Bozell: Run Or Not, Trump Wins

Tuesday, 26 Apr 2011 05:18 PM

By Andra Varin

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Not too long ago, it seemed that Sarah Palin was everywhere. The media was full of stories about her. She even showed up on the hit reality TV show “Dancing With the Stars” to watch daughter Bristol compete. But now, she’s been Trumped. Along with everybody else.

Donald Trump, star of his own reality TV show, has managed to steal the media spotlight away from not only Palin but every other potential Republican presidential candidate out there.

He has been the focus of 40 percent of all coverage of the GOP primary race in newspapers, blogs, TV and radio stations over the past month, according to Nate Silver, who analyzed coverage data for a New York Times blog.

And Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the real estate mogul might just be the candidate for him.

"When I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, 'Well, this has got to be a joke,'" Graham told Christiana Amanpour. "But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right.”

So how long can Trumpmania last?

“He’ll keep it up as long as the media don’t get bored with him,” said Brent Bozell, chairman of the new nonprofit ForAmerica. “He’s a master at public relations and he knows how to control the narrative.”

But Bozell points out that it’s still very early in the game. “He has the benefit of low expectations,” he said, noting that many voters aren’t thinking seriously yet about the 2012 presidential race.

But what Trump is doing is taking away attention from other potential contenders who can’t seem to get noticed. The one suffering the most right now, Bozell says, is Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor promotes himself as a political outsider who has the business know-how to fix the country. Right now, that’s the role Trump has commandeered.

But if Trump does make a mistake, then Romney will be able to take over the mantle of the “serious businessman” candidate, Bozell said.

“If at the end of the day, Trump runs and stumbles and falls, then it will be Romney who picks up the pieces,” said Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center.

Although Trump seems to be getting all the attention that used to be Palin’s, Bozell believes that may work to the former Alaska governor’s advantage.

“He is the object of the media’s attention right now, which distracts them from her,” he said. “If at the end of the day Trump is exposed as being a gadfly, then she comes into the picture as a more serious candidate.”

Bozell said that if he were advising Palin, he would tell the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee to sit tight and focus on organizing her campaign. She can always worry about the spotlight later.

“I think Sarah Palin can get media attention any time she wants to,” he added.

Right now, Trump is obviously enjoying all the publicity he’s getting. But the attention could turn ugly, Bozell says, if the media discovers any kind of skeleton in his closet. And reporters will start digging deep if Trump does well in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary.

Trump’s two bankruptcies and his marital record are already public knowledge. If indeed there is anything else that might turn off voters, the media mogul should make sure it comes out now, Bozell said. By election time, it would be very old news.

Trump’s media reign could end very quickly if another candidate with star power emerges and catches the media’s fancy.

“They’ll get tired of him when they’ve run out of things to talk about and or if another candidate emerges to take the excitement away,” said Bozell, recalling how Hillary Clinton was eclipsed by the emergence of Barack Obama.

And if Trump decides not to run after all, will there be media backlash?

“If Trump decides not to run at the end of the day, the media will have to acknowledge that he played them like a fiddle,” Bozell said.

“He’s all about selling the Trump brand of excellence. That’s his existence.”

Whatever he decides to do in the end, he’s being talked about now, and that’s what really counts, Bozell said.

“He’s going to win every way you look at this.”

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