Donald Trump is not Mitt Romney, and he's not going to take attacks from the despicable Democrats lying down. And as we've seen since Trump entered the race, the more vicious the attacks on him, the more rabid his supporters become. I don't expect that to change once the attacks start coming from Priorities USA Action, or the DNC for that matter. Will Trump be able to respond in kind before receiving public funding for the general election (assuming he's not "self-funded" after all)? Who knows? Moe Lane seems to expect Trump to get blown out of the water, but he's blogging at Red State, hardly your neutral source for analysis on such issues.
In any case, at National Journal (via Memeorandum):
Super PAC will air $20 million in negative ads before Donald Trump can counter with general-election money, a strategy that defined Mitt Romney in 2012.
Democrats plan to pound Donald Trump before he’s nominated: https://t.co/4Pls1Dzh2D pic.twitter.com/SeCYtrhmGy— National Journal (@nationaljournal) May 2, 2016
Donald Trump loves to brag about how he always counterpunches when attacked, but he could soon be taking an unanswered, $20 million pummeling in those few states that will decide the November election.Well, that doesn't sound particularly auspicious for the Manhattan mogul, but then, it's been a completely unpredictably election season thus far.
A series of ads painting him as an unserious, unready, and unscrupulous businessman who also happens to disparage women and minorities is to start airing June 8, the day after the final primaries in which Trump is likely to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
“That’s a good day to start,” said Justin Barasky with Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Democrat Hillary Clinton. “We’re not going to the make the same mistake Republicans did in waiting too long [to go on the offensive].”
For five full weeks, in a lull between the primary season and the GOP convention, these messages may have the airwaves to themselves in seven swing states, with the notoriously tight-fisted Trump loath to spend tens of millions of his own money to counter the attack and the Republican Party unable to defend him until he officially becomes the nominee.
If Republicans find this strategy familiar, they should. It’s exactly what Priorities did to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney in those months after he had secured the nomination, following a long and expensive primary battle—but before he was officially nominated and allowed to use millions in general-election money he had already collected.
“Mitt Romney was a fundamentally likable guy. Look what they did to Mitt Romney. They turned him into history’s greatest monster,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and leading “Never Trump” voice who has been warning for months that Democrats would start blistering Trump the moment he secured the nomination.
In 2012, Priorities spent $21.5 million attacking Romney between May and the end of August, when the former Massachusetts governor formally accepted the nomination at the GOP convention in Tampa. The ads focused on five swing states, most notably Rust Belt Ohio, and portrayed Romney as a heartless plutocrat who enriched himself by shutting down factories and shipping jobs overseas. The ads were credited with turning Romney’s business experience from an asset into a liability among many general-election voters. In Ohio, President Obama received 2 percent more support from white voters and non-college graduates than he did nationally—a big factor in his 3-point victory there that November that sealed his reelection.
Wilson predicted that Priorities would have a much easier challenge with Trump than it did with Romney, given Trump’s already high disapproval ratings and the host of controversies in his past, from the defunct Trump University to his multiple bankruptcies in Atlantic City.
Priorities will also find its Republican opposition in a far more precarious financial condition. While both Romney’s campaign and his super PAC were depleted by the drawn-out primary, he was nonetheless a prodigious fundraiser, ultimately collecting $820 million for himself and the Republican Party and another $153 million for his technically independent super PAC.
Trump has no fundraising operation, has insulted the traditional GOP donor community, and as of yet has not begun raising money for the party. At a recent meeting, Republican National Committee members publicly expressed confidence they could raise all the money needed. But privately, some members worried that Trump as nominee won’t be able to raise a fraction of the $1 billion that Clinton and Democrats are likely to spend.
Trump has avoided spending money on his campaign whenever possible, largely relying on free cable TV coverage to spread his message. And it’s unclear how easily he can write himself eight-figure checks, even if he wanted to...
My bet is that Trump will continue to assume the mantle of respectability, and he'll ingratiate himself with the GOP establishment while turning increasingly to a by-the-book mainstream presidential campaign. He's going to have to fork over some of own cash if he's serious about rebutting the left's smears before Cleveland, but we'll see. We're already seeing the Republican establishment warming to a Trump candidacy, and my main hypothesis throughout is the both Republicans and conservatives hate Hillary more than they hate The Donald, so by the time of the general election we should be seeing a full-on battle among the historical constituencies of the two parties.
We're in uncharted territory here, but I'm loving it.
Still more at the link.