About a month ago, in the midst of birth certificate fever, a close friend of mine became convinced that Donald Trump was going to be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. She was so convinced, in fact, that she offered me a bet: If Trump won the nomination, I had to take her and her daughter to Paris. If he didn't, I got breakfast in bed.
Well, I won. Trump announced Monday that he would not seek the nomination. And I can't say that I'm surprised. [Vote now: Would Trump have won the 2012 GOP nomination?]
“I've decided that we are going to continue onward with Celebrity Apprentice, Trump told advertisers at an NBC lineup presentation,” Politico reported. “We're going to continue making lots and lots of money for charity,” he said, to applause. “I will not be running for president, as much as I'd like to.”
From the beginning, the whole business had all the earmarks of a publicity stunt. His nascent presidential campaign has been good for the ratings of his reality program, which, not coincidentally, is wrapping up its current season just about now.
Running for president is not for the faint of heart. It requires an awful lot of disclosure, laying open one's personal life and business affairs to the scrutiny of an unforgiving press corps. And it requires spending an awful lot of time talking with people who know almost nothing about anything but who have opinions about everything. Trump, from all indications, is not really cut out for any of that. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]
Moreover, it's very hard to jump into the arena from the outside. Trump has never held elective office, never even faced the voters at any level. It requires an entirely different skill set than the one he possesses, even though his experiences with huge debt loads and bankruptcy would be an asset in dealing with the nation's current fiscal mess.
As H. Ross Perot proved during his two independent presidential bids, it's easy to get attention, but it's hard to get traction. Despite spending millions of his own money, Perot failed to win a single vote in the Electoral College or a single state. He did, in his first run, carry a single county—I think it was in Nebraska—but that's a long way from winning the White House. A Trump candidacy on the GOP line would have performed better, but it still would have been a long shot.
By the way, I'll be having Eggs Benedict.