How would Donald behave if he decides he can’t win and won’t throw good money after bad?
Before they gather in Cleveland for their convention, it’s not too soon for Republicans to begin thinking about what exactly a Donald Trump defeat might be like.
As with his now-documented habit of charitable promises that seldom materialize, Mr. Trump never intended to endanger a sizable part of his personal wealth to fund a presidential campaign. That means he’ll continue to campaign on the cheap, by saying incendiary things and having them transmitted by the free media. Expect more speeches like the protectionist-cum-conspiracy theory speeches in suburban Pittsburgh on Tuesday and New Hampshire on Thursday, even if such diatribes frighten major donors and mainstream Republicans and make life harder for down-ticket Republican candidates in the fall.
In his mind, Mr. Trump may still envision a populist prairie fire carrying him to the White House. This is not his best plan to win, he may also admit to himself, but the one he’s willing to pay for.
Here resides the problem all along for those hoping for a Trump-to-the-middle move. Such moves are expensive. Base-broadening campaigns require lots of paid TV to reach non-engaged voters and Trump skeptics, pummeling them with reassuring images suggesting that a Trump presidency would be OK.
Mr. Trump not only is unwilling or unable to finance such a campaign. He evidently is unwilling to do what’s necessary to entice GOP donors to finance it on his behalf. This means GOP officeholders seeking re-election can expect a constant headwind of inflammatory Trump statements designed to stimulate the free media coverage that his asset-lite campaign requires. Republican candidates up and down the ballot therefore become unwilling sharers of a high-risk Trump electoral wager, a gamble more likely to end in a Hillary landslide than a Trump White House.Read the rest of this WSJ op-ed HERE and view a related video below:
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