The Donald Trump "brand" is a complicated thing. With Trump on the verge of making a decision as to whether he runs for president or not, there is a question that remains: Is the old adage "any publicity is good publicity" still true? If it is, then Trump will be fine. If not, his past comments, actions and often outlandish persona will come back to haunt him.
No one who has never run for any public office has gotten more publicity than Trump. His brand stands for brash, loud, crass and, to many, less than authentic. In my new book coming out next month, You Are the Brand, I talk about the Trump brand. While I wrote this before Trump’s most recent threat to run for president, the key themes still hold true.
Trump has stiffed lots of people as a businessman, even though he brags that he is incredibly wealthy. His loans on his casinos in Atlantic City as well as on key pieces of real estate have defaulted, even though he argues that he still has the golden touch. Many people he owed money to, only got back pennies on the dollar.
Trump used to be pro-choice, but now apparently he can’t remember holding that position, and he is ardently pro-life. His most recent claim to fame is questioning President Barack Obama’s American citizenship, even though he produces no real evidence to prove this point.
Finally, while he talks about running as a Republican, and says he loves the Tea Party, he has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates. The explanation he gives is that he is a businessman who has to do business with everyone. That’s fine, except it doesn’t say much about his character, integrity or any consistent philosophy of governing other than "doing what you have to do to win."
Consider that the biggest political contribution (we are talking tens of thousands of dollars) he has made is to the disgraced and very entrenched incumbent Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. I’m sure the Tea Party folks loved that. Maybe that explains his most recent asinine comment in connection with race relations when he said; "I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks." The guy has a way with words, doesn’t he?
Simply put, Donald Trump says pretty much anything to draw attention to himself -- whether it’s true or not or whether he can back it up or not. His rhetoric rarely matches the reality of his track record, but still, he is near the top of the GOP presidential field in virtually every poll. That says as much about the list of potential Republican candidates as it does about Trump.
Recently, he said he would be a better candidate to run against Obama because he’s made more money than Mitt Romney. Does that make sense? By Trump’s standard, let’s just forget the election and have Bill Gates or Warren Buffett become the president tomorrow. What lunacy.
In the end, I’m betting he doesn’t run, just like every other time. But I might be wrong. My gut tells me this is all about Trump trying to pump up interest in ratings in his "Celebrity Apprentice" series and his other business ventures with his name plastered all over. Then again, he could be delusional enough to actually think that he could be a good president who would have to compromise, negotiate, work well with and engage others who he would clearly feel were his inferiors.
I hope he does run, though, because I’d love to see him have to defend many of the off-the-wall, illogical and counterproductive things he’s said over the years. Trump has never had to be accountable for what came out of his mouth, or for how he has conducted his business affairs. No one in the public arena has more confidence in himself than Donald Trump. Just ask him, he’ll tell you. He’s convinced he is the best person to serve as president, and he’s always gotten to say he would be better than anyone else, even though he’s never tested it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing it and I’d finally like to see his money where his mouth is, or his mouth where he says his money is, however you choose to look at it.