In response to a reader who asked the question: “Why would the Clinton’s want Trump in the Republican presidential primary race?” The supposition the Clinton’s supported his run is based on a call reported last Spring, where the Clinton’s were allegedly encouraging Trump’s entry into the race. While we do not know the content of the call, we can surmise some of the reasons it might have happened that way.
#1 Hillary thought Trump would beat up the Republican candidates and point out their flaws. Mr. Trump has a reputation for responding harshly to people who have attacked him. She is expecting the proverbial bull in a china shop doing rampant damage.
Backfire mode: Trump has shown surprising restraint in trading shots with his competition, only going after those who have drawn first blood and in a relatively measured way. He is good at it, but he hasn’t chosen to do much damage to the frontrunner candidates (although Rand Paul is hurting a bit…).
In the meantime, Trump’s influence has brought the Republican primaries into the mainstream with over 24 million viewers for the first debate, the best ever. This means EVERY candidate is getting more exposure, and the eventual winner will have as much name recognition as Hillary.
If this keeps up, the Republican victor will have achieved literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exposure they would not have gotten without Trump’s presence. The Clinton’s should have known.
#2 Hillary thought Trump would eventually say something that would reduce his poll numbers and force him out of the race. Elections are full of temporary front-runners, a minor mis-step or revelation (e.g. Herman Cain) and they lose support.
Backfire mode – The Clinton’s might not realize most front-runners who make a misstep don’t quit because of shame or embarrassment. They quit because their funding dries up.
Trump doesn’t have that problem. He can stay in the race for as long as he wants, spending his own money, knowing the voters do not remember these kinds of incidents for long. Financially, he can weather through any heat any potential missteps might bring.
Reporters like to ask embarrassing questions of past events. Trump’s strategy of doubling down (e.g. with his comments about Mexico) makes it uninteresting for reporters to bring up controversial statements once they have run their course. So Trump is immune from this problem.
#3 Hillary thought Trump would not last long. After all he has floated the idea of running for President several times, in 2012 he abruptly annnounced he would not run.
Backfire mode – Trump is leading in the polls, he is committed, he has a good team. When Trump is winning why would he stop? Even if he eventually drops out, he has already brought more attention to the other candidates than they would have gotten otherwise. This is a huge problem for Hillary.
#4 Hillary thought Trump might initiate a run as an independent. If he does, he would certainly take votes away from the Republican candidate.
Backfire mode – While Trump has not yet ruled out running as an independent, he may be close to making that commitment. When hearsay surfaced that members of the Republican establishment were plotting to exclude Trump from nationally televised debates, he had a reason to be reserved about denying an independent run. From the rumors I read, I don’t blame him.
But it appears the Republican establishment is behaving itself, and Trump has stated in recent interviews that such a commitment may soon be forthcoming. With this commitment, if Trump does not become the nominee, he could very easily become a supporter of the victor (Vice President Trump?), reducing Hillary’s chances considerably.
#5 Since Trump has contributed to the Clintons’ campaigns, Hillary considers him a friend and ally, who will be reserved in his attacks on her.
Backfire mode – Trump knows when he is swimming with sharks, and indeed has been in much deeper waters than Hillary ever has. And while he hasn’t attacked Hillary in more than a perfunctory manner as yet, we believe Trump is more than capable of taking the gloves off. A drastic under-estimation in our opinion.
So in short, whether Trump gets the nomination or not, his entry is a strategic loss for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. We mentioned when Trump announce his candidacy last spring he would make things interesting. And he has.