority rhetoric, leading Republican candidates such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are adopting a more reconciliatory approach in targeting Latino voters, and tackling social issues. Trump, a billionaire who knows that the party establishment needs him more than the other way around, has the charm and the ability to drive the debate off topic and steer the GOP rhetoric farther to the right.
Six weeks into the debate, Trump qualifies on stage per Fox’s rules and as one of the “Top 10 candidates in an average of 5 national polls.” Republican groups, however, such as the “Club for Growth” are urging that he “should not be taken seriously” and to be excluded from all the debates.
Weakens Bush & Rubio
Trump’s entry to the race and his line of attack has been mostly focused on former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio. Both candidates run close to Hillary Clinton in key swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
While Trump might not sound Presidential in the traditional sense of the word, his ramblings and straight talk resonate with the average voter and have already earned him standing ovations in Iowa. Telling audiences that “this country does not need another Bush” and reminding of his stance against the Iraq war in 2003 is exactly the conversation that candidate Jeb Bush is trying to avoid on the national stage. Pointing to Rubio’s flip flop on immigration, and calling for erecting a wall on the southern border could force the Senator into taking a harder line on the issue and thus complicate his chances in the general elections.
So far, Trump has shied away from harsh attacks on Hillary Clinton. Reminding voters of her “scandalous” email controversy and that she overemphasizes the gender card and her non grey hair, is almost a compliment from someone who has built a brand for his "combover" hairstyle.
By driving the Republican debate to the right and rallying the base against Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, Trump is doing Clinton a favor and lending her automatic advantage in the general elections. It’s a win-win strategy for Trump who is attracting double the media attention he drew with the Obama birth certificate controversy, and will boost his TV ratings after the elections’ circus is over.
For Hillary Clinton, there is a lot to smile about with the Trump candidacy as he ticks off the Republican establishment and takes on her key rivals. The more inflammatory statements that Tump makes on immigrants and minorities the better it is for Democrats. They will use them to make the case that they are the party of “inclusiveness”, as the Republicans scramble and search for an end to their Trump-induced ulcers.
Joyce Karam is the Washington Correspondent for Al-Hayat Newspaper, an International Arabic Daily based in London. She has covered American politics extensively since 2004 with focus on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Prior to that, she worked as a Journalist in Lebanon, covering the Post-war situation. Joyce holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Twitter: @Joyce_Karam