Publication / DecodeDC/ Scripps
September 16, 2015

Trump’s policy is promoting his personality

By Miranda Green

Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff style that proves him unbeholden to talking points or policy specifics is part of the secret behind his success and it isn’t likely to change during tonight’s debate.

The former Apprentice star’s persona seems to only be getting more outlandish as the presidential candidate tries to grow his lead in the GOP primary and pull off a performance at the GOP debate Wednesday night that will continue to paint him as the party’s biggest outlier. A move Trump hopes will in turn make him the Republican candidate.

Some of his more obvious tactics include using the press to his advantage—voicing sure to be picked-up remarks that keep his name, and mug, plastered on network TV stations for days. It doesn’t hurt that the maneuver has been proven to work—studies and Nielsen ratings have shown that Trump is disproportionately discussed in the news compared to the other GOP candidates. According to analyst Andrew Tyndall, network evening newscasts in the month of June gave 37 percent of its 2016 campaign coverage just to Trump.

Trump’s comments that have successfully made the news rounds recently include his “Look at that face” remarks—against fellow GOP candidate and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina that surfaced last week. On Monday it was something he said about immigration that made headlines yet again, calling the U.S. a “dumping ground for the rest of the world.’

And people still don’t forget the comments and respective tweets Trump dolled out post the last GOP debate that criticized Fox Anchor Megyn Kelly for being out to get him. Especially memorable was when he told CNN, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

But the point of the hype he’s building isn’t to take the attention off of his lack of policy specifics— of which immigration seems to be his main focus (though we still have no idea how he’s really going to finance the “Trump Wall.”) Instead, his comments are his policy points. Trump is selling himself, not his specifics.

“Everybody in the establishment misunderstands the game he’s playing,”

former Speaker of the House and one time GOP candidate Newt Gingrich told the New York Times about Trump. “His opponents want to talk about policies. He’s saying if you don’t have a leader capable of cutting through the baloney, all this policy stuff is an excuse for inaction.”

Trump’s outlandish, macho, no-apologies, hold-nothing back tactic may be the opposite of the primary process that Washingtonians are accustomed to, but it is, at least right now, what the American conservative base wants more of.

Simply put, whatever it is that Trump’s doing is working. So why change now?

In national polls Trump is the top ranking GOP candidate, currently with 27 percent of the GOP primary vote. The second closest candidate, brain surgeon Ben Carson, has 23 percent.

Trump is also leading in almost every other category of voters.

Despite his comments about women, deriding them as “fat pigs”. Despite his comments about religion—he loves the bible but can’t remember his favorite verse. Oh, and that time he mention that he’s never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. And despite his anti-immigrant, and some would say racist, views. In poll after poll of conservatives, Trump is leading among women, evangelical Christians, and college educated voters. He’s also got the most frequent voters as well as those with little history of voting on lock.

The question is no longer, “Is Trump a serious candidate?” but, “Can he be a realistic nominee?”

Tonight’s debate, and time, will tell.