Monday, August 24, 2015

Mike Lupica: Trump didn't get in this to lose-NY Daily News

8/23/15, "Lupica: Trump didn't get in this to lose," NY Daily News, 9:10pm

Alabama, 8/21/15

"It is a couple of hours before Donald Trump is on his way to a football stadium in Mobile, Ala., on a Friday night near the end of summer, before he’ll do a flyover in his own plane, like military jets do over big games in sports. Of course, this happens at a time when Trump games everybody else in a Republican field that would be as interesting as a W-2 form without him.

Trump is on the telephone talking about how the crowd at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is going to be over 30,000, which it was, even as some covered the final count as being below expectations. Right. Any other Republican candidate in the race would have to hire Maroon 5 as an opening act to draw like that on a Friday night in Alabama.

“First we were going to do it in a hotel ballroom, which I think would have held 1,100 people,” Trump is saying. 

“But then they call me right back and say, ‘Mr. Trump, the demand is too crazy, we can’t do it there.’ So then they wanted to move it to the Civic Center, which I think holds 10,000 or whatever. But then they call me back again and say, ‘It’s still too crazy, we have to move it to the football stadium.’ ”

Trump pauses and says, “Elton John says to draw that many people you usually need a guitar.”

After Trump is back from the event, here is what he says Saturday about his campaign, about the flyover that he currently executes over the entire American political scene, whether you like it or not:

“First they said I wasn’t going to run. Then they said I’d never file and essentially sign my life away. Then they said I’d never release my financials. I look back now and think I would have done that anyway, just to show people I’m doing even better than they thought. Now I see a new Reuters poll where I’m at 32%, and those same people don’t know what to say.”

People keep picking new sell-by dates for Trump’s campaign. They keep expecting that there will be a statement or an answer on the stage, as he keeps ad-libbing his way through this, that will sink him once and for all. I was talking to Trump’s old friend Don Imus the other day, with whom I first met Trump back in the 1980s, and Imus was imagining a moment during a debate when one of the people asking the questions asks him something like,

“Who’s the president of Zimbabwe, Mr. Trump?”

“You know what he’ll probably say?” Imus said. “‘Who gives a ----?’”

At which point more pundits’ hands would be wrung from coast to coast while another crowd went wild.

You know by now all the conventional wisdom on Trump: The polls don’t matter, the crowds don’t matter, he is making a mockery of the political process by unapologetically being himself. You hear people say what a scary thought it is that he could be President. What, the idea of President Ted Cruz or President Mike Huckabee is supposed to be more serious than the theory of discourse representation?

This is a country where the star of “Terminator” movies was once elected governor of California, a professional wrestler got elected governor of Minnesota and a former star of “Saturday Night Live” is now a U.S. senator from Minnesota. Ronald Reagan, now considered the patron saint of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in America, starred in movies like “Bedtime for Bonzo” in the 1950s, when his co-star was a trained chimp.

For now Donald Trump is both the star and the news of this campaign, bigger than the mess Hillary Clinton is making of emails, bigger than an old lefty like Bernie Sanders trying to be George McGovern in 1972. Trump was asked Saturday, after Mobile, if he has simply tapped into the anger of the country about its politicians and its government from his side of this the way Sanders has from his side.

It may be about anger,” Trump said. “We may be saying the same thing here. But I frankly think it’s more about political incompetency. And, I’m sorry, but Jeb is a part of that. Nice enough guy. But what a stiff.”

You don’t have to agree with him about anchor babies or ISIS. You can compare Friday night’s scene in Mobile to George Wallace, as Politico did, or to Billy Graham, as Trump himself did. You can say the whole thing is dumb and can’t last. Underestimating this guy’s appeal is what’s dumb right now, and may be for a while.

When I asked Trump if he is surprised by what is happening, he said, “I’m surprised by the speed that it’s happened. And I’m surprised by the intensity. But I didn’t get in this to lose.”

And what about the notion that he will punch himself out eventually, or flame out?

“I don’t flame out,” he said."

Image caption: "Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama." getty

via commenter at The Last Refuge



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