Trump faces obstacles if running


News about Osama bin Laden’s death has consumed national news stations since Sunday evening, but eventually the buzz will pass and the United States will begin to look toward the future, including the 2012 presidential election.

Many politicians seeking election have already started to plan, and while the Democratic party will not need to groom a candidate for the campaign, the Republican party is currently staring at a long list of possibilities.

ABC News has created a list of 24 potential candidates that could represent the Republican party in the 2012 election. This list ranges from 2008 election veterans like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to up-and-comers like current Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. Of course, the list would not be complete without one television celebrity and business tycoon to top it off.

Donald Trump, CEO of the Trump Organization, was included on the ABC list of prospective candidates, and although he has not officially claimed he intends to campaign for the Oval Office, discussion and speculation have been rampant.

Many Americans know Trump as being a scandalous business man that hosts “Celebrity Apprentice” and whose last words are always, “You’re fired.”

Trump has an extensive and well-documented background, but will his celebrity status help or harm his chances at the presidency?

“Being a celebrity is not necessarily a disadvantage,” said Joseph Aistrup, professor of political science and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Many have run for office and won. Indeed, Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood celebrity before he ran and won the California governorship, but not even Reagan attempted to run for president going directly from the stage to the presidency.”

Aistrup, who has an emphasis in American government, believes Reagan’s time as governor was pivotal to his being elected president. Trump does not have similar experience in politics, which may be his greatest weakness if he decides to throw his hat into the campaign ring.

“In addition, Reagan ran two times for the GOP presidential nomination before winning it in 1980,” Aistrup said. “If Trump would build up his political bona fides by first running for a lower level office, he would increase his chances later on.”

From a financial stand point, Trump’s own bank account would not be enough to give him any major advantage in an election, Aistrup said. To endure a yearlong campaign, Trump would need to depend less on his own money to support his candidacy and more on financial aid from supporters.

“Being a million or billionaire is not an advantage,” Aistrup said. “Running for president requires the broad support of literally thousands of dedicated supporters who devote their time and money to elect their candidate. Millionaires often think they can substitute their personal fortunes for this broad base of support. This is a bad calculation about 95 percent of the time. Research shows that money is a poor substitute for dedicated supporters.”

Trump would not be the first millionaire who has run for a presidential candidacy position.

“Ross Perot was the one millionaire who made a go of it, but he had built up a broad basis of support and had developed his own political party, the Reform Party, organized around the principle of opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” Aistrup said. “Trump is trying to build his presidential bid by piggybacking on the Tea Party and Birther movements, but has been outmaneuvered by President Obama, who released the long form of his birth certificate, effectively destroying the foundation of the birthers’ main complaint.”

To make his campaign effective, Trump would have to focus on finding issues that would attract supporters.

“Trump would have to find a set of reinforcing conservative issues to draw supporters to his candidacy and do it in a more effective manner than other GOP hopefuls,” Aistrup said. “If he tries to substitute his money for support, he will most likely lose in the end.”

Republican candidates, not just Trump, will have to focus more on issues that affect America as opposed to the actual “race” to the White House, he said.

“The problem for the GOP is that as Trump’s candidacy loses steam, he will most likely unleash a barrage of negative ads that will hurt the eventual nominee,” Aistrup said. “This is what happened in 1996 when millionaire Steve Forbes ran against Bob Dole. Arguably, the strongest attack ads against Dole were launched by Forbes, so much so that by the time Dole sewed up the nomination, President Clinton was leading in the polls. I can’t say that the contentious GOP primary was the reason that Dole lost, but it did not help him.”