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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Trump: the Billionaire, the Mogul, the Candidate

April 7, 2011 

It’s not clear if real estate developer Donald Trump could win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He is anything but a traditional candidate, and no one knows for sure if he will actually make the run.

His candidacy is getting mixed reviews from network pundits and political consultants but that may be because these individuals often look at the next race through the prism of the last one.

There is no past barometer from which to easily judge a Trump candidacy. The inside-the-beltway-crowd has a default position which says the billionaire is too far outside the box to be taken seriously to win the White House.

However, history tells us that voters often take risks and make bold choices when electing a President.

The 1960s brought us the first Catholic President, something many people at the time thought would never happen. During the 70s, a little known Governor from Georgia became the first southerner elected President since Reconstruction.

In 1980, voters elected the first actor, and of course, in 2008, the country elected Barrack Obama, the first African-American President.

These were not conventional choices – far from it – and there’s no reason to believe that 2012 will be much different. This gives credence to the unorthodox candidacy of billionaire Trump.

Voters do not see the real estate mogul as a politician, instead they see him as a no nonsense businessman who has real “street smarts”.  For many, he’s what the country needs right now. Trump is confident, full of bravado, and seems to be up to speed on the issues.

Yet the question Republicans are asking is: can he win; can he go the distance and defeat President Obama, without embarrassing himself and the Republican Party in the process. It's the last “unknown” that keeps Trump at arm’s-length with establishment Republicans and traditional television pundits.

Winning the Republican nomination might be the real estate tycoon’s biggest hurdle as the primary process is full of election law details and various state rules that must be followed in order to win the nomination. Celebrity only goes so far in a presidential nominating process.

Trump continues to be visible on network television but voters expect to see their presidential candidates on the stump, mixing with voters in all the primary states,and asking voters directly for their support.

This is not to say that he is incapable of waging such a campaign, quite the contrary. He is the kind of guy who can be quite determined once he makes up his mind on a course of action.

Money won’t be a problem but not necessarily for the reasons many may think. While he can afford to wage a first-rate campaign with his own funds, there are tens of thousands of middle-class voters who identify with Trump, and they will be great prospects for him to raise millions in small donations.

The billionaire may also fare well in a run-off against President Obama should he receive the Republican nomination. He has the ability to tap into a unique coalition of support in a general election scenario, appealing to Republicans, Reagan Democrats, and African-American voters.

Support from this latter group will surprise many. For a variety of reasons, Reagan Democrats and black voters are not alienated by the billionaire, and could be key voting blocs in a Trump campaign.

African Americans admire his can-do spirit, and do not see him as a person who would favor the rich, despite the fact; he is one of the richest individuals in the world. These qualities may also attract Reagan Democrats who are looking for someone to get the country growing economically.

Many of these same voters also like the way he talks tough on foreign policy and immigration issues.

The country has a history of making bold decisions when it comes to electing a President, and should things fall his way, the election of Donald Trump would be the boldest ever.