Here in Washington, the local radio and TV stations are running “Countdown to the Shutdown” clocks today, with updates on the negotiations on the government shutdown, and how many minutes are left until tonight’s midnight deadline. You can’t get away from the hysterical saturation coverage aimed at all the federal workers.
So in an effort to get everyone’s minds off of all the political infighting, I thought I’d write about something much more entertaining: The Donald.
Because he’s surging in the polls—this week’s NBC-Wall Street Journal poll puts Donald Trump second to Mitt Romney among the 2012 GOP field according to Republican primary voters, and has him leading among Tea Party voters—I thought I’d give him some unsolicited advice if he wants to be taken seriously by more voters. Here are five things I think Trump should do to kick things up a notch:
- Accept Oprah’s offer—According to the New York Post, Oprah Winfrey is offering Trump a makeover during the finale of her show in May. According to the Post, “Sources told us the production team promised to let the real estate mogul promote Celebrity Apprentice and talk about his potential presidential bid. Oprah producers also vowed to treat Trump's makeover with ‘integrity’ and ‘not let it become a joke or silly.’” If you google the words “Donald Trump’s hair” you’ll see among the 741,000 images that pop up--why I think he should accept her offer. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP 2012 candidates.]
- More interviews, shorter answers—For the most part, Trump does well in interviews: He makes good eye contact, is articulate and animated, and most importantly, he’s willing to say what the rest of us are thinking but don’t have the guts to say. That’s part of what makes him so entertaining. He’s not plastic. But he’s also got a tendency to filibuster and push a point longer than is necessary. He needs to shorten some of his answers. Like the saying goes, you don’t have to be eternal to be immortal.
- Heed Marco Rubio’s advice—Speaking of pushing a point longer than necessary, Trump should listen to Florida Sen. March Rubio’s advice this week that he stop questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States. As Rubio said to the Daily Caller today: “I would suggest—if he asked for my opinion—not to focus so much on that issue. There are more important things facing our country.” People are much more concerned with the economy, creating jobs, and reining in spending. Time to get back to what’s important. [Vote now: Is Trump's birtherism just a stunt?]
- Get facts double-checked—NBC’s been going after Trump on fact-checking issues in some of his remarks, and he needs to be more careful. I don’t know if Trump’s got a full-time fact-checker on his staff, but if not, he needs to get one now. Hiring a fact-checker is money better spent than on, say, the “detectives” he hired to look into the birth certificate issue. As Trump rises in the polls, the level of scrutiny he faces from the media will increase—and there are already plenty of reporters looking to play “gotcha” with everything that comes out of his mouth. Make sure everything’s airtight.
- Craft a good policy speech—The last time Donald Trump gave a widely-covered speech was back in February at CPAC, the same day as Jimmy “The Debt is Too Damn High” McMillan announced he was running in 2012. It’s time for Trump to give a policy speech at a think tank, a local chamber of commerce, or perhaps at a college (the Harvard Institute of Politics comes to mind) and show whether he’s got real ideas for moving the country forward. It doesn’t have to be boring—just well-reasoned and relevant on topics people care about, like the economy, the budget, China, and the Middle East. If Trump wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he needs to move beyond Celebrity Apprentice and show that there’s some there, there.
- Vote now: Who would you blame for a government shutdown?
- Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP 2012 candidates.
- Read more about the 2012 presidential race.