At first a lot of political observers were chalking up the potential presidential candidacy of Donald Trump to a conveniently timed publicity stunt.
As time goes on, though, it seems that even if Trump weren’t serious when he initially began talking about the GOP nomination, he is now.
Despite some fierce attempts on the part of establishment Republicans to diminish Trump’s appeal, he has become a bona fide presidential contender, as exhibited by his standing in several polls.
No matter where party leaders fall on the trepidation scale, all have had to come to grips with the Trump reality. The most recent Gallup poll has the real estate mogul and “Celebrity Apprentice” TV host in a first place tie with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both garnering 16 percent of likely Republican voters.
Former Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney follows with 13 percent. And establishment choice, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, gets a modest 6 percent show of support.
Although much of the media attention has been on the so-called “birther” issue, to which Trump has skillfully injected into the public discussion an air of legitimacy, voters are largely resonating to his appealing rhetorical spunk, which is perceived to be sorely lacking in the GOP leadership as well as in several of the other Republican alternatives.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, whose father, Billy Graham, served as spiritual adviser to several presidents, and who himself now follows in his preacher dad’s footsteps, has given Trump a boost, should he decide to run in the early primaries.
Graham told “This Week”’s Christiane Amanpour that Trump could be his choice to go up against President Obama in the 2012 presidential race, as Obama tries for a second term.
“Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke,” Graham said. “But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right.”
“So, he might be your candidate of choice?” Amanpour inquired.
“Sure, yes,” Graham answered.
Trump has also drawn the attention of some big-name celebrities, including actor Robert De Niro, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and former TV sitcom star Charlie Sheen.
In a “Nightly News with Brian Williams” story on the Tribeca Film Festival, the NBC anchor conducted an interview with De Niro during which the actor became animated over Trump's inquiries into the failure of Obama to produce his original birth certificate and other documents.
“I won't mention names, but certain people in the news the last couple weeks, just, what are they doing? It's crazy,” De Niro said. “They're making statements about people that they don't even back up. Go get the facts before you start saying things about people.”
Williams specifically asked whether or not DeNiro was talking about Trump. He nodded affirmatively, and then added, “It's like a big hustle. It's like being a car salesman. Don't go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That's awful to do. To just go out and speak and say these terrible things? Unless you just wanna get over and get the job. It's crazy.”
Seinfeld expressed his disapproval of Trump’s political rhetoric by pulling out of an appearance at a September benefit for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is an upcoming charity event organized by Trump's son, Eric.
At a tour stop in Washington, D.C., Sheen, too, in his inimitable way, weighed in on the Trump tussle. The actor talked about running for president himself, saying, “For starters, I was f***ing born here, how about that? And I got proof! Nothing Photoshopped about my birth certificate.”
According to The Washington Post, the birth certificate quip drew “boisterous applause” from the crowd. Evidently, though, Sheen later felt the need to distance himself from Trump. While in Sunrise, Fla., he advised against voting for Trump because cufflinks that the Donald had allegedly given him were worth less than what had supposedly been represented, and an appraiser had purportedly estimated the gift’s worth at $60 as opposed to $100,000.
Putting the birther issue and celebrity comments aside, it is interesting to note that the Iowa Republican Party's website now sports a large picture of Trump as part of a promotion for an upcoming speech that he is scheduled to give at a June fundraiser. Displayed in a conspicuously large font are the words, “An Evening with Donald Trump.”
The event is slated to take place following the “Celebrity Apprentice” finale. It will also occur after what will probably be the announcement that Trump will, in fact, run for president.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood: www.youtube.com/user/NMHollywood
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