If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.

 

Trump? The Republican Primary Is Now Officially A Gong Show

A Commentary By Joe Conason

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Marketing genius is perhaps the most appropriate way to describe Donald J. Trump's newest incarnation as the announced host -- he can hardly be called a "moderator" -- of a post-Christmas Republican debate sponsored by Newsmax, the conservative magazine. Why did several candidates, including potential victim Jon Huntsman, instantly agree to join this spectacle?

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 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"?

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 grass roots 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, the ex-Richard Nixon operative, 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.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

See Other Political Commentary.

See Other Commentary by Joe Conason.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.  Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.