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June 17, 2015

Donald Trump's Next Reality Show: 2016

Donald Trump has a new reality show: the 2016 presidential election.

Boastful, ranting, unfiltered and breaking every single rule of politics, The Donald announced his bid for the presidency on Tuesday with the indignation of someone who is mad and not going to take it anymore.

The bombastic billionaire, who hosts the NBC reality show "The Apprentice," provided his audience with the self-parody that many have come to expect along with flashes of substance that could have an unexpected impact on the race. He vowed to take on China and ISIS but also said he would build a great wall to stop Mexico from dumping "rapists" on U.S. soil, questioned the intellect of Jeb Bush, branded U.S. leaders as "stupid" and lamented that "the American dream is dead."

"We need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again," Trump said. "I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created."

Trump's rationale for a White House race is that, at least in his own mind, he is wealthier and more successful than anyone else.

"I'm really rich -- that's the kind of mindset, that's the kind of thinking you need for this country," he said. "Somebody said, 'Oh, that's crass.' It's not crass.'"

Immediately after Trump's performance, S.E. Cupp, a CNN political analyst, could only say "there is no way to describe what happened."

Most presidential candidates seek to project a down-home image on campaign launch day, striving for humility and a connection with everyday Americans, often choosing to conceal their personal wealth at a time when the middle class is struggling.

Not Trump.

At the foot of the gleaming Trump Tower in New York, the real estate mogul seemed intent on showing everyone just how rich he is, boasting about his sumptuous golf courses, huge building projects and an accounting sheet that lists his assets at over $9 billion.

Troublesome questions

Trump is handing the GOP a set of troublesome questions.

Perhaps most significantly, GOP bosses must work out how to stop the party race -- already inundated with 12 candidates and with more to come -- from descending into a farcical personal showcase for The Donald.

Party leaders have been desperate to head off the kind of polarizing circus that overtook the GOP debates in 2012. But Trump could find himself with a spot in the top 10 in national polls, a ranking that could guarantee him a place in Republican debates starting later this summer.

Republican operatives had little to say about Trump's entry to the race on Tuesday.

"We have a historic crop of candidates seeking the Republican nomination," Spicer told CNN, adding that Trump's blast against Mexicans was not "helpful" to the GOP cause.

The Club for Growth, an influential free market lobby group, was more dismissive of Trump's claims.

"Donald Trump is a great entertainer and developer but his idea of what to do as president won't grow the economy," said David McIntosh, the group's president.

It would be easy to dismiss Trump as a joke candidate, especially with his lack of a record running for office or a recognizable political campaign structure.

But J. Ann Selzer, who conducts the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Iowa Poll and is president of Selzer & Company, noted that Trump's name, fame and direct style will give him advantages, particularly in a crowded GOP field.

Though he is in the single digits in Iowa, Selzer noted that he could get traction and gain the few points needed to secure a position among the top candidates who will get in the debates.

At the same time, she noted that Trump, who went to Iowa after his announcement, has "very high negatives... In fact his negatives outnumber by positive by more than two to one."

'People know him'

"One of the things he has going for him — and against him — is people know him," Selzer said. In focus groups, some Iowans have said they want a candidate like Trump who have run a big organization, she said.

At the same time, "You have people who say I despise him, who say 'he just wants attention'... They have a hard time taking him seriously."

She added: "We'll see how plays his hand."

Trump showed how he may be able to tap into the hunger among many voters for a blunt-talking candidate who answers questions without hesitation. While other GOP candidates were careful not to go too far in criticizing former Florida Gov. Bush as he flubbed his answer on whether he would have invaded Iraq, Trump noted that Bush stumbled repeatedly over his answer — and questioned his readiness to be president for that reason alone.

The media -- and the rest of the political world -- is going to have to work out how to treat him, presumably taking him at his word as a genuine candidate with as much right to be heard as anyone else.

As Trump pointed out, he doesn't need to worry about cash, with plenty of his own money to throw into a campaign and potentially cause trouble for his fellow Republican hopefuls late into the primary process.

"It's nice. I don't need anybody's money. I'm using my own money," Trump said.

But no matter how much money Trump has to spend on his presidential campaign, he faces enormous hurdles, particularly in demonstrating to voters how he would navigate the gauntlet of the early Republican primary states and emerge strong enough to take on Hillary Clinton, the Democrat's likely nominee.

Though Trump's speech Tuesday was rambling and bombastic, it also showed the power of his appeal to blue collar voters who are concerned about the declining standing of the U.S. around the world and the growing power of China's economy.

He touted his business experience to argue that he could streamline government. He noted at one point that he has launched many websites and he can build them for $3 — comparing those nimble efforts to the expensive, faltering technology of the federal exchange that initially hobbled the implementation of President Obama's healthcare law.

And as much as anything's Trump's performance seemed born of a desire to buck up America after a rough time that has turned many people against more conventional politicians.

"We don't have victories anymore," Trump complained. "We used to have victories, but we don't have them."

Text by CNN
 

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