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Donald Trump Is Beginning His Exit Strategy

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/04/2016 Richard Zombeck

Donald Trump does not want to be president. In fact, he never wanted to be president. His entire campaign has been a long con and a ruse to strengthen his brand and feed his ego.
Last week, Stephanie Cegielski, a strategist for the Make America Great Again super PAC published an open letter to Trump supporters on the website xoJane in which she details the original intent of Trump's presidential bid:

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it. The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy.

Cegielski then goes on to describe the events and circumstances that unfolded, surprising everyone:
But something surprising and absolutely unexpected happened. Every other candidate misestimated the anger and outrage of the "silent majority" of Americans who are not a part of the liberal elite. So with each statement came a jump in the polls. Just when I thought we were finished, The Donald gained more popularity.

Somewhere in the middle of the letter she gets to the brass tacks:
You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.
He doesn't want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He's achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

So let's assume that all of that is true. Donald Trump can't just quit. After all, he's Donald Trump. The next logical step would be to take a fall -- possibly losing the nomination by a small margin. But again, if you're Donald Trump you don't lose. If you're Donald Trump and want to get out while still maintaining your brand and your dignity, you play the long game and come out looking like a victim. In a sense, you spin it so that your supporters think you're so accurate in your assessment of the world that it frightens the establishment into shutting you down - you're that powerful.
Over the course of the last week, Trump has made headlines and drawn attention by doing and saying things that are completely contrary to what anyone would consider sane.
Trump's conversation with Chris Matthews on MSNBC about abortion was just the beginning. During the interview he told Matthews that women who seek abortion should be punished -- a stance even the hardliners in the GOP think is preposterous. Not to mention, women are the largest demographic in this country. There is no path to nomination without their support. Why would anyone alienate them?
Speaking of women, Trump completely fumbled the issue of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was criminally charged for an altercation with a reporter. Rather than remain impartial or simply fire the staffer, Trump instead impugned the character of the reporter who was manhandled by Lewandowski.
Later that week while speaking at an event in Wisconsin, Trump told the audience that the Geneva Conventions hinder our efforts. The Geneva Conventions are made up of four treaties, most of which cover the humane treatment of enemy combatants and civilians.
"The problem," Trump said, "is we have the Geneva Conventions, all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight. We can't waterboard, but they can chop off heads. I think we've got to make some changes." Trump also suggested that South Korea and Japan be allowed access to nuclear weapons. A suggestion that deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said would be "catastrophic."
"The entire premise of American foreign policy as it relates to nuclear weapons for the past 70 years has been focused on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states," Rhodes said.
Trump also said he would not be opposed to using nuclear weapons in the Middle East or in Europe, during the above-mentioned interview with Chris Matthews.
Adding whipped cream to this well-crafted sundae of incompetence and ignorance, Trump called in to a conservative Wisconsin radio show and blasted Gov. Scott Walker.
But you had a $2.2 billion budget deficit and the schools were going begging and everything was going begging because he [Walker] didn't want to raise taxes because he was going to run for president. So instead of raising taxes he cut back on schools, he cut back on highways, cut back on a lot of things. And that's why...Wisconsin has a problem.

The host of the show, Charlie Sykes, is probably one of the most influential voices in Wisconsin's talk radio arena. Sykes is also so strongly opposed to Trump that he's vowed never to support him in any election. This is clearly something Trump had to have known going into the interview. It's hard to believe he didn't.
The cherry on the aforementioned sundae? Wisconsin is home of 42 delegates. All of which are up for grabs and could potentially put Trump closer to the nomination. Rather than appear himself, he sent Sarah Palin. One more time: He sent Sarah Palin. The Huffington Post reported:
Palin's speech at a Republican gathering in Milwaukee  fell flat and earned little applause from about 750 attendees, according to the Journal Times. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reported that Palin got some laughs when she said, "Trump talks rationally."

And in that same speech--the one in which she claims that Trump talks rationally--she said this about Trump's opponents:
What the heck are you thinking, candidates? What the heck are you thinking when you're actually asking for more immigrants -- even illegal immigrants, welcoming them in.  Even inducing and seducing them with gift baskets: "Come on over the border and here's a gift basket of teddy bears and soccer balls."

Trump is no dummy and is not known for making stupid mistakes. Yes, he's brash, uncouth, and maybe even ignorant on many issues, but he is not stupid.
Trump started the layout's role of victim on Fox News last week. On Friday during a phone interview, Donald Trump, when asked about his comments on MSNBC, said, "You really ought to hear the whole thing. I mean, this is a long convoluted question. This was a long discussion, and they just cut it out. And, frankly, it was extremely -- it was really convoluted."
MSNBC quickly responded with a statement, saying, "The town hall interview with Donald Trump was taped in advance and then aired in its entirety. Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out."
Even Chris Wallace, during a "Fox News Sunday" interview, asked Trump, "Are you in the process of blowing your campaign for president?"
Trump is completely unqualified for the job of president. His disapproval ratings are above 60 percent in national polling, and three-quarters of women in the country can't stand him. As for his foreign and domestic policy, the Economist's Intelligence Unit puts Trump in the top ten list of global risks. He's right up there with "The rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilizes the global economy"
Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, who had met with Trump about becoming their communications director, confirms most of this, telling the National Review:
I believe Trump senses he is in over his head and doesn't really want the nomination. He wanted to help his brand and have fun, but not to be savaged by the Clintons if he's the candidate. He wouldn't mind falling short of a delegate majority, losing the nomination, and then playing angry celebrity victim in the coming years.

What began as a con will end as a con. Trump will continue to make bombastic, ludicrous and inane comments, proving to the media--who are all too eager to give him all the attention he wants--that he is wholly unqualified for the job. Other republicans will chastise him for the things that he says, proving to his followers that he is being targeted by an establishment that is afraid of him. Trump will walk away unscathed, his brand strengthened and his dignity intact. He will be the guy who nearly became president, but was too much for people to take. In many ways and on many levels nothing could be more accurate.

Listen to the T&Z Talk Podcast w/ Richard Zombeck & Tony Trupiano


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