Have the Republican and Democratic parties’ front-runners for the 2016 presidential nomination already launched their general campaign themes against each other?
It sure sounded that way this past Saturday.
First, at Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, with thousands of cheering supporters on hand, he unleashed his brash, anti-Hillary message:
“You want to have a mess of a country, you want to have nothing but problems. You want to have a country that goes to hell? You elect Hillary president, you have a country that goes to hell.”
Then, later that evening, while speaking at a Des Moines, Iowa, fundraising dinner, Hillary Clinton demeaned Donald Trump’s campaign slogan when she said:
“I hear Donald Trump when he says we have to make America great again. America is great – we just have to make it fair and just.”
Could these Clinton and Trump snippets be a test launch of their national campaign’s conventional weapons in preparation for a nuclear detonation scheduled for the summer and fall of 2016?
The answer is “yes.” Because now it is possible, even probable that two of the biggest celebrities in the world could face-off in what would undoubtedly be the nastiest, dirtiest, loudest, most bombastic, expensive and atom-splitting presidential election campaign in American history. (Perhaps in all recorded history?)
Although Clinton’s expected coronation has finally materialized (better late than never from a DNC perspective), Trump’s nomination is still a work in progress. He leads the GOP field overall but has slipped in the latest poll against Ben Carson.
However, an Oct. 23 Rasmussen poll found that 74 percent of likely Republican voters now believe that Trump will be their party’s nominee – a percentage that is further validated by an Oct. 25 Associated Press-GfK poll that found seven out of 10 Republicans think Trump is the strongest and most electable general election candidate.
With those polls in mind, combined with Trump’s net positive performance at the CNBC debate, let’s imagine and assume for a moment (an assumption that only a few months ago was considered inane) that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will oppose each other in the 2016 general election.
First, take a deep breath. (Actually take several because you will need it.) We will all need it.
Then ask yourself this question: “In our celebrity obsessed culture, what could be more perfect than two A-listers battling it out on the airwaves, in cyberspace, on the campaign trail and in our living rooms throughout the coming year?” (So enthralling is this prolonged celebrity battle that “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett probably dreams about the official campaign being canceled and substituting a reality TV series where viewers would select the next president.)
Realistically, a Clinton vs.Trump campaign would offer the American people exactly what they want, crave and love to watch – non-stop entertainment provoked by a fierce rivalry. Even for voters who have no interest in politics, all the bashing would be like watching the Super Bowl every day.
And mirroring the climatic final episodes of one of Burnett’s reality shows, in the fall of 2016, Clinton and Trump will face-off at least twice on the debate stage, in what Burnett would promote as “mouth to mouth combat.”
Now comes the unexpected plot twist – election night could be emotionally draining because if Trump were to lose, he would not accept defeat under any circumstances.
Naturally, he would do what he always does best – sue – probably for voter fraud or media bias, which would trigger a huge national mess.
Hillary, on the other hand, is equally determined to win but slightly more subtle. After losing her shot at the presidency in 2008, Mrs. Clinton is not about to lose it again. In her mind, she must be elected the nation’s first female president (for the good of the country, of course.)
Here is what would make a Clinton vs.Trump race even more titillating. Trump being Trump, will not allow Hillary’s gender to interfere with him treating her like he would any adversary who stands in the way of him winning what he wants or thinks he deserves.
In Trump’s mind, Hillary must be obliterated. In order for him to do that she must be demeaned, cut down to size, bullied and revealed for who she is … a congenital liar.
Trump already knows that Hillary’s greatest weakness is that voters do not trust her. Perhaps Trump will even incorporate that lack of trust into his now-famous campaign slogan emblazoned on the front of his red trucker’s hat with: You can’t trust Hillary to make America great again.
Surely that message would resonate with Trump’s supporters who have lost all trust in “stupid” political leaders. They believe in Trump because they are angry, fed-up with government in general and fear for the future of their once-great nation.
On the other hand, Hillary represents Democratic Party business as usual – more government, more spending, more wealth redistribution, more porous borders and more of the same old, same old with the same old result.
But the best aspect of a Clinton vs. Trump campaign will be all the histrionics that will look and sound something like this (but probably worse):
Trump, a branding expert, officially trademarks Hillary = Liar, and it becomes Trump’s new slogan and logo.
Hillary repeatedly questions Trump’s mental stability and says that he is “unfit to be president.” This message becomes her alternative slogan and logo.
Trump casually drops into media interviews that “sources” tell him that if elected, Hillary will be blackmailed by Russian, Chinese or Iranian leaders because they have read all of her emails.
Hillary warns undocumented Hispanics that Trump’s storm troopers will bang down their doors in the middle of the night and deport them before breakfast.
Trump says he has “proof” that if Hillary is elected president, she will issue an executive order banning the manufacture and sale of all ammunition for private use.
Trump contracts with Monica Lewinsky and all of Bill Clinton’s “victims” to campaign with him.
Hillary campaigns with Trump’s disgruntled business partners.
Like I said, it will probably be even worse.
Who will ultimately prevail in a Clinton vs. Trump celebrity super battle? At this moment Clinton bests Trump in the all-important campaign metric: rock star endorsements.
At last Saturday’s rally in Des Moines, aging “rock star” Bill Clinton introduced current rock star Katy Perry, whose mega-hit “Roar” has been adopted as Hillary’s campaign anthem. Perry even wore a dress adorned with Hillary’s “H” logo.
Therefore, to remain competitive, I recommend that Trump draft Taylor Swift to be a member of his campaign team.
Given that Swift’s hit song “Bad Blood” is based on her public feud with Katy Perry, Trump should immediately pay Swift whatever she requires so it can be his anti-Hillary campaign song.
Not only would the use of “Bad Blood” add another layer of superstar rivalry to Trump and Clinton’s celebrity vs. celebrity smack-down, but it accurately predicts their potential battle for the White House – there will be blood and it will be bad.