I’m coming to grips with Trump’s strategy in this campaign season. And although I don’t like it, I have to confess that so far it is working way better than a conventional one would for a candidate like Trump.
Trump’s goal, if you look at what he has done, is to constantly be in the center of a media storm of his own making. He cannot allow the media to fixate on anything other than him, even for a couple of days – even if they are attacking his (alleged) opponent Hillary Clinton. His campaign is like a shark except instead of needing to constantly swim to stay alive, they need to constantly be the center of controversy and attention to stay alive.
When people stop having their mouth agape in wonder at the latest stupid thing Trump has done, it starts to settle in a little more that they really don’t care for Trump all that much. So his goal is basically to always be the subject of heated, passionate debate and never to be the subject of quiet reflection.
That’s of course why he allowed the Cruz speech to go forward last night and made the whole debacle worse by telling his supporters to boo, even though the net effect was to summarily bigfoot his own VP nominee’s acceptance speech. See, Pence giving a speech, even an important one, is kind of boring to the average person. Sure, it might have been a big deal to a regular campaign, but Trump is not running a real campaign, he is running a nationwide reality show. And what the nationwide reality show wants is neverending drama.
So Trump gives it to them. Hillary is floundering and the media is paying attention to her? Make a racist remark about Hispanics. The news is focused on a terrible event in Orlando? Make it about yourself and cause everyone to go overboard against you. Always be the center of attention. Always have people arguing passionately about you. Count on the fact that the average American doesn’t respond to facts or details, only emotional impressions.
People are saying that your convention has been boring and that your VP pick is boring? Cause a humongous controversy to erupt right before it happens. Get everyone yelling back and forth about the impropriety of Cruz’s speech and know that they will obligingly forget all the disgusting things you have done and said for the last year.
Most campaigns have a crisis response team. Not Trump. Trump has a crisis creation team. His goal is to constantly keep himself in the middle of a crapstorm and so far he’s been tremendously successful at it.