Oct 10, 2015
In unmistakable ways over the last two weeks, whether he has intended to or not, Donald J. Trump has started to articulate a way out of the presidential race: a verbal parachute that makes clear he has contemplated the factors that would cause him to end his bid.
It is a prospect that many in the political establishment have privately considered as the actual voting grows closer.
In three television interviews, Mr. Trump, who has made his standing in the polls a central facet of his campaign message, spoke about what would prompt him to quit a race in which he is currently leading in the polls.
“I’m not a masochist,” Mr. Trump told Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press” on NBC News, last weekend. “If I were doing poorly, if I saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me because you no longer have any interest in Trump because ‘he has no chance,’ I’d go back to my business.”
It was similar to what he said in an interview with the “Today” show a few days earlier, and at another point to “60 Minutes” on CBS.
In interviews this week, Mr. Trump insisted he was in the race to win, and took aim at “troublemakers” in the news media who, he said, were misrepresenting his remarks. “I’m never getting out,” he insisted Friday on MSNBC.
Mr. Trump keeps noting that he still leads in every major Republican poll and is in a political position that others would envy, and he says he will spend the money to keep his candidacy alive. But he conceded in another interview: “To me, it’s all about winning. I want to win — whereas a politician doesn’t have to win because they’ll just keep running for office all their life.”
He said he had not contemplated a threshold for what would cause him to get out of the race. And he noted that his crowds were even larger than those of Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is drawing thousands to rallies in seeking the Democratic nomination.
While Mr. Trump still leads major national polls and surveys in early voting states, that lead has recently shrunk nationally, and the most recentNBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed his support eroding in New Hampshire, the first primary state. His recent comments have lent credence to the views of political observers who had long believed the perennially self-promoting real estate mogul would ultimately not allow himself to face the risk of losing.
“Even back in the summer, when he was somewhat defying gravity, somewhat defying conventional wisdom, it seemed to me there would be a moment when reality sets in,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political strategist who is based in California. “He would not leave himself to have his destiny settled by actual voters going to the polls or the caucuses.”
Mr. Stutzman was skeptical that Mr. Trump would be willing to endure the grind of a campaign needed to amass enough delegates to make him a factor at the Republican convention in July. That could mean a long slog accruing delegates in states where he may have to be content with third- or fourth-place performances — showings that could undercut the hyperconfident aura Mr. Trump cultivates.
Other Republican candidates are now signaling less fear of offending Mr. Trump than in the past. Senator Ted Cruz, who has treated his rival gingerly in the hope of getting Mr. Trump’s backers if he were to fade, openly mused Thursday about Mr. Trump’s ultimate political demise in an interview with a WABC Radio host, Rita Cosby.
“I don’t believe Donald is going to be the nominee,” Mr. Cruz said, “and I think, in time, the lion’s share of his supporters end up with us.”
Stuart Stevens, who was the chief strategist to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, also doubts that Mr. Trump will stay in over the long haul. “Trump’s the only person that pre-spun his exit — it’s rather remarkable,” Mr. Stevens said.
He pointed to one of the issues that has nagged the Trump candidacy from the outset — how much he is willing to spend on the race, particularly if his polling numbers start to sag. “I think we would all say this is a more serious endeavor if he was spending $2 million a week out of his own pocket, and I think it’s another sign that he’s not in this to win,” Mr. Stevens said.
According to the last campaign finance filing, Mr. Trump had so far spent $2 million of his own money on his self-financed bid for office. That is a fraction of what other major campaigns have spent, and most of it has been spent reimbursing himself for the cost of his plane and office space in Trump Tower. When financial disclosure reports are made public next week, it is unlikely he will be shown to have invested much more.
What has helped keep Mr. Trump’s candidacy strong has been the intense news media coverage of his bid — that and the universal name recognition he enjoyed heading into the race and a fractured nominating field, with 15 candidates. Most candidates would give anything for the free airtime Mr. Trump gets — and lower-polling hopefuls like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky have publicly complained about it.
Still, Mr. Trump has also been showing signs recently of becoming a better candidate on the trail — dropping local references into his speeches and lingering to shake hands. But such discipline did not extend to his second debate performance, which was almost universally described as lackluster.
Since then, Mr. Trump and his aides have spoken repeatedly about his next act. They have made a handful of hires in some of the March primary states, pointing to that as evidence that he will keep running (his state director in Texas, Corbin Casteel, was revealed to have called Mr. Trump “a joke” this year).
Mr. Trump’s advisers say that they had been prepared to spend $20 million on ads by now but that they did not have to because of all the free news media coverage — and they hint that amount would be merely a down payment on what he will spend in the future.
His allies insist he is adapting to the race, and they point out that, after criticism that Mr. Trump was treading lightly on policy matters, his recent speeches have been more focused on issues than simply rhetoric.
“Mr. Trump has evolved to the point where he understands that a grass-roots strategy must be supplemented with paid advertising to be able to combat the negative ads that will run against him — and he is prepared or preparing to spend what it takes to make sure his message gets to the voters,” said Corey Lewandowski, his campaign manager.
The campaign has hired a Florida public relations firm to make ads, Mr. Lewandowski said. But according to people tracking media spending, the Trump campaign has yet to reserve airtime anywhere.
A failure to invest in television commercials as poll numbers dwindle recalls another businessman who ran for president, Ross Perot. His campaign manager in 1992, Edward J. Rollins, resigned after the candidate drew intense negative news media attention and Mr. Perot refused his advice to air ads hitting back. Mr. Perot relented only in October, and instead of running conventional commercials, he ran 30-minute infomercials in which he made his case for being elected with charts.
While leading national Republicans may believe Mr. Trump will look for a face-saving way out at some point, that has not affected the views of people in some of the early voting states.
from the ronnie re:
but what is donald's hair strategy.......
notice in recent photos the top of is head is getting lower....he is losing what is left of the exceedingly thin ginger forest.
note the comb over in the picture above--now starting lower and with the increased use of a glue like spray the top just is not there like it used to be...all signs that the race is taking a toll on the donald and the hair-do.
As far as getting out of the race and a pre-planned exit strategy.....of course that has to be in place--why--because the fence scenario and rounding people up for deportation is not only unfeasabe but it is also disgusting and that is not what our country is about--that is not the history or the legacy of the United States of America.
His rhetoric is ugly and unwinnable when it comes to an election...the donald knows all of this--watch the hair--the tell-tale and deflating sign.
In Iowa, people “think he’s in for the duration,” said Doug Gross, a Republican strategist. But, he added, “I think he’s peaked.”