A Los Angeles Times reporter spoke with some Republican strategists who have seen many presidential campaigns come and go, and asked them how long the improbable popularity of Donald Trump can last. He asked them “he can’t actually win, right?”
Their answers shocked this reporter:
“It’s not inconceivable,” Vin Weber, a former congressman (and Jeb Bush supporter) told me. “It doesn’t look as if he’s going to implode any time soon…. It’s hard for me to say this, but he actually seems to be getting better as a candidate.”
“Trump has put himself on the short list of five or six names who could win the nomination,” said another GOP operative who insisted on anonymity because he’s working for one of those other candidates. “It’s not impossible that he could win.”
Trump could win, they suggested, if he rolls out more policy proposals to demonstrate that he has actually thought about what he’d do as president (he’s already promised one on tax reform), and if he survives increased scrutiny from the media as well as attacks from other candidates (Bush has already started in).
“The Southern primaries [in February and March] are a huge opportunity for him. If he wins enough of those, the rest of the field will collapse because their money will dry up. At that point, it becomes Trump versus someone else, an anti-Trump — probably Rubio, Walker, Kasich or Bush. And then it’s a real race.”
The reporter then asked himself “What has Trump done right?”
- He began by grabbing voters’ attention with a naked appeal to anti-immigrant anger.
- But he’s broadened his pitch with broadsides against a “corrupt” political system, Wall Street financiers and corporations that send U.S. jobs overseas.
- There are even signs that he might ease up on the insults — glimpses of a new, more statesmanlike Donald. “I have great respect for a lot of the other people on the stage,” he said Friday.